Keeping ourselves fit is important to make sure our lives are well balanced. In Penang, hiking is one of the most popular fitness activity. It is also one activity where we can get close to the nature. Here, we curated several popular spots for hiking.
Penang National Park
Penang National Park (Taman Negara) spans 1,200ha and is a habitat to over 400 flora and 140 fauna species. Natural attractions include the forests, mangrove areas, sandy beach habitats, a seasonal meromictic lake and the open coastal seas. Because of its remote location, the park’s beaches are considered among the best in Penang and include Teluk Bahang, Monkey Beach, Pantai Kerachut, Teluk Kampi and Pantai Mas. Teluk Bahang beach is the easiest to reach by a flat paved path but the others require hiking along the shore line first ascending local hills then descending to beach coves along the coast. Jungle trails lead to Pantai Kerachut, one of the most frequented beaches with a suspension bridge connecting the trail to the beach. There are two major trails in the National Park, leading to the Muka Head lighthouse and Pantai Kerachut respectively.
Botanical Gardens provides for access to a number of trails. The ‘1500 Steps’ is the most common route taken for those going up to the Rest Station 46 or on towards Penang Hill to the south or Penang Hill via the Crag Hotel Trail via Teik Junction: a back door route to Penang Hill and Western Hill or Tanjung Bungah via Teik Trail – all in different areas. There is also a connecting route to the Mountain Bike Trail (MBT) to Fettes Park and the various Bukit Olivia trails emerging at Jalan Kebun Bunga across from Moon Gate.
Air Itam Dam
Air Itam Dam is located uphill and to the south of the Kek Lok Si Temple and provides the main access to surrounding paths and trails. It is a great start point for accessing jungle trails and motorcycle paths to gain access to other highland locations. Weekends are considered busy periods so parking can be a challenge. There is a pedestrian pathway around the dam reservoir with access to a number of jungle trails or motorcycle paths that eventually lead to Balik Pulau on the western side of Penang Island or alternatively Tiger Hill with trail connections to Penang Hill where other trail options to be found.
Penang Hill is the top station of the Funicular Train and a significant tourist destination. The train can be boarded at Bottom Station where taxis and city buses are available. Penang Hill is the start point for a number of challenging jungle hikes including Crag Hotel to Botanical Gardens, Tiger Hill to Air Itam via Summit Road and Western Hill Road, Taman Rimba via Bukit Laksamana, Batu Feringghi via the Crag Hotel Trail and southwest to Balik Pulau. Hikers can ascend to Penang Hill via various trails which dissect the east facing slope along concrete motorcycle paths used by local farmers. City views dominate the eastern horizon with the hill side dotted with farmers growing fruit and vegetables for local consumption and numerous Buddhist shrines including the Stupas.
Carla’s Peak trail begins at the corner of Jalan Lembah Permai, Tanjung Bungah. A Hindu temple dominates the street corner. The entrance serves as access to a PBA water facility and further along, a water bottling plant. Follow the access path on the right which leads to the trail entrance gate. The gate was not locked at the time but is held closed by a piece of wire so those passing through should ensure the gate is closed behind the last person through. Follow along the overgrown roadway which must be traversed in a couple of sections due to fallen trees. Once reaching an open field of grass, on the left is a gated barrier to PBA water facilities and on the right is an access to Carla’s Peak to the left of a stack of large diameter pipe from previous construction.
Bukit Olivia Trails
Bukit Olivia Trails are accessible from the north side of Jalan Kebun Bunga directly across from the Moon Gate Entrance although can also be accessed from Botanical Gardens as well. There are two access routes to the main trail leading up to the peak. From the top you can either proceed northeast towards Fettes Park near Jalan Erskine or west towards the Mountain Bike Trail and then down either to the Lily Pond or 1500 Steps to descend to the Botanical Gardens. Either way it is a great hike, easily accessible, and you’re not likely to run into anyone except for the local wildlife including wild boar.
Moon Gate Entrance is a round shaped opening resembling a full moon, and thus referred to as a moon gate in Chinese architecture. Moon Gate entrance is located along Jalan Kebun Bunga, just before Botanical Gardens. There is off and on-street parking and city buses service this route on a scheduled buses. The trail entrance is known historically as the heritage gateway to a 19th century mansion, now lying in ruins situated some 15 minutes walk up the trail. Moon Gate entrance provides access to hikers for many of the trails which circle and ascend Bukit Cendana including Wildboar trail, Cendana trail, Peace trail with side access to Trails 3, 6, 7, 39 – and Waterfall and Rifle Range Trail on the western side of a valley.
Batu Feringghi is situated in the northern coastal area of Penang Island and is the start point for a number of great hikes. Batu Feringghi is considered a tourist location given the proximity to local beaches. There are two access routes local trials the first being from the Chin Farm location across from the Bayview Beach Resort and the second is off Jalan Sungai 1.
Taman Rimba is located across the Teluk Bahang Dam. There are numerous jungle trails which either circle the boundary of the park, pass through or link up with Batu Feringghi and the PBA Aqueduct System, Bukit Laksamana and eventually to Western Hill Road with eventual access to Penang Hill.
Penang Municipal Park
Penang Municipal Park, used to be known as Youth Park is located off Jalan Kebun Bunga, just prior to the entrances to Moon Gate and Botanical Gardens, provides access to Trails 3, 4, 6, 7, 39 and 45 with connections to Rest Station 3, Station 5, Station 39 and access via the Moon Gate Trail to Station 84 and on to Penang Hill via the Moniot Road Trail.
If you need more information including the height and distance of the climb, check it out at http://penanghikes.com/