It is one thing to experience the snow-capped mountains in the Himalayas, and come back to Kuala Lumpur to appreciate the technical and tropical trails that are available in bountiful supply. I never quite appreciated it until I drew comparisons and spent weekends chasing steeper trails in Kuala Lumpur to enjoy the outdoors and sometimes to train for a mega hiking adventure!
The hiking trail in and near Kuala Lumpur are steep, muddy, technical and sometimes not much of a trail compared to our Southeast Asian neighbours but that’s what makes it particularly enthralling. One minute you’re gazing at the birds, the next is a pitcher plant and few minutes later you’re knee-deep in waddling through streams to get across the other side of this trek all in the name of adventure.
I started with Meet Up KL Hiking and made friends and lifelong buddies, and slowly discovered new Facebook groups in KL that offer weekend hiking trips such as Trailblazers, MY Back To Nature and Peaks Outdoor Malaysia. For trail details and technicalities, sites such as HikersForLife.com are pretty useful if you’d like to know more about route details.
Here are some of the best hiking trails and spots in and near Kuala Lumpur to start with:
1. Bukit Saga
This was one of the first hikes that I ever did couple of years ago before training for Mount Kinabalu. It was my first hike with fallen roots and tapestries of branches giving you quite the workout needed to climb bigger summits in Malaysia. Saga Hill is also known as AhPek Hill and reaches a summit of 430metres.
The challenge lies in selecting which entrance you’d like to begin your hike from. You could select your entry point at Cheras Awana, Cheras Hartamas or in Ampang (Taman Saga). Between Saga’s hilltop and Route C lies the highest point of Saga Hill.
I chose Route C when hiking up to Bukit Saga which is longer than route A but less steep. You will pass through scraggy paths with branched out roots firmly rooted to the ground making it a really nice hike to start with!
2. Bukit Gasing
It’s the most popular neighbourhood-friendly trail that’s 15 minutes from KL. Surprisingly, Bukit Gasing was once a rubber estate and it turned itself into a lush secondary forest. There are two entrances to access Bukit Gasing with the main entrance being in PJ and the back entrance in KL.
What’s interesting is that there’s a watch tower at the top overlooking a temple and the Telekom tower. The highest point of Bukit Gasing stands at 160metres making it a tiny hill that’s well worth the effort for a quick workout in the middle of the city.
3. Bukit Tabur
It’s the quartz ridge and dragonback trails following Bukit Tabur’s east entrance that make it interesting and an unusual terrain for hikers in Malaysia. Bukit Tabur is a ridge located in Hulu Gombak Forest Reserve, Selangor, Malaysia.
It is also known locally as Crystal Hill. The quartz ridge is very prominent as it is part of Klang Gates Quartz Ridge and can be seen from the Kuala Lumpur Middle Ring Road 2. The entire ridge is 14 km long but the trail only covers a short portion.
There are a lot of conflicting comments about people stating that Bukit Tabur West is less steeper than the East. From what’s known, Bukit Tabur is longer but the West side is slightly more dangerous. Regardless, you’d need to be absolutely surefooted when climbing up these sharp craggy edges. In recent months, the place was closed due to a tourist fall and death while hiking Bukit Tabur.
4. Bukit Broga
Sunrises, picturesque views atop a 400m hill, what’s not to love. Bukit Broga is a well-known hiking spot for weekend intrepid hikers. As you ascend further, you’ll notice lalang grass instead of trees making it one of the popular reasons why people get an unobstructed view of the city.
The first part of the hill has enough forest cover and the last ascend is slightly steep but doable once you reach the top. It gets incredibly hot as there is no shade so it’s not a hike you’d want to linger on, and probably the best way is to start hiking as early as 5am as it’ll take you approximately 1 hour to reach up and 40 minutes to reach down.
5. Taman Tugu Trails
If there’s one thing you can do more now — it is hiking with your families and even toddlers or kids. Taman Tugu trails offer family-friendly trails that are educational and a welcome addition to KL’s concrete jungle.
The site offers forest trails with over 5,000 trees here that average between eight and 10 years old. There’s currently a 2km trail which will be expanded soon but there are a maze-like trails that are well-marked and sign-posted with gazebos and swings for children.
It also has some history to it. For starters, it is known that the palm oil seeds were brought by the British from West Africa, and it was initially planted here for ornamental purposes. Previously the site used to be a residential area for a number of government officials but they became abandoned and it turned into an illegal dumping site which was thankfully cleared to give way for the park to be opened.
6. Kota Damansara Community Forest
Kota Damansara Community Forest is popularly known as Denai Tiga Puteri Trek (The trail of 3 princesses) and it has been carefully designed and painstakingly constructed over many years by volunteers and Temuan Orang Asli in close consultation with the Selangor Forestry Department.
There are a variety of trails for different levels. The good beginner level trails are the Salleh, Scouts and Temuan Trails. Intermediate level trails would include Harmoni Trail, Sahabat and Serenity Trails. Advanced level trails would be the peak trails including Unity and Unity Peak and Denai Tiga Puteri.
7. Bukit Kutu, Kuala Khubu Baru
With beautiful views of the Titiwangsa mountain range and Kuala Kubu Bharu dam at the summit, Bukit Kutu is a popular climbing spot over the weekends. At 1,050m high, it was once a colonial hill station called ‘Treacher’s Hill’ until taken over by neighboring Fraser’s Hill.
The history behind Bukit Kutu makes it an interesting one. It was bombed by the Japanese during the war, and abandoned to the wild, including the access road which was lost in thick vegetation. You can only see remains of the bungalow on the fringes such as a chimney, fireplace and a well.
The climb up Gunung Kutu takes around 2-4 hours depending on speed and begins from an Orang Asli village at the foothill.
8. Bukit Chenuang
Bukit Chenuang is located at Sungai Congkak, Hulu Langat, Selangor, Penisular Malaysia. It is a less popular mountains than it’s neighbouring one, Gunung Nuang. I did a trans hike covering Bukit Chenuang and descended towards Batu Kambang and found the trail to be rugged and unchartered.
It is known to start off as an easy walk through the Congkak Recreational Park, followed by a jungle trek that increases in difficulty level the higher we proceed. On the way to Bukit Chenuang (850m asl) the trail becomes more difficult, especially because of the presence of rattan and fallen bamboos.
It does have stunning views and the thrill of trudging along and using your hands to fight off branches and springy trees can be quite an adventure.
9. Gunung Nuang
Claimed as one of the hardest mountain to tackle especially if you approach it via the Pangsoon route, but doing the Janda Baik route is a formidable challenge but a more doable stretch if you’re short on time and do not want to sweat blood and tears.
At a height of 1,493 metres, Gunung Nuang peak borders Pahang and Selangor state and is close to the Pahang-Selangor-Negeri Sembilan border tripoint. The mountain itself is the highest point in Selangor and part of the Titiwangsa Mountains.
Before climbing the mountains in Nepal and India, Gunung Nuang was my training ground and it took me about 7 to 8 hours in total making it quite the challenge. This hike can get very messy and dirty, and satisfyingly gruelling once you reach the top, as with all rainforest treks in Malaysia!
10. Gunung Angsi
Windy routes, cascading trees overlooking the Negeri Sembilan state, Gunung Ansi is probably one of the best hiking spots in Malaysia due to its close proximity to the city centre. A sunrise hike covered in a blanket of stars and windy terrain makes Gunung Angsi the perfect breezy hike that’s not too far away from the city centre.
We could barely see the trees and our walk was often fixated on relishing on the gusts of wind that seemed impossible to tame the further we ascended up the mountain. Though a minor mountain in terms of hiking profile, the walk in the park and undulating path makes Gunung Angsi a relatively easy-moderate hike.
11. Lata Medang
Tiered waterfalls nearby Orang Asli villages with local fruits such as mangosteen, langsat and tampoi, Lata Medang falls as a heavenly delight for trekkers who miss the cold rush and reward of a waterfall sighting.
The trek may not be hard but it is possible to get lost if you accidentally turn right like what I did. After crossing the two iron bridges, stick to the left and follow the route. I got lost the last time I went there and still managed to be delighted by the small pebbled pools — the water was crystal clear and with the sun rays shining through, it was easy to see why hiking here does not necessarily mean conquering mountains, rather enjoying the journey and going with the flow.
12. Chilling Waterfalls
Perhaps, the most popular day hike from the city centre. Chiling Waterfalls requires crossing 7 streams and rivers, passing exotic plants like wild orchids and bamboo, before reaching an 80-metre waterfall overlooking a calm and “chilling” lagoon.
The area is often crowded with daytrippers and campers — there are plenty of boulders, shallow pools, and gushing waterfalls. The waterfalls and river are also the site of the Mahseer Fish Sanctuary managed by the Selangor Fisheries Department.
13. Pine Tree Hill, Fraser Hill
At 1505 Metres, Pine Tree Hill is claimed to be one of the longest and challenging trails in Malaysia. Having done Gunung Nuang and the Mossy Forest in Cameron Highlands, this trail is not as steep compared to the other difficult trails. The trail is about 5.5 km long and borders along Selangor and Pahang.
It was a long and difficult 9 hour hike covering two trails. This hike is not to be underestimated due to multiple ascents and descents.
You’ll see a wide variety of birds and wild ginger flowers. Once you reach the peak, you can also opt to climb the second peak, Twin Peak which is about 45 minutes away, boasting stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. Pine Hill is inspired by the coniferous plants that used to dot the peak. Of special note were five endemic conifer species of dacrydiums, which have all but disappeared from the peak today. You will need to apply for the permit from Raub Forestry and a guide is mandatory for a hike in the forest. It is also of notable concern what’s happening in the surrounding area where a 15-storey resort and spa will be built giving way to loose soil, fallen trees and disturbance to migratory birds and animals. If you do decide to trek the Pine Tree Trail, don’t forget to share your stories using the hashtag #SaveFraserHill and tag @pawbf.
14. Lata Kedongdong Hike
Just between Batang Kali and Goh Tong Jaya, and not too far from Genting Highlands lies a relatively short hike featuring two secluded tiered waterfall with big pools to swim. The main fall is a 30-45 minute hike from the upper end of the car park and a second tiered waterfall which is worth the effort just above the main falls.
The place offers a river bed with huge boulders providing you the perfect place to relax in between swims.
15. Tanjung Tuan
A coastal-forest hike in the gazetted Tanjung Tuan Recreational Park forest reserve is popular amongst birdwatchers and hikers. Gazetted as a permanent reserve forest by the Forest Department of Melaka in 1921 (under the title of Cape Rachado Permanent Reserved Forest), Tanjung Tuan is managed by Kumpulan Melaka Bhd., and is situated approximately 20km from Port Dickson. This is almost a well-kept secret in KL and the drive takes approximately 1 hour 20 minute making it the perfect combination of hiking with a coastal view.
What makes it great is that every year, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) organises the Raptor Watch to coincide with the raptors’ journey back to the northern hemisphere via Tanjung Tuan, with the aim of spreading awareness on the conservation of raptors and their habitats.
There are a multitude of trails heading up to Tanjung Tuan and they are mostly easy, and nothing too ambitious or technical. There’s the scenic Monkey Bay trail leading to the beach. The other forest path is located before the lighthouse’s staircase and goes to Bukit Batu Putih; climbing the limestone rocks offers a different view of the ocean.
Are there any other hiking trails that I have missed out? Share with me in the comments below.
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