Updated: Jun 17
Bukit Sungai Puteh Forest Reserve stretches from Hulu Langat to Ampang on to Cheras, and it continues all the way to Pahang. The forest also boasts a couple of hills, namely Bukit Saga and Bukit Apek, Bukit Ketumbar, that serves as a green lung to the communities in Cheras and Saga area.
Recently the Apek hills have been in the headlines for malaria outbreak, a dead hiker, encroachment of forest reserve for highway developments, and a gathering that flouted Covid-19 rules! It was close for the most part of 2020 and recently reopened only to hikers with permits from the Selangor forestry, with a daily quota. (please call the department before planning your next hike there, only RM5 per entry)
A getaway from the city's grind it's just at your doorstep. Chasing Apek falls is rewarding, with crystal clear waters , lush greenary and the constant call of nature right at the backyard of Saga Residental Park.
Hike Duration: Depending on which trail you take and for how long you chillax by the waterfalls, allocate about 4 hours!
Trail A is a short but more steep route to the summit. A resting point marks approximately the halfway point of route A. The trail is well marked with additional ropes at steeper sections.
Trail B closed due to the construction of the Sungai Besi-Uluklang Expressway,
Trail C a slightly longer route. You will pass by a resting hut (checkpoint 2) and Beirut tower before coming to a split junction. The left trail will bring you towards Bukit Saga waterfall and the straight trail will lead you to the summit.
We headed to the summit and towards a treehouse, before heading to the waterfall.
End Hike: It is the legendary SAGA loop
Hike Difficulty: 3/5
Scenery Rewards: 2/5 no lookout point for this hike but you'll get one of the Kuala Lumpur at the car park area in Taman Saga or at the start of the hike!
What to bring
1. Optional walking stick
2. At least 1l of water (there are station stops with clean water supply) pack lunch if you intend to have a picnic
3. Change of clothes
4. Good pair of hiking shoes is absolutely necessary
5. Optional gloves
6. Check the weather forecast
7. Normally no leeches here, but we did find 2! So, do spray your shoes with some Listerine or repellant.
8. Mosquito Repellant (since there was a malaria outbreak here not long ago, believed to be contributed by the construction site of SUKE highway)
Park around the commercial shop lot area in Taman Saga. Walk to the trailhead. This way, we do not congest the residential streets. It is less than a 5-minute walk up to the trailhead.
sweeping views of KL at the start of the trailhead.
Part 1 - Seputeh Beirut Station
From the trailhead, it is a 45-degree ascent all the way up to the abandoned Beirut. (some explanation on a Trig station aka Beirut tower)
A few flights up from the trailhead, you will reach checkpoint 2. Serves more as a rain shelter and resting point for tired hikers.
It takes about 20-30 minutes to reach the Beirut tower.
Note: Fast forward 2023, the trees and vegetation and this Trig-tower has been demolished and bulldozed to make-way for an new electric grid of pylons. At the moment, this upper ridges of Ah-Pek and Saga hill is unaccessible. In fact it is dangerous to be there as the contractors are bulldozing trees, and they might fall on you!
Part 2 SAGA SUMMIT
It is a short 300-400m walk on the ridge to the Saga summit. You won't get much of a view here but an open-air gym.
If you head straight on, you will come to the Hill Station 6
Hill Station 6 (Tea Station)
Tree House (Hill Station 5)
Part 3 WATERFALLS
If you come from Saga entrance and veer left at the junction after the Beirut tower, that would be the shortcut to the falls. But should you choose a tougher workout, from the treehouse, it would involve a descent to the gully of the hill and back up again before taking a sharp descent to the falls.
If you continue to follow the river downhill, Ah Pek waterfall is about 20m away. You'll be chasing 2 waterfalls!
RETURN TO BUKIT SAGA
Backtrack your way to Saga falls, and instead of going up from where you came from, take the unassuming right path with the huge rock. The trail hugs along the stream in the beginning. Some parts, on rocks and some, over the stream, and the most exciting part, a 35-degree angle ascend on a rock phase, thankfully with the help of an installed rope to aid you over the slippery, at times wet cold mega boulder!
After this rocky section, there a 40 degree ascend of about 30m upward terrain to tackle.
Be ready for it, as it involves some scrambling, root pulling, and hoisting oneself up this path. There are a series of shorter steep inclines after the main climb! It is a great workout and you will feel accomplished when you reach the junction at the top.
Back at the Beirut tower, it is a backtrack down from where we entered.
Flora and Fauna
It is remarkable how the waters of Bukit Saga remain so clear despite a mega-highway project at the Saga, Cheras side, and more housing projects on the Cheras and Ampang side! This hill is flanked by development, it is a matter of time it will be flattened!
On this hike, Wills from Peaks Outdoor Malaysia arranged the permits and guided us through the highs and the lows of the forest. A charismatic and also a bare-footed guide who never runs out of topics when you are trying to catch your breath!
It is always a pleasure to hike with the beautiful hikers from Nature Hunters, who are forever in a quest to hunt for rare gems in the jungle!
Fast forward 2023, the upper trail of parts of Saga Hill has been clear to accommodate a second electric pylon grid. It is most disturbing to trek through the bulldozed trees on the ridge. Such exposed ground will affect the quality of water at the waterfalls in the long run. I truly hope that the clearing has stopped at where it is! Anymore devastation will affect the ecosystem of the forest reserve.