Updated: Dec 21, 2020
The everyday life in Klang Valley can be rather taxing. And in these trying times, we are constantly reminded of the 'pandemic' even when out hiking in the hills! But life must go on....... living in the Klang Valley, we are never too far from greenery. These are my 7 favourite forest reserve easily reached from city wherever you live that may offer you a peaceful respite from the bustle of the city.
1. Bukit Kiara at Taman Tun Dr. Ismail/Mt Kiara
This park has to be everyone's darling. In the middle of the city, easily accessible, a good mix of easy to moderate trails, with a picturesque view of Kuala Lumpur, and colonies of primates.
Lembah Kiara is connected to Bukit Kiara through a plethora of jungle trail for every level of tracker or mountain biker!
Lembah Kiara is a community park accessible from the Jalan Abang Haji Openg side, main entrance (link to google map). There are 2 jogging tracks there, a paved loop around the lake 1km and another outer loop, with a suspension bridge 1.8km long. There is a little stream feeding the lake and it is a perfect place to bring and introduce little toddlers to nature!
If you access through Changkat Abang Haji Openg, you could do the more challenging walk up the Kiara Hill.
Kiara Hill Walk. A 5km hill loop. Mostly paved pedestrian road, elevation gain 480 feet. I find this gradient absolutely good for burning the quads! Any guilt after a heavy meal, is washed away after a walk up here!
Bukit Kiara Trail. This trail starts at the indoor arena or the equestrian center (link to google map).
The labelled trail is nearly 2 km each way. The first 0.5 km is steep, then it levels out.
Otherwise, if you want a little adventure in the forest just hit the dirt path.
Bukit Kiara Trail from Ayuria, Mt Kiara
This trail starts at the opposite entrance of the Ayuria condominium. There is a clear trail that connects all the way to Taman Tun if you which to hike all the way there. The trail is well maintained and it passes waterfalls, huge boulders, strange tree, streams, old rubber trees and it is rather enthralling! For more details on the highlights of Bukit Kiara trail, please click here)
*there are about 6 entrances into Bukit Kiara trail and countless trails that you can explore. Among them from Kampung Palimbayan, Heliconia Trail from Kampung Sungai Penchala, Behind SMK Seri Hartamas..... and more that I am still exploring!
2. Bukit Gasing
For PJ dwellers, Bukit Gasing or Gasing Hill is certainly no strangers to many. Situated near PJ Old Town, Bukit Gasing is a hidden gem in Seksyen 5 neighborhood off Jalan Gasing (linked to google map). It is easily accessible from either Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya, and it has a great vantage point of the city!
There are many hiking trails to choose from. They range from easy to moderate in terms of difficulty. Each trail takes one to two hours. The course is about 2.45-9km, leading to a suspension bridge, watch tower, and Hindu temple. A river runs through the forest and you can trek using it as your path.
The flight of stairs up the Abu Bakar Hill is a good quad and gluteus maximus workout course!
Flora and fauna
It was a rubber estate in the past but, over the years, the miraculous restorative powers of nature have been allowed to work their magic and the park is now a haven of lush secondary forest including some pretty large trees. I found the wild lime bushes interesting, the fruits were oozing with juice!
There are many monkeys and squirrels and butterflies along the trail too!
Gasing Hill is truly a gem in the city, easily accessible, rich in flora and fauna and well maintained trail!
3. Kota Damansara Forest Reserve
This is a little well organised gem within the city if you need a forest bath or a little unwinding from the city's hustle and bustle. Grab Car or drive and park by the side of the road to the trailhead (linked to google map).
There are a myriad of trails here suitable for every level. They are well-maintained and suitable paths to introduce to young hikers from 5 years old.
Here are few of the trails:-
Petaling Trail –Easy 25 minute walk suitable for children and all fitness levels.
Scouts’ Trail – Easy 45 mins walk suitable for all fitness levels.
Temuan Trail – This is an additional 2 km loop from the Scouts’ Trail. Add this to the Scouts’ Trail walk for a combined 4 km or a hike 80 mins
Sahabat Trail – A full 6 km walk takes 90–120 mins.
Unity Trail – This 2 km trail strategically links the entire trail network by joining the Harmoni Trail and the Sahabat Trail.
Harmoni Trail – Easy 2 km Trail
Sipew’s Garden – This is an ethnobotanical garden of about 800 meters
Unity Peak - about 2km in length it is asses via the Unity Trail walk
Denai Tiga Puteri – Denai Tiga Puteri which is about 1.5 km in length is accessed from Unity Trail.
The forest floor is filled with all sorts of mushrooms.
Note: Due to the lake around the vicinity, there are swamps of mosquitos. However the further you hike from the lake it gets less. But do remember to spray yourself generously with mosquito repellent and don't let any flesh unturned!
4. Bukit Ketumbar, Apek Hill
Bukit Ketumbar located at Cheras Baru in Kuala Lumpur with the height of around 300 meters and distance around 1.4km to the top. Average hikers can reach the top within 1 or less!
You get a brilliant view of the city from the vantage point, but the prize of this hike is the opportunity to walk along with the wild boars which roam freely around the hills.
To get here, get a GRAB CAR or if you are driving, park along the road towards Ketumbar Condo (linked to google map). The parking may be full depending on which days to attempt the hike! There is a temple on the left, and walk straight in to the trail head of the hike.
The hike is rather direct, straight up to the peak with, a left or right option, the right being the more challenging option but both leads to the peak!
If you take the right path, at the fork, take the right you can view the sweeping scenery of Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Along the trail the boars may come up to you, don't get startled and don't go too close to them!
At the peak, it is sort of an open air gym with more wild boars. It is really an interesting place, where the locals meet up and perform their regular morning walks.
There are trails here connected to Ah Pek Hill and Saga Hill respectively.
The Kutumba Hill trail is truly enjoyable, short & sweet, suitable for children and elders alike!
Note: There are wild boars roaming the area, so best not to get startle, and don't bring food with you.
5. Bukit Besi, Alam Damai, Cheras
Cheras has many hiking options to offer! Bukit Besi, is situated in the opposite direction of the Ketumbar Hill, doesn't have as many friendly wild boars as Ketumbar Hill, but it has a magnificent view of the mountains of Selangor and the glorious KL skyline!
Getting here: Get to the OCBC bank in Alam Damai (google map link)
The hike is a loop, 2.48km and it is relatively easy.
Park your car at the shops, around OCBC bank. Cross the main road and you will see a dirt road that will lead you into the wooded area. Walk up the shady dirt road for 10 minutes and you will arrive at the reservoir.
From here make a left and hike along the parameter of the reservoir and soon you will reach a lookout point (checkpoint 1).
Tip: the blocks on top of the sea of clouds would be Genting, the floating city on clouds/
Although this is not the main lookout point, the view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline here against the mountains is glorious. From here, you could either climb to the left boulder for better views or you could proceed on your hike at the right, or do both!
Soon you will reach a clearing and the views here is wider and further (checkpoint 2).
From here, proceed to a shady area 'Alice in Wonderland' and you will reach (checkpoint 3)
There is a hammock- you could nap, a tent and an open gym with rock weights!
Follow the path, you will pass some artificial flowers on trees (just imagine they are rafflesia), giant boulder, and soon you will arrive at the Army Telecommunication Station tower which is the highest point in Bukit Besi 291m. (checkpoint 4) If you follow the edge of the fence, you will arrive at a clearing with another view of the city. (be careful as the path is untrodden and close to the barb wires)
Backtrack, make a U-turn from where you came and proceed downhill. You will arrive at a fork, take the uphill path to reach mini falls of Bukit Besi. (checkpoint 5)
After the mini-falls, it is just another 5 minutes walk out! There are 2 options here. One is the straight forward walk and another involves in interesting rope descent.
Either one will bring you to the exit! Watch out for slippery surfaces on the drainage stairs.
You will come to another reservoir. And if you follow the path down you will reach slightly away from the carpark area. You could follow the path and retrace from where you came in the very beginning.
Habitats in Bukit Besi
Bukit Besi is full of surprises with a good mix of trails, views and a mini fall! This little hill is indeed a hidden gem in the middle of the city!
6. Setia Alam, Saputangan, Mirror Lake
This short hike is one with less content but so much celebration at the end!
Set amidst the new housing area at Setia Eco Park, this community trail has a variety of options for hikes at different fitness level!
Getting here: Waze or Google map, Setia Alam Comunity Trail Head. The parking, however, is slightly tricky. Due to the surge in hikers recently (pandemic fatigue), the traffic here in the weekends is horrendous. Park at designated areas if you do not want to be compounded! (Petron gas station area) If you decide to park at the reservoir area, it is at your own risk!
There are 2 very huge signs that warns trespassers entering the area. An ambiguous sign that most hikers ignore but the whopping 500K fine is certainly hard to disregard! (as of today 1 October, no official statement has been made, but for now, hikers are still ignoring the sign, check out on the community facebook page for updates)
Peak Garden is the highest point of Bukit Cherakah Forest, standing at 250 meters above sea level, while Bukit Sapu Tangan comes next at 241 meters above sea level.
Tips: The trail to the Peak Garden is an excavated hill with no trees or shade cover. If you are going to venture here, either do it early in the morning or late in the afternoon as it gets really hot when the sun rays reflect from the ground!
Flora and Fauna
Over the years Setia Alam residence, have contributed tremendously in preserving and maintaining the trail. The routes are well marked and self-explanatory, or to be safe you could download the trail map. (Komoot app)
Although largely degraded from its original state, there are still some patches within the forest that retain their original characteristics. Here the trees still stand tall, monkeys still call, and you would be forgiven for thinking you’re in the middle of an expansive wilderness.
Tips: It does get slippery and muddy after rain, so walking sticks are advisable.
Great choice for beginners with a spectacular lake as the cherrie on the cake!
Hiking here is rather depressing as you and can see there are many development plans around the area. It is astonishing how much encroaching of the jungle has threatened the biodiversity of the area. So many trees here are dying and falling. The forest here is in peril and we must enjoy it while it is still there! I truly hope the residence of Setia Alam, the vanguards of the forest can continue to pressure and protect their green lung for the sake of future generations to come!
7. Bukit Sri Bintang, Kepong
Folded between Desa Parkcity and Kepong this twin peak is easily accessible for urban hikers, not needing to venture across borders for a good quad workout. It is actually part of a more extensive forested area which extends south as far as Bukit Kiara and is separated from this area by the North-South Expressway.
Getting here: Google Sri Bintang trailhead, it starts at Jalan Sri Bintang 8 in Kepong
*You will be parking at the housing estate, just beware not to obstruct residence entrances. We noticed that many residence there are not exactly welcoming with the throngs of enthusiastic hikers especially of late when no travel restrictions imposed!
Sri Bintang is basically a twin peak hike, Peak 1( KL view) and Peak 2 ( Batu Caves, mountain view). It is short and sweet and great for a morning workout and back to the comfort of own's home. The view rewards is incredible considering it's proximity to the city.
Please click here for a more detail explanation of the Sri Bintang hike. This easy to moderate hike is prefect for a family hike with some rock hunting at the excavated land area! (crystal quartz)
Some parts of the area seemed to be ear-marked for future developments. The landscape I see today might be obstructed by a huge condominium in 6 months. Our green lung in the city is getting smaller and smaller and there might be nothing left for our future generation.
8. Bukit Wawasan, Ayer Hitam Reserve Forest, Puchong
I have save the best for last. The Ayer Hitam forest reserve in Puchong is one of the most precious tracts of remaining lowland dipterocarp forest in Klang valley. Originally covering 4270 hectares and gazetted as a forest reserve way back in 1906, it is now only 1200 hectares or less due to encroachment of land throughout the years.
There are few tracks you could take to reach the highest peak 233m. But your trail will not be complete if you do not meander away from the main path to witness the unbelievable beauty of the pristine and crystal clear waterfall "Blue Lagoon"!
Most sand in the tropical forest is a deep occur yellow, but here, it is almost like the coral white sand by the beach! Thus reflecting the emerald green of the forest surrounding the pool! (I wonder why it is called the blue lagoon and not green)
Note: There is perhaps a reason why among all these parks, Bukit Wawasan is the most pristine. It is in fact this park sits on private land leased out to a nearby local university, University Putra Malaysia (UPM) since the 1990s, for 80 years, as a living “laboratory” for students to conduct research. Therefore if you are caught by a patrolling ranger, the possibilities are that he may ask you to leave or fine as you are trespassing! But whatever it is, leave only footprints behind and take your trash away!
Each and every one of these parks are unique. Their fragile beauty, and the future of their existence are in our hands and we should be the vanguards to allow them to strive for generations to come!
Among these 7 parks, in my opinion, Bukit Wawasan its most pristine. My favourite park would be Bukit Kiara, simply for it's range of trails and suitability for hikers or joggers for all ages and ability. If you have some better parks and trails to recommend, please leave a comment behind!
NEVER STOP EXPLORING!