Forget MacRitchie, these are the best hiking trails in Singapore to explore now
We might not (yet) be in a full lockdown again but it sure feels like it.
And while there are always the options of outdoor exercise classes and working out at home, it’s always nice to switch things up on the fitness front, and there’s no better place for that than out in the wild.
Hiking isn’t a new concept in Singapore but the options can be limiting, especially when your knowledge of hiking trails starts and stops at MacRitchie. Despite being a densely populated city, Singapore is home to plenty of hiking trails around the island — many in plain sight but a handful, tucked away for only the brave and the bold.
If you thought that these are just going to be another walk in the park, you’d be mistaken. Hiking is an excellent activity for the body and mind, and unlike your usual strolls can build strength in your lower body, improve balance, and strengthen your core more effectively. Connecting with nature also improves mental health and well-being, and is a welcomed escape from technology and being cooped up at home.
Here are the lesser-known parks and their hiking trails to bookmark the next time you’re up for an adventure.
Chestnut Nature Park
At 81 hectares, Chestnut Nature Park — adjacent to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve — is Singapore’s largest nature park to date. Divided into North and South areas, the park has hiking trails totalling 5.6km, with winding slopes and challenging terrain to keep things interesting. Because the park is part of NPark’s ongoing habitat enhancement programme, expect to experience native tree species, endangered bird species, and even hidden streams. Those interested in biking will also revel in the park’s dedicated mountain biking trail, which even has a pump track where bikers can practise their stunts.
Duration: Around two hours
(Image credit: NParks)
Hindhede Nature Park
The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve isn’t the only trail worth exploring in the neighbourhood. If you’re seeking a new experience, the Hindhede Nature Park is located right next to the famous reserve, and while only 90m long is rife with wildlife like the banded woodpecker, plantain squirrel, and clouded monitor lizard, so keep your eyes peeled. This scenic trail culminates with the Instagram-worthy Hindhede Quarry.
Duration: 15 to 20 minutes
(Image credit: Wikimedia)
Windsor Nature Park
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was somewhere in the UK, but the former rubber plantation-turned-regenerating forest is actually a buffer park to MacRitchie via a link to the Treetop Walk. Expect three fairly easy trails here, some with natural paths and others with raised boardwalks. The longest trail here is 2.2km, making it a leisurely option for those who seek a relaxing time amidst nature. Whilst there, look out for unique dragonfly species; the park has recorded nearly half of the 122 species in Singapore at this very park.
Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours
Ever wondered what it was like to walk from coast to coast? Well, there’s actually a trail for that. The 36km-long trail that spans across the island links up nature areas, parks, and park connectors, giving you the opportunity you to walk from Jurong Lake Gardens in the west to the new Lornie Nature Corridor in the central part of Singapore, and then to Coney Island Park in the Northeast.
Even if you have zero navigational skills, there’s an online trail guide and even a mobile app (iOS and Android) to help you find your way across town. On the way, expect to pass quarry lakes, lush forests, and even old cemeteries. This one might be best experienced with a friend.
Duration: the whole day
(Image credit: NParks)
Another that’s for the brave is the Woodneuk Trail, a short but steep hike up that leads to Istana Woodneuk, an abandoned mansion once owned by Malaysian royalty in 1860, before serving as a military hospital during WWII when it was also bombed by the Japanese. The well-hidden trail and property is said to be haunted, and can be found between masses of vegetation between Holland Road and Tyersall Avenue.
Duration: 15 minutes
(Image credit: Flickr)
The Abandoned Railway Hike
Many know of the defunct line from Tanjong Pagar to Bukit Timah but few have explored the Jurong Railway line that once served the KTM Malayan Railway Network. It’s been almost two decades since the line was closed, but there’s still a remnant of the past that can be experienced. The main line is 14.5km long, and branches off from the former Bukit Timah Railway Station through to Pasir Panjang before heading to Shipyard Road. On the way, you’ll see the old Bukit Timah Railway Station, a secret railway tunnel, and plenty of greenery.
Duration: four hours
(Image credit: Daphne Chul/Flickr)