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Selected Nature Trails of Penang Island

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(c) Forest Ang

Length: 5 km 2 hours
Recreational grading : 2-3
Condition: disturbed but substantial natural character remaining
  • well used (trail to Eighty Four)
  • light (trail to Bukit Cendana)
    Status: forest reserve

    There are several trails to Bukit Cendana. Trails from Air Itam and the Botanic Gardens, as well as numerous other connecting trails leading to Eighty Four, all coincide at Bukit Cendana. The best route, starting from Moon Gate and ending at Botanic Gardens, is a circular one and takes about 2 hours to complete.

    The trek starts at Moon Gate, a circular concrete arch on the left-hand side of Waterfall Road, about 300 metres before the main entrance to the Botanic Gardens. The track is well defined due to frequent use by trekkers. Some parts are heavily eroded. The roots of trees form natural steps, and some trees have been labelled by the Forestry Department. The track is steep most of the way. There are several short cuts along the way, but unless you want sudden steep climbs, keep to the main path. Some hikers have cut steps along the trail but this has caused more exposed surface and, eventually, more erosion. Depending on your stamina you should be able to reach the level path in 20-30 minutes.

    At the 213 metres (700 ft) level, the trail levels off to an easy walk, taking you through shady forest and clearings overgrown with ferns such as gleichenia and dicrantis. A path on your left leads down to the Youth Park. After that you will pass a three metre high rock on your right, which has been developed into a rest area and tea kiosk.

    Continue walking for 25 minutes, and you should see a Y-fork. Keep to the right and in less than a minute after that fork there is a junction that ascends moderately to the right. It runs up the slope of Bukit Cendana. At this point, you have a choice to continue straight to Eighty Four (Route A) or to take the right junction (Route B)

    Route A: Continue straight ahead along the trail to Eighty Four. Around the corner from Eighty Four, there is a steep trail leading off to the right. Follow the trail up and you will reach the junction with Route B. To reach Bukit Cendana you have to hike up the path on your right.

    Route B: The trail climbs upward, passing through overgrown secondary undergrowth with some exposed and barren areas. This track is not well used. It is heavily eroded with little shade as protection from the sun. The hill slope was formerly burnt and tree cover is sparse. Along the track you will enjoy scenic views of Georgetown and Tanjung Tokong. The trail eventually comes to the ruins of Halfway House, a bungalow on Bukit Cendana. A few exotic flowering plants still grow around the bungalow site. Enjoy the scene before you continue your descent. After about 6 minutes you will come to a junction which leads to Eighty Four.

    Continuing from the junction where Route A meets Route B: There is a rain gauge a few metres ahead. Unlike the ascending trail, the descending trail is shady, with many huge trees along the way. This part of the forest has never been burnt. (Simple reasoning tells us that trees provide shade that prevent the forest litter from catching fire). The trail runs parallel to the Jeep Road, descending to meet it at Forty Eight. Enjoy the mini fitness garden here. You can take the Jeep Road or the levelled laterite track beside it down to the Botanic Gardens.

    The flat laterite track will lead you to the Botanic Gardens. Walk along it for about 8 minutes until you come to an abrupt descent that goes directly to the waterfall catchment area. There is a hikers’ rest area at the junction. Take the path on your right, away from the cascading waterfall. Ten metres ahead the levelled path descends steeply to the Botanic Gardens. You should be able to reach the gardens in less than half an hour.

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