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Selected Nature Trails of Penang Island

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(c) Forest Ang

Length: 7 km 4-5 hours
Recreational grading : 4
Condition: eroded but with substantial natural character remaining
  • light (towards Western Hill)
  • rare (detours to Crag Hotel)
    Status: waterfall catchment area

    This trail begins from the upper circular road of the Botanic Gardens. From the main gate of the Gardens it will take you 6-10 minutes to reach the start of the trail. After crossing a small bridge, look for a clear cut path on your left. The climb is steep for the first 45 minutes along a well-defined track, then levels off at the 275 metres (900 feet) contour-line. 20 metres further on, there is a signboard on your right showing the different routes available. You can choose to climb up the slope to Forty Eight or Eighty Four and on to the summit of Penang Hill, using the jeep track. However, our trail continues along the level path to the protected water catchment area. You are advised not to pollute the water beyond this point.

    The sound of cascading water can be heard as you get near the stream. Cross a stone bridge and continue. The first rain gauge is just around the corner. 4-5 minutes past the first rain gauge is a T-junction. A right turn takes you back around the Botanic Gardens to Mount Olivia and Fettes Park. But our trail turns left and climbs gently in a south-westerly direction towards Western Hill. There are good views here. Mount Olivia and Pearl Hill take shape in the distance, followed by the entire northern coast of Penang and the isolated, rugged peak of Gunung Jerai on the mainland. Lining the trail on both sides are overgrown gleichenia ferns. The track is heavily eroded.

    About 15 minutes after the T-junction you will see a second rain gauge. Continue for 11 minutes more and you will see a third rain gauge. For the next 35-50 minutes you will climb up and down numerous slopes until you come to the last of the rain gauges (No 9). Stop here to reenergize yourself, for the trail-blazing will begin from this point.

    Search for a path on your left which may be partially covered by ferns. The path descends towards a valley. You will need a parang to slash your way through the dense undergrowth. Occasionally it may be necessary to backtrack to find the correct trail. At the bottom of the valley, there is an underground stream flowing beneath large boulders. Follow the cut mengkuang plants to find your way across the boulders.

    The path from the bottom of the valley up to the Crag Hotel is not well marked and can easily be lost. The trail thins out at many places. It is often densely overgrown. Some root-climbing and bouldering will be necessary. Towards the last part of the trail, you have to make an almost vertical climb. Added to that, the overgrown sun ferns will disorientate your sense of direction. The trail at the final ascent may be complicated by fallen trees. Pause every few minutes to make sure that you are still on the right trail. Eventually you will come to the perimeter of the long-abandoned Crag Hotel. You may be lucky enough to find some antique bottles and other nostalgia lying beneath the bushes.

    A few steps ahead you will be greeted by the Crag Hotel. Enjoy the beauty and ambience of this heritage building before it is demolished. Apart from its fame as a hotel, the site has also been a location for movie filming. Already a modern radio antenna has been built beside the historic main building. This main building is possibly the only building in Malaysia to be embedded on a large boulder.

    To reach Penang Hill, take the well used path which crosses a bridge, sometimes guarded by barking dogs. This path will join the Jeep Road. Turn right and follow the road up to Penang Hill.

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