Hike: Teluk Bahang to Bukit Batu Itam

The trail to Bukit Batu Itam from Teluk Bahang is one of the newest trails in Penang. While this hill has a long history behind it its relative remote location has made it known and accesible to few till recently.Standing at around 460 meters above sea level,Bukit Batu Itam is the tallest peak in the Penang National Park and its slopes form the eastern boundary between Penang National Park and the Teluk Bahang Dam. The “black rock” or “Batu Itam” from which it got its name is visible from the Teluk Bahang Dam.

This trail is almost 10-11km for a full loop and is not recommended for beginners. Be prepared for a full day’s hike and bring ample supply of water and food.

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A huge tree in Penang National Park

The trail starts at the Penang National Park Entrance in Teluk Bahang. Stick to the main trail till the hanging bridge. You will come to a junction where the trail diverges in two, one going to Pantai Kerachut and the other to Muka Head.

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Take the left turn to Teluk Kampi and Pantai Kerachut.

Take the trail that leads you to Pantai Kerachut and Teluk Kampi. For the next 20-25 minutes this trail will take you uphill.You will pass a river,a junction to Sungai Tukun and finally emerge at a rest shed after the “Tunnel”.

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The “Tunnel”

At the rest shed you will see that the trail diverges to two again. Going straight will lead you down to Pantai Kerachut while taking left will lead you up to Bukit Batu Itam.

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A well marked and safe trail! Rexy recommends this as one of the “must try” trails in Penang!

The trail is clearly marked with a huge signboard at this point. Take a short rest and take this left diversion uphill.For the next 20-25 minutes you will be going steep uphill till finally you reach the peak of the hill. PERHILITAN who are in charge of the upkeep of the park has done a good job by making benches and rest points along the way.

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Steep Uphill Climb.
Image I call them the the “Three musketeers”

From the peak the trail goes downhill before heading uphill again.Within the next 20 minutes you’ll will come to a small patch of secondary rainforest where there is a good view of the Teluk Bahang valley,Western Hill and Bukit Laksamana.Take a rest here and don’t forget take ample photos too as this is the only good view along the way.

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At the viewpoint.
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Teluk Bahang.

Image Western Hill and Bukit Laksamana in the foreground. Penang doesn’t offer anything higher than these two monoliths

Image  There is much to learn in a trip to the Penang National Park.Be sure to spare a few minutes and read the information put up by the National Park Authorities. You’ll never know when it could be useful!

Image Primary Rainforest. Olam HaZeh in all her beauty.

Within 2 minutes of reaching this point the trail winds back into the forest and continues for another 700 meters or about 20 minutes till you come to the first Bukit Batu Itam campsite. At this point you would have travelled about 3.90-4.00km.

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The campsite has all the facilities you could ask for.

The campsite, while equipped with all the facilities you could as for is unfortunately quiet due to its “far flung” location. You’ll notice a marker saying that the right diversion will take you down to Teluk Kampi while going straight ahead will lead you to Bukit Batu Itam. Go straight for the next 40-45 minutes.

Image  GO STRAIGHT!

This is the toughest part of your hike,as there would be a final steep slope before you reach Bukit Batu Itam. After this stretch of steep ascent the trail will level at around 420 meters above sea level,from which it is an easy walk to reach the Batu Itam Summit.

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The steepest part of the trail.Brace yourself!

In about 5.50km from the starting point,you would be standing at the peak of Bukit Batu Itam.There is another campsite here and a small rain gauge right in the middle of the summit. This is an ideal place to break for lunch and refuel.

Image  At the peak!

Image Bukit Batu Itam Summit Campsite.

There are many options of going down,either to the Hokkien Cemetery,Balik Pulau or even Teluk Kampi. This trail guide discusses only the trail down to Teluk Kampi and Pantai Kerachut. From the peak continue down till you reach the first campsite which you passed earlier. At this point take the left turning which goes down for 30-35 minutes before emerging at a three way junction.

Image Going Down.

Image  Three way junction.

At this point you have an option of taking the left fork down to Teluk Kampi or taking the straight path which goes gently uphill and then finally down to Pantai Kerachut.

Image The trail goes gently uphill before going downhill to Pantai Kerachut.

The trail down to Pantai Kerachut will probably take you around 15 minutes after which you have an option of taking the boat back the trail. Happy Hiking!

Image Pantai Kerachut

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The Meromitic Lake is dry this time of the year

Image Trail Map

Hike: The 646 steps to Bukit Juru

Bukit Juru is one of the smaller hills that dot the Penang mainland and is good if you are looking at a short workout through one of Penang’s lesser known hills.

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The dense forests of Bukit Juru.

The trail starts near Kampung Sungai Semilang near Kuala Juru. In an effort to get tourists and hikers to come, 646 steps have been built to the summit of this 200 meter hill. While small parts of it have been swallowed up by the jungle,this trail is generally easy and clear to follow.

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Bukit Juru hill is located in a forest reserve.

If you are coming from Penang take the Juru exit and take the right turn into Jalan Kebun Nanas,and then a left into Jalan Perusahaan.You’ll have to drive along Jalan Perusahaan for about 5-6 minutes before you finally hit the 4 way junction with a traffic light.Here take right into Jalan Juru and continue along this road as it takes a turn into the Juru countryside.

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Directions

Soon you’ll come to another 2 way junction where you need to take a right turn into Jalan Kuala Juru. 10 meters on there would be a small parking space opposite “Warung Pak Su.
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Warung Pak Su. Park your car here.

Park your car here before you embark on the hike. Cross the road and you’ll notice a small signage on the ground saying “Jom Kita Pi Naik Bukit Juru“.

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Jom Kita Pi!

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Take the road beside the sign.

Take the road to the left of this sign and within 15 meters you’ll come to another junction where you are supposed to take the right turn.

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Take right.

Within a minute you’ll be in an abandoned coconut farm and finally you’ll be standing at the start of the Bukit Juru hill steps.

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Goes into an abandoned coconut plantation.

Take these step and continue up all the way through the thick rainforest till the Bukit Juru peak.

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646 steps to the top of Bukit Juru.

There are 646 steps up to the peak and at every 100 or so meters, there would be a small marker telling you how many steps you have covered.

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146 more to go!

Depending on  your fitness this trail will take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes of uphill climb.

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Its great to see the diversity in HaShem’s creation!

Due to the think foliage, there is only one viewpoint which is a short distance before the summit where you could get a bird’s eye view of the Juru countryside.

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View from Bukit Juru.

At the peak there is a small shed and a signage congratulating you on your successful ascent of Bukit Juru. Take a short rest here before continuing your hike down or exploring the smaller trails that radiate from the summit. Happy hiking!

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Bukit Juru Summit.

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Keeping up with the “trend” these days,taking a selfie on the peak is an absolute must!

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Trail Map

 

 

Hike: Middle Station to Penang Hill

Till 2011, Middle Station on Penang Hill used to be the stopover for commuters who took the funicular train up to Penang Hill. I used to remember how people hurriedly got out of the first train to the next connecting one in hopes of getting a seat on the next train.
Well those days just remain a memory now, as the new train has more space,does not have a pit stop at Middle Station and takes only 10 minutes to reach the summit! That being said, Middle Station which used to be abuzz with people till about 3 years ago, now remains quite empty and eerily silent.
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Middle Station now is filled with flowers.

This trail description assumes that you come to the Middle Station through trails from the eastern slope of Penang Hill (or more accurately the north-eastern side) like the Hye Keat Estate trail or the Botanic Gardens trail and wish to get to the summit through trails on the western slope of the hill.
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Trail from Hye Keat estate gives you a magnificent view of the Bukit Cendana slope.

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Air Itam and Paya Terubong

If you are coming from Hye Keat Estate trail which passes a temple, keep going till you hit a junction at the end of the farms where the right turn leads you steeply up to Claremont Station while the left turn leads you steeply down to Middle Station.Take this left turn and within 5-10 minutes you’ll be at Middle Station.

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Going to Middle Station.

At Middle Station cross over to the other side of the tracks and follow the cemented path which passes through the metal fence up along the  side of railway track. Stay a safe distance away from the railway tracks and make no attempt in touching or getting too close to the track. 10 meters on, you will come to a row of steps on your left which leads up to a dwelling and a cement road going gently up the slope on your left.

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Follow the small path which goes through the metal fence.

Take the left turning and continue straight ahead for the next 15 minutes.You should be passing many farms on your left and right with an amazing view of the Paya Terubong-Air Itam valley below.Keep to the main cement trail and don’t take any diversions until you reach a small junction within 15 minutes where hikers have marked clearly with the words “Penang Hill” and “Middle Station”.

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Take the right turning up at this point. Leads you to Penang Hill.

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Much of the natural vegetation along the first stretches of this trail have been replaced by flower and vegetable farms

Take this left turning up and within 5 minutes you will come to another junction where you should take right. In about 600 meters you will come to yet another junction where you should take left.As you progress along this left turning, you will soon notice that you are in a primary jungle.

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Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve

This section of the trail is part of the 2287 hectare “Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve”. Soon the cement trail will come to another junction where a left turning leads you down to the Brother’s Bunglow while the right turning leads you up ahead to Penang Hill.Take this right turning and continue.

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Along the trail.

300 meters along this trail you will hit the next junction.To the left,the road leads you Mon Sejour,and to the right to Penang Hill. Take the right turning and within 20 meters of taking this turning you’ll notice a left diversion going uphill. Take this road and in the next 20-30 minutes you will arrive at Tunnel Road West.
At this point you have the choice of taking the right turning and continue up to the top  or take the longer left turn which leads you to the Upper Tunnel Station,Tunnel Road East and finally connecting at the Penang Hill Police Station. Happy hiking!

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Looking down from the Upper Tunnel Station into the Penang Hill Funicular Railway Tunnel.

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Trail Map.