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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!