Almost everybody loves canopy or treetop walkways. A popular feature in many forest reserves and national parks around the world, these suspended elevated walkways perched high among the tree tops afford anyone a glimpse of what the forest looks like above its dense foliage.
The TreeTop Walk is a part of one of the many MacRitchie nature trails in the nature reserve. It is located some ways inside the forest, close to Upper Pierce Reservoir and the Singapore Island Country Club’s (SICC) golf course so it does take a bit of a hike to get to although it is not a difficult walk.
MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore’s oldest reservoir, as well as Upper and Lower Pierce Reservoirs and Upper Seletar Reservoir, all located in the centre of the island, are surrounded by 2,880 ha (28 sq km) of forest forming Singapore’s Central Catchment Nature Reserve. About 5% of the forest is primary forest. The trails cut through the nature reserve, and the TreeTop Walk gives visitors a welcome opportunity to view the impressive and expansive greenery from above the tropical rain forest’s canopy.
If you are afraid of heights or are just not very adventurous, be assured that the TreeTop walk is pretty tame in comparison to other treetop walkways. Based on a quick check online it seems that the world’s current highest treetop walk is a dizzying 50m in height, located in the Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei. The longest is the “Baumwipfelpfad” in the Bavarian Forest National Park, and is an astounding 1.3km long.
Treetop walkways can take the form of skinny rope bridges sometimes literally strung up between trees, so as treetop walkways go this one is really very manageable even for the faint of heart. There is little sway, and you can take a slow walk on it enjoying the refreshing views of the surrounding forest, Upper Pierce Reservoir and part of the golf course in the distance.
The walkway is also used by scientists and park rangers for surveys and plant identification and plays an important role in forestry research.
I scheduled my walk early in the morning to avoid the heat and in order to reach the TreeTop Walk at just past 9am when it opens. You don’t have to go as early as I did however since you will be inside the forest most of the time and will be shielded from the sun’s rays for the most part.
Parts of the trail were a little quiet and deserted on a weekday so I’d recommend you not go alone especially if you are a woman.
If you have the time, and energy, then you might want to include the TreeTop Walk as part of a longer trek along the nature trail. If not, then just start and end at the closest access point which is Venus Drive, where a round trip is about 7-10km long (depending on whether you take the slightly longer Terentang Trail loop or not) and would take at least 3 hours if not more at a comfortable pace.
Much of the first part of the trail runs parallel to Island Club Road, the road leading to the exclusive SICC, and there is actually a shortcut to the trail off the road near the club. You can have your ride drop you off here, or if you are fortunate enough to be a member of the tony club then you can even park at the club and jump on the trail at this point, which is close to a paved road leading to a covered service reservoir compound. This should shave about 45mins to an hour off your trek to the TreeTop Walk.
I’d also recommend you make the extra trek out to Jelutong Tower on your way back from the TreeTop Walk, about a 1.5km there-and-back detour. An alternative vantage point to take in the surroundings and to bird watch, the Jelutong Tower is not very well-publicized although there are plenty of trail signposts pointing the way to it. The steel-framed tower is made up of 6 or 7 open platform levels, with benches at each level so you can rest and relax or bird watch for an extended period of time. We passed someone sitting quietly meditating on one of the levels on the way up. The top of the tower offers a lovely 360 degree view of the surroundings.
MacRitchie Nature Trail, Central Catchment Nature Reserve
Tues- Fri: 9am – 5pm (The walkway has gates at the ends which are locked at 5pm).
Sat, Sun and Public Holidays: 8.30am – 5pm
Closed on Mondays except public holidays.
HOW MUCH TIME
At least 3 hours in total for a round trip. See above.
- The TreeTop Walk took 2 years to build, and was carefully constructed to minimize any disturbance to the underlying vegetation.
- Somewhere further along this trail are the hidden ruins of what was once the Syonan Jinja, a wartime shrine the Japanese built to honour their heroes. The Japanese razed the shrine to the ground when they left however. Today what remains of the shrine is forgotten and unmarked, although there are adventurous trekkers who have managed to locate it. Read one blogger’s account here.
- As in any forest, be very aware of your surroundings. I almost stepped on a dark coloured snake slithering across the path.
- You will probably come across quite a number of monkeys (specifically Long Tailed Macaques). DO NOT FEED THEM. The monkeys have become increasingly aggressive and have even ventured out into the urban areas of the city. Feeding them alters their feeding habits. Also do not look them in the eye or bare your teeth as these are signs of aggression and could provoke the monkeys into attacking you.
- Only 30 people at any one time are allowed on the TreeTop Walk. The walkway is also one-directional.
- There are toilet facilities at the Ranger Station near the TreeTop Walk.
- National Parks Board (NParks) site on the TreeTop Walk
- NParks guide to the walking trail at TreeTop Walk