February 23, 2014

Venus Drive TreeTop Walk to Bukit Panjang

Suspension bridge on the TreeTop Walk
The route consisted of part of the TreeTop Walk, Rifle Range Road and the Bukit Timah Pipeline Trail to Bukit Panjang. Along the way we would take a side-trip to the Peirce Reservoir and walk past the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

TreeTop Walk
We started the walk from Thomson Plaza along Upper Thomson Road to Venus Drive. At the Venus Drive carpark we started on the TreeTop Walk. The first 100m was across an open patch but for the remainder of the trail it was under cover of the forest canopy. Initially the trail followed a stream then through the remains of an abandoned kampong. Just before the SICC Clubhouse the trail would run parallel to the Island Club Road. Near the SICC Clubhouse is a trail that would lead us back to the MacRitchie Reservoir Trail. we skipped  this one and followed the knee-high signages pointing to the TreeTop Walk. 

After about 45 mins from the carpark we arrived at the Ranger Station, took a break before beginning the ascent to the bridge which is a highlight of the walk. There is a toilet and a filtered chilled water dispenser where we could top up our water bottles. Along the way we noticed that there were more visitors than normal. Usually we would pass one or two groups of hikers but on this occasion, we encountered several times more. It appeared that more people were taking refuge from the dry spell of the current month.

After a short rest we ascended the hill to the bridge. The bridge is closed on Monday for maintenance. It is one-way so once we enter the gate we have to proceed all the way along the rest of the trail. For those afraid of heights or dislike the swinging suspension bridge stay close to your friends. There is a ranger on duty at the entrance. On this occasion there were 2 macaques guarding the entrance as well!

After crossing the bridge the balance of the trail is a boardwalk with lots of steps up and down. Positioned along the trail were huts providing rest stops.and refuge from rain. Signages are posted along the trail explaining the various flora and fauna of the forest.

Halfway along the boardwalk, we came across an earth trail along pipeline laid underground. We turned right to follow the trail the rest of way instead of completing the TreeTop Walk. This trail runs in a straight line to Rifle Range Road. Soon we arrived at a spillway used to transfer water from Peirce Reservoir to MacRitchie Reservoir. We were lucky on this occasion when the spillway was transferring water creating a cascade of water down the steps. We followed the spillway to the source at the Peirce Reservoir.

Spillway between Peirce and MacRitchie Reservoir
Bukit Timah Pipeline Trail
At the end of this trail is a complex operated by ST Kinetics. We walked along Rifle Range Road keeping a lookout for traffic because this is a narrow two-way road. At the Murnane Reservoir, we stepped over the road divider on the right and moved on to the main Bukit Timah Pipeline Trail in a northerly direction. This trail runs all the way to Woodlands about 9km away.

While on the trail one could choose to walk on the open grass trail or follow the bike trail on the right side. On the day of the walk it was hot so we chose to take the bike trail that runs through the trees. At some stage the bike trail will divide into two but join up at a later stage.

For the first 1.5km the trail will skirt Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and form part of the Bukit Timah Bike Trail and is called the Belukar Trail. After crossing under the Dairy Farm Road it becomes part of Zhenghua Park. This park is equipped with a cycling/running track, shelters and exercise station and a playground. It is parallel to the Bukit Timah Expressway but is oblivious to people travelling on the highway as it is hidden by greenery. Near Chestnut Avenue is a new condominium under construction. At Bukit Panjang Road we left the trail and ended our walk.