Air Itam to the Old Ridge Path for
Tiger Hill/5 Way junction (blue trail)
There is an interesting alternative to visit Tiger Hill. Instead of hiking up to 5 Way
Junction (see this page), there is a trail that
leads to Tiger Hill via a track on the way to Penang Hill without reaching it along Tiger
Hill over the Old Ridge Path to the pass and Tiger Valley. This is a longer hike in partly
more remote forest reserve. In short, a challenging trail. From the start at Kek Lok Si
until the end of the Old Ridge Path takes about 4 hours. Here's how you walk it yourself
(see the map at the end of the page: blue trail).
Bukit Kerajaan forest reserve, only at a few places the path is overgrown like here
The start is in Air Itam at the Kek Lok Si temple. Find the Kwarn Inn Sahn Pow Yin Sian Psi (P) gate and hike up towards Air
Itam Dam. After 20-25 minutes you will reach the rock telling you the direction to Air
Itam Dam, but instead of following the dam trail, follow the main road which goes right.
This road swindles sometimes a bit steep up.
The rock that signs the direction to the dam, don't follow but continue
on the main road to your right.
The road passes both cultivated land and unspoiled rainforest but it isn't until
you have passed the Tiger Hill/Dam junction you will be in the rainforest proper.
On the way there are some fine views to Air Itam and Paya Terubong including
a view to the back of the Lean Wah Tong Temple (there is a
connecting trail between the temple
and the ongoing road you are walking on.
From this point on cultivated land will appear including two junctions to your left.
Both however lead to farms and are dead ends.
The "Middle Way" junction (to the right), we continue left!
After about 45 minutes on this road, you will reach a junction which directs you
to the "Middle Way". This is apparently a trail that should lead to Penang
Hill but we skip this in this hike. Our trail leads left and further up the hill with
again here and there fine views to Air Itam and Paya Terubong including views to
the Penang Bridge.
The road gets a bit smaller and within 5 minutes you will reach a shelter.
The road continues to a farm just minutes further and another continuing path
for another 2 minutes but it will turn out to be a dead end.
Take the trail to your left, the continuing road is a dead end
There is a however a continuing path just after the shelter. There is a very
small path to your left. Follow the path through the forest for a few minutes until you reach again
cultivated land. There is a small trail directly to your right which leads along
the farm land in a few minutes to the forest proper.
The path to the farmland. Follow the path until the green vegetation stops
and farmland starts, than move directly right to climb up along the fields.
It's an easy to miss path but if you miss it, the end of the trail is just 50
meters further. Climb up next to the field. The entrance to the jungle is right
in front of you and although the first few meters might not be encouraging as it
is much overgrown, the paths will clear up after.
Some parts of the trail offer some difficulty
Once in the forest,
the path is mostly clear although there are some obstacles. These can be fallen trees or,
like the above photo, a rock where you have to step a little down on slippery sand and
climb up. But nothing is really difficult nor dangerous.
The name of the hill, according to the board is Bukit Kerajaan (Government Hill) but it's more
likely to be an announcement it's just government land.
The trail is now for the most clear and easy going and continues climbing,
albeit very moderate for most of the time. About 35 minutes after
entering the forest you will reach a junction. There is even a metal sign board
(apparently there used to be several of them) which shows the direction to Tiger Hill
and dam, going left and up. Going right leads quickly to Penang Hill.
The metal sign reads Tiger Hill and Dam.
This is the start of what is called the Old Ridge Path and connects you to the
5 Way Junction-Tiger Valley trail (see this page).
From this point on it's another 40 minutes walk towards rain gauge 29 all
along Tiger Hill although you are not able to see the transmission station at the top.
The path now mostly levels though at some points it climbs slowly until rain gauge 29.
Rain gauge 29 is a 3 way junction. The left trail leads back to Air Itam but we
take the right trail which stays on the ridge of the hill. There won't be any spectacular
views to either side although you are able to see the Tiger Hill Valley to your right.
From this point to the connecting 5 Way Junction-Tiger Hill Valley trail is 35 minutes.
After about 10 minutes you will find a steep slope going down. There's a rope
to help you out here.
The Old Ridge Path with a short but steep descending, ropes are ready to help you.
After the steep descending it's another 25 minutes (partly steep) going down until you're on
the col of the connecting 5 Way Junction-Tiger Hill Valley path.
The last meters of the Old Ridge Path, you can see the connecting path 5 Way Junction-Tiger Hill
The last 50 meters are steep down but than you're at the main trail that connects
5 Way Junction and Tiger Hill. Here you have to decide where you want to continue further.
5 Way Junction is 15 minutes to your left while Tiger Valley is another good half hour
walk and Tiger Hill another hour (see this page).
From 5 Way Junction you have several options: Air Itam Dam to your left (coming from
this trail), right in front the trail to Ngoh Han Hill temple and Balik Pulau, the main
left road leads also to Balik Pulau (but take care when it has been raining) and to your
ultimate right there is a road that eventually leads to Titi Kerawan waterfall.
Time schedule to expect:
Kek Lok Si - Air Itam Dam Rock: 25 minutes
Air Itam Dam Rock - Middle Way Junction: 45-50 minutes
Middle Way Junction - Tiger Hill Junction: 45-50 minutes
Tiger Hill Junction - Rain Gauge 29: 35-40 minutes
This is an interesting option. The trail can easily
be cycled and hiked. You'll pass beautiful tropical rainforest
and cultivated areas with fruit farms, a wonderful day out in
the heart of Penang with an option to visit the Ngoh Han Hill Temple
with spectacular views to Balik Pulau.