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Balik Pulau to Air Putih (hiking & cycling)


Some areas are more visited than others. There is a nice trail to hike from Balik Pulau to Air Putih which is on the way to Teluk Bahang on road #6. The trail I am going to describe can be done on foot and on bicycle. Personally I prefer on foot for several reasons: 1. I see more when I walk and 2. some of the ascending/descending's are very steep and small paths.

An usual view over Air Putith

It all starts at the bus station/market of Balik Pulau. From here start as describe on the Balik Pulau to 5 Way Junction. In short, walk out of Balik Pulau using the road to Air Itam and take the junction Penang Island Catholic Cemetery (it's not the one directly after the bridge but the next road to your left).

Main junction for Air Putih
Junction for Air Putih, take the left trail.

It takes about an hour walk up to the main junction to Air Putih (cycling might go faster). Keep an eye on the electricity poles and follow them. At the junction the poles also go left. Going right (the wider road) leads to a dead end although you can continue to 5 Way Junction with care.

Junction on the way to Air Putih

The road is now no more than a small cement road and leads steeply down. After about 13 minutes you will reach a clear junction with a trail to your right. If you wondering where this trail leads to, follow it, it goes steeply up to a farmers shelter and a few minutes later it effectively ends in the fields with no possibility to continue. You can walk back via a rubber plantation and further down join another trail which you have passed on the way up (6 minutes after taking the junction). Follow either the same trail back or the trail through the rubber plantation, both end a farmers shelter.

Back on the main trail

I would not use the bicycle to cycle this junction but continue further down to the junction on the photo above. Follow the trail further down until you reach the next junction.

Junction for Balik Pulau or Air Putih

If you decide to continue straight, just follow the cement road further down and you will arrive near the Petronas filling station just outside Balik Pulau town center. The path to your right leads in a few minutes to a small shelter and further up to first a junction (ignore this) and a T-junction.

Key junction on the way to Air Putih

The road to your left is effectively a dead end. I've tried to find a way through the plantations but failed to find a trail. That said, it was worth the effort of 75 minutes to hike up and explore the cement trail which later turns into a path that ultimately ends, strangely enough, with some steps!

Trails into the hills

It is however worth to try your luck into this plantation because further up there are some good views towards Balik Pulau (see the first photo.

End of the trail with some steps
End of the trail with some steps to nowhere.

As said, I've spend 75 minutes on this trail to find my way through. When I was back at the junction I continued further uphill to the next t-junction, just a few minutes further. The trail left turns quickly into a dead end on a hill top so you have to go right. This cement path leads quickly to Dhammapida Vihara. More views to Air Putih.

Dhammapida Vihara

After Dhammapida Vihara there is a junction to Ratanagiri Bhavanarama Forest Meditation Resort. The road is closed but it didn't stop me to check out if there was a possibility to continue. Unfortunately I was told there was none and was not allowed to continue trying my luck.

mushrooms

Back at the junction the road goes leads quickly down. Within 10-15 minutes walking you will reach a main junction. There is a wide road to your right. This road is interesting for those on bicycle who want to test themselves on steep slopes. I walked all the way up in about 30 minutes.

The road to nowhere

At some places the road is partly blocked by fallen trees but it shouldn't keep you from hiking/cycling up. However, at the top the road just ends like that.

End of the road

At the very end of the road there was just a slippery rock leading down. I didn't want to try my luck here despite it looked like a continuing trail existed. If in case this wouldn't be the case, I would certainly not have been able to climb back. So I walked back the road and continued the last few minutes to the construction site at the edge of the forest. Technically you are not allowed to pass over this private property according to the sign but as there is no alternative .... What is left is another 10-15 minutes walk to the main road (on the way you can get a refreshment/meal in the Pedal Cafe) where you can try to catch bus 403 or 404 to Balik Pulau or 501 to either Balik Pulau or Teluk Bahang. The bus station is still another 4,5 km away.

Do it reverse

If you want to start in Air Putih, there's a few points where you have to take additional attention. The first point is the 4 way junction to Dharmapida Vihara, ignore the left and right junctions but go straight to the Ratanigiri Bhavanarama (Forest Meditation Resort) junction. Should you walk/cycle up, there's some good views over the Balik Pulau area. I've tried to climb up the hill using the old rubber paths and found a forgotten cement water reservoir. I was able to climb all the way to the top but there wasn't any possibility to continue anywhere else.

The highest point near the resort

The left road leads to the resort but has no options to continue further. In fact, you can make a nice loop and come back at the junction. So instead of going left (resort) turn right. The Dharmapida Vihara is just minutes walking away.

Water reservoir
The forgotten water reservoir about 3/4 on the way to the top of the abandonned rubber plantation.

Once at the highest point and start descending, you can take either the first or second junction right. Both roads come later on together. The road continuing straight is also a dead end.

Ratanigiri Bhavanarama (Forest Meditation Resort)
View to Air Putih with Ratanigiri Bhavanarama (Forest Meditation Resort).

Turning right (first or second) will lead to a junction. Turn left and start ascending. Ignore junctions to your right until you reach a house on your left side. There you will find a 4 way junction. Left goes to the house, straight leads up to the hill but is a dead end although you can walk a nice loop. So here you go right. First it's flat but soon the path will start climbing steeply. There is a trail to your left (which could be the end of the loop should you have decided to continue straight at the previous junction).

Critical junction
Critical junction, turn right for Balik Pulau.

You will pass two houses on the way. From the junction to the pass is about 15-20 minutes walk (just follow the electricity poles). After the pass, continue straight and follow the road to the cementery. At the end of the road, turn right to Balik Pulau.

Duration:

The straight cement trail from Balik Pulau to Air Putih (or reverse) should take about 2 to 2.5 hours assuming you don't take any of the additional loops.

Balik Pulau to Air Putih map

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