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Air Itam - Kek Lok Si to the Old Ridge Path
via Rain Gauges 28 and 29 (yellow trail)

There is a great and challenging alternative to climb the Old Ridge Path (see the map at the end of the page: yellow trail). Again it starts at the Kek Lok Si in Air Itam. Take the usual way up starting at Kwarn Inn Sahn Pow Yin Sian Psi (P) gate. Climb up to the rock with directions to Air Itam Dam (left) and turn right. After 6 minutes on this road, there is a forest trail to you left which climbs steep up the hill.

Starting point to rain gauge 29Entry to the forest
Left: the first potential entry point to the forest
Right: the second potential entry point, a few minutes further on the road

Should you miss this junction, a few minutes further on there's a second junction. Regardless which of the two you take, they join after several minutes climbing. Warning: in the rainy season, especially the first part of this trail can be very slippery so wear proper shoes.

Markerstone on the path to RG 29Markerstone on the path to RG 29

The whole climb to both rain gauges are essentially on a ridge. Now you are on the trail that leads in 20-25 minutes to rain gauge 28. 5 minutes further there's a metal sign plate with the direction to penang Hill. Another few minutes further, you're now in full burned forest area (update March 2015: the forest has replenished itself and is green again), there is a marker stone and a junction to the left. This is the trail described as "off the grid" on this page.

Starting point to rain gauge 29

After the junction it takes another few minutes to reach the forest proper again. The trail keeps climbing. Once it leads down you will hear running water to the right. There are several trails(??) to the right that seem to lead to the water. I checked one of those trails that lead down in a few minutes to a small and very clear stream with drinkable water.

Stream with drinking water

The "path" to stream is not clear defined, so keep a good eye on where you came from (remember the whole walk from the beginning is on a ridge). I didn't check the source of the water as the forest (see above) is very thick but it seems it's an underwater well.

View from rain gauge 28

The main continuing trail is clear but there is a junction further on with paper markers. Ignore it as it ends in burned forest on a cliff. The forest around is lush and you might see some squirrels and wild boar trails (rare though).

Rain Gauge 28

Keep climbing. Further on there's a short descent and often you feel you will arrive at the top soon. You will pass another piece of burned forest and keep climbing on the well defined trail. There is a short second descent which leads to what seems to be a trail to the left leading away. I checked this trail. It leads back in the burned forest and descents steeply to a low cliff and doesn't seem to have a continuation.

Path to Rain Gauge 28

Several times you will think you are close to the top but looks are deceiving. The whole forest trail to rain gauge 29 takes easy 1,5 hours. The way to find out how close you are to rain gauge 29 is to look to your right. The connecting path (blue trail) comes almost over the ridge of the hills to your right side.

Starting point to rain gauge 29Starting point to rain gauge 29

On arrival at rain gauge 29 you have two choices. The trail to your right can lead either to Penang Hill or back to Air Itam. Continue straight, it mostly descents to the connecting trail 5 Way Junction-Tiger Hill. This trail, the Old Ridge Path, is described the opposite way here.

Rain Gauge 29

5 Way Junction is about 40 minutes away with the Air Itam Dam is an additional 45 minutes walk.

Time schedule to expect:

  • Kek Lok Si - start of the forest trail: 40 minutes
  • Start of the forest trail - Rain Gauge 28: 35-40 minutes
  • Rain Gauge 28 - Rain Gauge 29: 70 minutes
  • Rain Gauge 29 - 5 Way Junction: 40 minutes
  • 5 Way Junction - Air Itam Dam: 45-55 minutes (descending)

Schedule is not to be taken exact.

Hiking from Air Itam to Tiger Hill and Penang Hill

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Special Hiking Tours in Penang

Join us on our special hiking tours in Penang. We will bring you around in the jungle of the Botanical Gardens. Our tours include:

  • Botanical Gardens: Lily Pond - Waterfall
  • Moongate - Hikers Resting Spot #5 - Youth Park
  • Trails to Crag Hotel and Penang Hill

Read more and book your hiking tour.

Hiking in Penang around Botanical Gardens

or check the hiking and biking pages

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This is a reasonable popular hiking trail in the hills. The trek takes about 3-4 hours to Tiger Hill and another to Penang Hill.

Hiking to Tiger Hill and Penang Hill

5 Way Junction to Balik Pulau

This is, if you can't find the right trail, a very crazy trail. Take the right trail and it takes 3 hours, the wrong trail takes almost double. Here's the story:

5 Way Junction to Balik Pulau

5 Way Junction to Sungai Pinang

This is a slightly difficult to find. The key in this hike is to follow the main trails and keep going down. It's a scenic trek through cultivated land and secondary rainforest to durian plantations. A great trail!

5 Way Junction to Sungai Pinang

5 way junction to Sungai Pinang

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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.

View to Balik Pulau from the Ngoh Han Temple

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This hike doesn't take too long, about 3.5 to 4 hours but it's seriously challenging. Check out why.

Air Itam Dam Off The Grid