9 unexpected places for hiking and trails in Singapore

As products of a digital society, you’ve probably been told to ‘go touch some grass’ at some point in your life. And maybe you should because there are actually a lot of great nature spots to check out in Singapore.

Forget the usual hiking spots that get crowded. Here are some alternative trails that take you to different worlds.

Photo: Delfina Utomo
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Dover Forest

Sometimes you don’t have to look far for the best trails. They might just be right there in the neighborhood – next to the MRT station for example. Dover Forest is a unique secondary forest in Clementi – and there are two sections: Dover Forest East and Dover Forest West. Though just a few meters away from Dover MRT station, expect to trek through thick vegetation, heritage trees and even a stream. Because there isn’t a clear entrance or proper trails in the forest, it’s well advised to go on a guided tour. Best to check out this not-so-hidden gem before Dover Forest East is cleared in the near future to be used for building HDB flats.

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The best way to enter Dover Forest East is through Ghim Moh Link, and to enter Dover Forest West, follow the walkway when you exit Dover Station and walk through the field on your left. 

Photo: Delfina Utomo
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Tampines Eco Green

Tampines might be a very dense neighbourhood but this mature estate holds some (green) gems too. Just meters away from a major road and residential blocks is the lush Tampines Eco Green. The hidden park has several rustic trails surrounding a mini marsh and also spots – made from reclaimed timber and old wood – where people can quietly and discreetly birdwatch.

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Tampines Ave 9, Singapore 520491

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Rifle Range Nature Park

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The newly opened Rifle Range Nature Park is another to add to the pretty parks list. Part of the Central Nature Park Network, the park serves as one of the…

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Photo: Delfina Utomo
Photo: Delfina Utomo

The Lost Ark

The dreamy-sounding Alexandra Woodland might sound like something out of storybooks but somewhere tucked on the side of the Green Corridor near Hang Jebat Mosque, is a plot of unprotected and almost untouched land with overgrown vegetation and a natural pond. One of the highlights of trekking in this area is the mysterious ‘Lost Ark’ structure made with fallen trees in the area. There’s a deck which faces the pond where you can stop for a quick thermos coffee break. Not a lot is known about the history of this place but judging from the small estates surrounding the woodlands which are full of colonial-era black and white houses, the clearing was probably a rustic recreational garden or park, similar to the ones in England during the time.

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Find a manmade dirt path next to the Green Corridor near Hang Jebat Mosque and follow the trail

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Photo: NParks
Photo: NParks

Windsor Nature Park 

Everyone goes to MacRitchie Reservoir for its views and diverse trails – which is also why it’s one of the most crowded places on weekends. If you don’t fancy your jungle walk to be disrupted by a bunch of young adults discussing how to do a proposal (true story), check out one of MacRitchie’s “side” parks, Windsor Nature Park. With streams, an eco pond and several trails where you can catch a glimpse of birds and other wildlife, you can still get your hiking fix without all the extra noise.

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30 Venus Drive, Singapore 573858

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Photo: Delfina Utomo
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Hampstead Wetlands Park

Another result of the colonial hangover are names of streets and things named after actual places in England. Well, this place in Seletar is one of them. Though it’s been revamped quite recently, the park still retains a bit of its rustic charms. A dedicated trail takes you into the mini woods before you view the pond. There’s an observation deck on the boardwalk where you take a closer look at the pond and even spot some birds in the area.

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1 Baker Street, Singapore 799977

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Photo: Delfina Utomo
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Keppel Hill Reservoir 

There’s a lot of history that surrounds this spot that it should be something everyone visits at least once while in Singapore. The start of the trail is a spectacle in itself. Start at the Seah Im Carpark near the food centre to check out an abandoned WWII bunker before climbing up the steep slope next to it for the second highlight. Don’t worry, there are ropes for you to hold on to as you make your way up. Keppel Hill Reservoir is located just around the corner from where you climb up. Formerly used as a source of water, and then later as a private swimming pool, the reservoir today has probably seen better days. But it’s still a sight to see, hidden for years and unmarked on most maps.

FIND IT:

Start from the carpark at 2 Seah Im Road, Singapore 099114.

Photo: Delfina Utomo
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Seng Chew Quarry

You’d never think you’ll find a lake with magical water, but there’s one right in Bukit Gombak. This disused quarry was a product of Singapore’s quarrying days which ceased by the 90s. Over the years, it’s been filled with rainwater and just sitting there casually behind some residential flats. To get there you just have to take a short walk from Bukit Gombak MRT to Block 383 and climb up the slopes facing the block. Follow the longkang and it will lead you to the quarry. You’ll be surprised at the size of it – it’s much bigger than Keppel Hill Reservoir. In the past, the water of the quarry is said to bring luck so taxi drivers would park near the drainage to wash their cars with the water.

FIND IT:

Start from Bukit Gombak MRT and walk through Bukit Batok West Ave 5 until you reach Block 383.

Photo: Delfina Utomo
Photo: Delfina Utomo

Yunnan Garden

Universities are hardly the place you’d think of going for a hike but planted within Nanyang Technological Univesity (NTU) is a beautifully manicured park inspired by classical Chinese gardens. There are gazebos, mini ponds, rock sculptures, and even a man-made lake, but the main highlight of the park is the picturesque waterfall feature.

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1 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637721

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