Get a sense of the jungle and visit the MacRitchie Reservoir in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the early morning. This loop hike over boardwalks and on gravel paths over forest-covered hills is excellent for spotting exciting wildlife, from monitor lizards and turtles to flying lemurs and stingrays.
MacRitchie Reservoir Trail Map
Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.
Tips for MacRitchie Reservoir Hike
- This hike goes through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
- MacRitchie Reservoir Park is at the southern-eastern end of the reserve.
- The nature reserve is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
- There is shade from the trees for a large part of the hike, but some sections are open and sunny.
- Bring a sun hat, sunscreen and plenty of water along.
- The main path around the reservoir is unpaved so choose appropriate shoes.
- Navigation offline maps app Maps.me works quite well but not all trails on the map are open in reality.
The MacRitchie Reservoir Hike is very popular on the weekends, especially in the mornings as everybody tries to avoid the heat. If you want a more peaceful walking experience, either go on a weekday or at the weekends but in the later afternoon. However, even if it is busy you can still see a lot of wildlife (if you like wildlife, check out the Singapore Zoo*).
From the bus stop, make your way over to the park and the reservoir. Here you’ll have a choice between a boardwalk along the edge of the artificial lake or on the main gravel path. It’s best to take the boardwalk, since later on in the hike there are fewer opportunities to see MacRitchie Reservoir as the trail ventures away from it.
Prunus & Petai Boardwalk
If you start early, you might still see a beautiful mist hanging above parts of the lake. There are many nice views of the MacRitchie Reservoir from the boardwalks and you’ll definitely have interesting animal sightings.
There are some very large fish in the surprisingly clear water, as well as big monitor lizards and smaller tortoises. On the boardwalk itself and in the nearby trees you can often find macaque monkeys literally hanging out.
See Wildlife up Close with Binoculars
To see all the nice animals on this hike up close, get a decent pair of binoculars. I have had a pair of Bresser binoculars* for over 20 years now and they are pretty indestructible and work well. Another well-reviewed pair on Amazon are these Celestrons:
Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars on Amazon*.
Check out the complete list of hiking gear needed for Singapore:
MacRitchie Nature Trail
After just over two kilometres, the Prunus and Petai Boardwalks end and you find yourself on the MacRitchie Nature Trail, the main gravel path around the reservoir through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. This path goes through the jungle, so there aren’t many views but there is a bit of climb up and down the hills.
You end up at an entrance from where you can go to Windsor Park. We turned left, down a flight of stairs to continue on the MacRitchie Nature Trail. This brings you to a broad carless road and a drinking water reservoir, where you have a choice to follow the road or take the short Terentang trail. The road is often busy, but it depends on exactly when you’re there.
The road turns into a path later on and not much further you are on the Sime Track.
The Sime Track is again a gravel path in the jungle with not a lot of views or noteworthy things, apart from a lookout tower. The five floors of the Jelutong Tower give you a changing view of the trees, from the bottom to the tree tops. You can see a bit further away from the top platform, although no great 360-degree views of Singapore.
Keep your eyes open on the boardwalk that starts a bit after the Jelutong Tower. We were lucky enough to see a flying lemur on this part of the trail, hanging onto a tree trunk.
The Sime Track ends up at the Golf Link, a path along Singapore Island Country Club Golf Course. Here, views of the MacRitchie Reservoir start to appear again and shade is not plentiful anymore. There are quite nice grassy sections leading to the edge of the lake. Look out for the waterbirds, including herons, standing still among the reeds.
With the trail being quite busy and the golf course largely empty, you do wonder about the division of land. They could have set aside a bit more than a sliver of land on the edge of the golf course. In other sections of the reserve, opening up a few more paths could also reduce the pressure off the main trail.
Jering & Chemperai Boardwalk
The Golf link ends up at another set of boardwalks. The Jering and Chemparai boardwalks really skirt the side of the reservoir and sometimes hover above it. This gives you a really good vantage point for spotting life in the water. You can see a few stingrays, many fish, and turtles such as the large Asiatic Softshell Turtle with its distinctive white nose.
These boardwalks are rather pleasant with great views of the reservoir. Alternatively, you could have taken the Lornie Trail through the forest, but I wouldn’t opt for that.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park
The last section of the MacRitchie Reservoir hike takes you through the actual MacRitchie Reservoir Park. The paths become paved and there is more of a park than jungle vibe here, with nice flowers, big trees and open grassy sections. To get back to the start, you cross a big dam creating the reservoir.
On the other side of the dam is a section dedicated to fishing and also a kayak/canoe rental and launching place. Not much further, you’re back at the starting point of the MacRitchie Hike, from where you can take a bus back home.
Guidebooks to explore more of Singapore
FAQs: MacRitchie Reservoir Hike
The park is part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve which is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
The Central Catchment Nature Reserve is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
No pets are allowed in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.