In 2012, Hafiza, Khairul and I drove up Fraser’s Hill and joined the KL Hiking Meetup group for a hike along its numerous trails. In one afternoon we traversed the Maxwell, Bishop, Hemmant, Abu Suradi and Mager trails but the longest, Pine Tree Trail, remained elusive. The rumour that a leopard had been spotted on the trail only captured my imagination further.
And so it was that I found myself with Khairul at the Pine Tree Trail head at 8.30am along with 50 other KL and Singapore hikers.
Having done a little digging I was both exited and apprehensive about the hike. The longest and most challenging trail on Fraser’s Hill, many had described it as arduous and long. However, having now bagged it, I can safely say it rates easier than Bukit Kutu, Gunung Datuk or Gunung Nuang from either side.
For a start Pine Tree Trail begins with a gentle downhill rather than the usual uphill, and when it does go up, approximately one hour into the hike, the ascents are brief and interspersed with long flats.
There are the occasional tree trunks and branches to climb under and over but the trail is well maintained, immaculately clean and the path very clear, so chances of getting lost are slim.
Interestingly the trail follows the border of Selangor and Pahang. Other points of curiosity include the tree root hideout and a water source about 1 1/2 hours into the hike. The sign marking the direction to the water source suggest its not safe for consumption, probably due to the current fear of leptospirosis contamination, a sometimes fatal disease typically linked to rat urine.
From the water source, Pine Tree Hill peak is approximately an hour away.
You’ll know when you’re at the base of the peak because you’ll come to a rather formidable slope. Apparently there are also a lot of pine trees here but I didn’t notice. Perhaps I was excited at the prospect of getting over the near vertical climb.
In reality it is a lot easier than it looks. The best way to conquer it is to consider it one step at a time, focusing on your foot and hand holds. The ropes should only be used as extra support rather than relied upon, as doing so would actually tire you out faster. Same story on the way down.
With the challenge overcome Khairul and I reached the top of Pine Tree Hill, 1448m above sea level.
From here you can access the second peak, Twin Peak or Rhodo Hill as it’s also known (perhaps after the rhododendron bushes). Approximately 20 minutes to an hour away, this is where you’ll want to assess your progress and decide whether you should proceed.
The going is relatively easy but it does start by navigating what looks to be a stream bed, so inclement weather should be a consideration.
20 minutes later we arrived at Twin Peak (aka Rhodo Hill) 1505m above sea level. State boundaries cut clean through this area and as vegetation is quite squat, under clear skies you can take in a 270 degree view of the surrounding green slopes – Pahang to your right, Selangor to your left.
Invigorated by our achievement Khairul and I ran much of the flats on the return to cut down on time as I was worried about how much the series of stairs (previously all down, now all up) would slow us down. The hardest part of the trail, I can appreciate why it is favoured by those training to climb Gunung Kinabalu.
Fortunately the stairs are at the tail end of our journey and we exited at 2pm thrilled to have bagged 2 mountains and one very beautiful trail.
Altitude Pine Tree Peak, 1448m; Twin or Rhodo Peak, 1505m. The Pine Tree trailhead starts very high up on Fraser’s Hill, so absolute altitude gain is a meagre 200 and 250m only. However when you factor in all the ups and downs the total ascent is an impressive 2km.
Distance and time 11km. It took us a total of 5 1/2 hours round trip, 3 hours up, 2 1/2 hours down but it’s best to budget between 6 to 8 hours to account for varying levels of fitness and unfavourable weather conditions. It can get very muddy and slippery in the rain.
Rating KL Hiking rates the Pine Tree and Twin Peak trails as moderate to hard although I’d peg it around moderate. The vertical climb up and down near the Pine Tree peak is a mental challenge rather than physically tough. The hard part is the numerous stairs on the return journey but at least you know you’re on your way back.
1. Weather We were lucky with the dry conditions. It can get wet here and rains everyday so pack a raincoat and wet bag and check conditions prior to your hike. The hike to Twin Peak from Pine Tree Peak traverses a stream bed so if there’s a downpour you may want to pass on the second peak.
2. Travel Many KL hikers made the 3 hour trip to Fraser’s Hill from KL on the day of the climb, but I’d recommending driving up the day before and spending the night. Fraser’s Hill is a lovely destination – relatively unspoilt, quiet and laid back, so you’ll get enough rest ready for the next morning’s challenge.
3. Time Start out early. Mornings are gloriously brisk, fresh cool air often with a lovely breeze but Fraser’s like many of Malaysia’s hill retreats can get hot in the afternoons. We started at 8.30am but if you can, start immediately after sunrise.
Post-hike reward Nothing beats tea and scones with Devonshire cream at The Smokehouse for motivation. Starts at 3pm, ends at 6pm and is RM22 per pax not including tax and tax and service charge.
Getting there My preferred route is to exit the North-South Highway (E1) at Bukit Beruntung (Exit 118) and follow the road signs through various small townships and housing estates to Kuala Kubu Baru before heading up to Fraser’s Hill via the Gap on route 55. From here you can proceed directly up route 56 to Fraser’s Hill as it is one way and since the new route down (148) opened, is accessible 24 hours a day.
After the clock tower take a left past Puncak Inn and Scott’s Tarvern and head up past the mosque. At the roundabout take the first left past the eateries. The junction ahead has 1 road to the left leading up towards Allan’s Water and 2 to the right. Take the upper right and head all the way to the end. Parking is very limited so if you are driving convoy you may want to consider parking at the food area and walking up.