I had no idea what to expect when I met Eric and The Star news crew at Kota Damansara Community Forest. But in the course of shooting a short video about hiking for beginners (in which I play a small part) we managed to navigate KDCF’s new Denai Tiga Puteri trail. Win!
For all the human development that has been responsible for the diminishing size of what was once 3900 acres of protected primary forest, what remains of the now secondary forest owes its existence to people power.
Were it not for a civil campaign launched by passionate nature lovers and far sighted community members of Kota Damansara and surrounding neighbourhoods, Kota Damansara Community Forest might have become another housing estate.
Instead it is so much more than a green lung or an escape from the concrete jungle. Managed by the KDCF Society and the Selangor Forestry Department, KDCF has become a shining example of civil society and government cooperation and a benchmark for community-managed parks.
Originally built by volunteers and the indigenous Temuan of Sungai Buloh and Bukit Lanjan, its 13+ kilometer of trails are incredibly well maintained (and presently funded by a successful crowdsourcing campaign) and some of the trees have been labelled for those interested in botany. It’s also reasonably signposted although it can be hard to discern where one trail ends and another begins.
Of its seven trails – Petaling, Scout, Temuan, Sahabat, Unity, Harmoni and Tiga Puteri, the latter is the Forest’s latest addition, opened in October 2015 and named in honour of a sponsor’s three daughters.
I’ve visited KDCF on two other occasions and always entered via Denai Harmoni (denai is the Malay word for trail). A great introduction to the Forest’s 321.7 hectares, Harmoni starts out flat and gently climbs its way towards a large clearing. At this point our group went off the beaten trail, but the route we took meets up further along Harmoni anyway.
About 30 minutes after setting out, we arrived at Wakaf Salam, a small clearing with a set of picnic tables and benches and a gazebo under which to shelter. It’s a great place to sit down and rest, stop for a picnic or shelter from the rain.
Pushing on we soon found ourselves on Denai Unity, and within 20 minutes had come to its intersection with Denai Tiga Puteri.
Up until this point, the route is accessible to walkers, hikers and mountainbikers. However Denai Tiga Puteri’s 1.5 kilometres of obstacles is off limits to bicycles. There’s a gargantuan log to surmount, low overhangs to duck under and the last 500 meters is a section of steep steps and ladders.
It’s not a long diversion – 20 to 30 minute in one direction – but compared with the trails before it, Denai Tiga Puteri is a tougher proposition.
Close to the summit the route forks. Unity peak is the trail’s highest point but is somewhat anti-climatic – a flat but forested area surrounded by a spiralling drain system. I followed a short cut along a fence to arrive there.
The others continued right to Denai Tiga Puteri’s lookout point. It was breezy here and we sat under a tree to watch passing traffic on the North-South (E1) highway until we had gained our strength for the return journey.
Altitude Unity Peak and the conclusion of Denai Tiga Puteri is set on a low elevation hill. I’d hazard a guess of around 150 to 200 meters high at best.
Distance and time The Harmoni to Denai Tiga Puteri trail by way of Unity is approximately 4 kilometres one way and should take 1 1/2 hours to traverse (or 30 minutes-20 minutes-30 minutes when broken down into sections).
Rating Easy. The Harmoni and Unity trails make for a pleasant walk with some minor inclines to surmount. Denai Tiga Puteri is more of a challenge if you’re prepared to push a little harder, but is suitable for beginners.
Getting there The entrance to Denai Harmoni is located opposite the entrance to Kota Damansara’s Taman Rimba Riang park where Jalan Mahogani and Jalan Rimba Riang 9/1 meet.
Facilities There are parking facilities and toilets located at Taman Rimba Riang’s entrance.
Click here for more information on Kota Damansara Community Forest (KDFC). You can view its trails here, although Denai Tiga Puteri has yet to be added. Latest updates are available through KDFC’s Facebook page.