Set on the border of Pahang and Kelantan, the hike up Gunung Swettenham and back can easily completed in a day and should be included in the itinerary of any hiker or mountain bagger visiting Cameron Highlands.
Sir Frank Swettenham, first Resident General of the Federated Malay States has a street in Singapore, a port in Klang and a pier in Penang named after him, but it’s unlikely he ever climbed the beautiful mountain that bears his name. It’s a shame, as it’s quite a beauty.
At 1961 meters and a starting altitude of approximately 1425 meters, on paper the hike to the peak of Gunung Swettenham doesn’t sound tough. The trail begins around the back of a small orang asli village, whips its way up over the polytunnel farms around Lojing and through misty upper montane forest along the Kelantan-Pahang border.
Rated moderate to hard, the first half undulates gently through mossy forests and bamboo groves and throws just enough obstacles at you (mostly fallen tees and low hanging branches) to keep it interesting. The second half is harder with a few short but steep sections to surmount.
Crucially, you’ll need to pay attention as there are some sudden turns and forks in the path. Just note which ones are sealed off and in the absence of trail markers, where the border stones are. They will lead all he way up to the peak, which you should arrive at between 2 1/2 and 3 1/3 hours after you start out.
8.20am Start hike
8.40am Pass through farm
9.35am Arrive at gully
9.45am Cross log bridge
10am Reach water point
11.10am Start return journey
11.40am Reach waterpoint
12.05pm Cross log bridge
12.15am Descend into gully
1pm Come down slope overlooking the chilli farm
1.15pm Exit trail and enter village
Altitude At 1961 meters, Gunung Swettenham is the 32nd highest mountain in Malaysia.
Time and distance Approximately 6km one way and just under 12km return, the hike should take between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours up, and 2 to 3 hours down amounting to about a 5 to 7 hour round trip.
Rating KL Hiking rates Gunung Swettenham as moderate to hard.
Facilities The small but beautifully landscaped Masjid Long Tan is located across the road from the trailhead. It has parking and clean toilets.
Getting there It’s a 40 minute drive from Tanah Rata/Brinchang to the meet up point. From Tanah Rata, drive north along the 59 through Brinchang, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja. At the T-junction take a right onto 185 until you arrive at the starting point of the hike opposite the Masjid Long Tan mosque.