Sri Bintang hike

Sri Bintang epitomises the urban hike. Neither park with paved trail nor forest reserve, this tiny swatch of green  doesn’t even appear on the map – unlike nearby Desa Park City.

Penned in by the North-South highway and carved away by the steady creep of urban sprawl, it’s little more than a ribbon of open grass bordered by a narrow band of forest. But recreational space is precious and it’s been co-opted by nearby residents.

Depending on the combination of routes chosen, this hike can be made short or long, easy or hard. The first of the two hills (which are punctuated by electric pylons) offers views of the city including KL Tower and the Twin Towers, and has a makeshift outdoor gym fashioned from concrete and scrap. The second looks out across Kepong to Batu Caves.

It’s popularity and accessibility to Segambut (or North Kiara as developers are calling it), Kepong and outer Damansara does mean that it has criss crossing trails. This might lead you somewhere you don’t intend on going to but it’s unlikely you’ll get lost, the area is that small and civilisation that near.

The view from the outcrop.

The trail begins on scrubland on Jalan Sri Bintang 8 (also labeled Jalan 11/36). At the junction we took a right and immediately  began climbing. Another junction leads left to a small encampment but we avoided this route and proceeded onwards,  emerging at a rocky outcrop overlooking rows of large bungalows. Discarded glass bottles suggested that it’s a popular spot for shooting the breeze.

We reentered the bush behind the lookout point and exited on a construction site – a high-rise condo already taking shape. Skirting around it, a long stretch of exposed red earth lay ahead, at its top a large barren area. Our challenge was to the right – a double rope climb up two consecutive slopes towards the pylon.

The queue for the climb created a backlog.
The first was easy and can be accomplished without too much reliance on the rope. The second is close to vertical and does need a firm grip and a hand to get you over the top.

At the top we were rewarded with a clear view across Segambut to the city centre. It’s one locals make the climb for at sunrise and sunset.

Kim and Jill sheltering in what little shade there was.
Next target locked in our sights.

There are a few ways to get up to the next hill: right or left down through the last vestiges of jungle; or straight down the middle down a series of stairs.

Our route took us left, through the scrub into the jungle, and down a small slope, where we  discovered that you could bypass the second rope climb by cutting left directly into the jungle. Of course where would be the adventure in that?

From here we ventured right, the trail eventually taking us back out of the jungle before looping back in again. It was such a relief to dive back under the cool canopy. Although still early, the sun was fiercely beating down on us already.

Steps quickly led us down the side of the hill before looping back up past a rest area with long logs as benches and a makeshift platform/tree house.

We took a short breather, before proceeding to upwards until a T-junction. There we pulled a left, the path leading us down towards a drain that runs parallel with the highway.

I’m reminded of what many kids of my generation used to do to amuse themselves before the advent of cable and internet TV or video games – “main longkang”, which is Malay for “play in the drains”. Such simpler times then….

The drain system was fortunately  dry and devoid of pools of water on our visit, but it was steep and slippery, and we hung onto the railing as it led us towards the sounds of passing vehicles. Occasionally we’d walk alongside the drain until finally we came to the perimeter fence. Beyond it cars and trucks whizzed by. We ducked under awkwardly, then headed right, along the grass.

Where the motorway bridge began, we dived back into the drain and descended halfway down the slope before cutting right back onto the trail and then into the tangle of brush on the opposite side of the hill to the one we came down.

More scrub than forest, I was surprised to emerge at a tarmac road. We followed it as it wound up to the gates of water reservoir, its security fence decorated with brightly coloured ribbon, similar to lovers’ bridges heavy with padlocks.

We re-entered the undergrowth, dipping  under wild banana plants and brushing past ferns until we stood at the bottom of the grassy hill.

10 meters from the top a rope presented itself and I grabbed it and pulled myself up. Some KL Hikers had gathered at the clearing on the left of the pylon to grab a drink and take in the view – one of gated developments, with the limestone hills of Batu Caves outlined in the background.

Was nice to be joined by my friend Sue. Last time we hiked together was at Setia Alam at the beginning of the year.
Khairul with the North-South Highway to his back.
The final heave-ho up the grassy verge, the electric pylon towering over us.
Barbed wire and fake flowers.
Luxury homes, offices and school sheltered in the valley by the embrace of the surrounding hills.
The area’s original citizens.

The only shade was under a short but leafy tree. We huddled under it wiping sweat off our brows. Ahead of us leaves rustled. Lured by the plant’s big yellow flowers, a monkey had quietly emerged and plucked off one golden petal after another chewing on each as it went. The other hung further back, but both were surprisingly non-confrontational for creatures who had very little natural environment left to forage on. I can only hope that their human neighbours have the foresight to fight to keep this forest, if they want to avoid a future of marauding monkeys.

We sized up the next leg of the journey – down through the grass, alongside the tall metal fence that guards the million dollar properties beyond it, to the foot of our final hill, the first one we came to at the beginning of the day. Once there, instead of taking the stairs we cut to the left into the jungle.

A mix of forest and rubber trees, the trail leads up then branches off in several directions including towards the makeshift gym. Our path was through the middle, and instead we came up and over the hill’s flank, eventually arriving at a set of stairs that signalled the end of our hike was near. From here, it was just a straight route back to the trailhead and the car.

Altitude Around 150 meters.

Time and distance Between 1 1/2 and 2 hours. Depending on the route between 3km and 5km.

Rating Easy to moderate. Although a relatively short hike, the twin hills of Sri Bintang can be fierce and depending on how you pick and mix your route can be made easier or more difficult.

Facilities There’s a small number of parking spaces next to Pusat Rekreasi Taman Sri Bintang on Jalan 4/36, or you can park along the left of this road. There are no toilets but it is possible to use the lavatories at the food court in the row of shophouses nearby.

Tip Unless you’re under the shade of the forest canopy, you’ll be exposed to the elements. That includes rain and sun so come prepared with sunblock and/or rain jacket and take proper precautions if there’s a thunderstorm brewing as the risk of a lightning strike is high here.

Coordinates 3.185233, 101.643221. The trailhead is located on Jalan Sri Bintang 8 aka Jalan 11/36.

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