There’s a trail for everyone at KL’s Bukit Dinding in Taman Setiawangsa: a tarmac and cemented road for joggers, a wide forest trail for downhill bikers and a leafy narrow trail for hikers. I recently went on a walk that gave me a taste of all three.
If you’ve ever driven on the MRR2 between Ampang Jaya and Melawati you may have noticed a single island of green rising from between a sea of high rise apartments and condo buildings. At its apex is are two communication towers. That would be Bukit Dinding, though it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Bukit Setiawangsa. A former coffee plantation turned rubber estate some trees continue to be tapped today, though much of the hill is secondary forest.
The concrete and tarmac road up to Telekom Malaysia’s Micro Station at the peak is a short one, just 2.5 kilometres one way from the Warung Pekaki U-Turn coconut stall at the south end of the hill on Jalan 6/27A. A brisk walk up, should take half an hour.
There with the KL Hiking crew we started our walk on the north side of Bukit Dinding, entering the forest through the gate located at the far end of Surau Au-Jumaat An-Nain’s carpark.
For 20 minutes, we climbed an off road cycling trail diligently maintained by Scarfox Gravity Enduro, a local downhill and enduro mountain biking group. Only 1 kilometre in length and the only shuttle access trail of its kind in the Klang Valley , it starts with having to scramble up a sheer rock face then along a wide clay path of short slopes and flats that feature speed humps and ramps designed to send cyclists airborne. We were warned they would come careening down the hillside later in the morning so caution would need to be exercised then – and absolutely no handphones or earphones to distract us.
As the first section of the cycling trail came to an end we spotted the tarmac road from between the trees. After a break in the trail the second section continues uphill, but that’s where we turned onto the road and headed downhill. Well utilised by the community, our presence was met with a mix of determined runners, walkers and fitness-loving and families.
Just after an electrical post marked CEL46, we re-entered the secondary forest. At the edge of clearing, we briefly stopped to admire the view before skirting around the perimeter down a trail overgrown with dense scrub.
Our narrow footpath descended down a slop, past gnarled rubber trees before culminating in a T-junction. We turned right along a leafy forest trail, ignoring the path to our left through the long grass.
It was gorgeous here, sunlight streaming through the lush canopy, something I hadn’t expected of somewhere so urban. Having said that there were some signs of littering and a considerable amount of noise pollution from the nearby MRR2 and DUKE highways. On top of that we could make out the construction that was taking place just beyond the treeline, yet more high rise buildings creeping ever closer towards the this precious green lung.
We eventually exited on the right of the cemented road, and marched up along it for 10 minutes until at a sharp bend we headed back under the cover of the forest again.
This part of the trail seemed damper in comparison owing to the presence of several small stream beds. Up until then I had assumed that there was probably not much wildlife left on Bukit Dinding, and then I caught sight of a large male macaque as it leapt away from me on the branches above, aggressive despite its retreat.
We came to a crossroads not long after. A wide path of compacted red clay cut clean across our narrow overgrown trail. We took a left down it, first along some rough cement steps, then a furrow, deepened by frequent use. Someone had laid a thin strip of cement along it, presumably for extra traction.
Just as suddenly as we came across this path, we exited it, turning onto a small trail as the one we left descended away from us. This one was even more lush than before, with a stream and large mengkuang plants. Just as the vegetation on either side of our trail opened up, it ended abruptly in a drain that ran perpendicular to it.
We headed right, and at terraced hillslope that faces a housing estate, climbed the stepped drain – but not before stopping to enjoy the view across Ampang-Ulu Klang to the unmistakable quartz ridge of Bukit Tabur.
Where the drain was blocked by brush, we duck back into forest where after a little bit of confusion we reconnected with another foot trail. There were signs of wild boar here, which was reassuring and appropriate so soon after ushering in the lunar new year – the year of the pig.
To our complete surprise we found ourselves back at the top of the bike path we had first come along. This meant that we had completed a loop around Bukit Dinding!
We continued our way up the mountain biking path. Narrower and shorter that the one we had surmounted when we first set out, several cyclists/daredevils were already suited up and patiently awaited for us to pass before hurtling downhill on two wheels and a prayer. Above us, the increasingly shrill sound of the TM micro station suggested we were steps away from the hill’s peak.
We celebrated our triumph with a can of 100 plus, before we made our way back down. I left impressed not just by the number of people we came across using this terrific little patch of tropical forest, or the types of paths available to users of various abilities and interests but by our surroundings. Urban oases such as his may appear small on the map but are of immense value to its community and to existing flora and fauna.
If you live nearby, I highly recommend that you check it out. As new developments begin to sycthe one small slivers of land after the other from the hillside, it’s only in knowing what you have, that you can appreciate what you stand to lose.
8.30am Enter downhill bike trail
8.50am Exit downhill bike trail onto road
9am Turn off road into trail
9.20am Exit trail onto road
9.30am Re-enter trail
9.35am Left at crossroads, 2 minutes later exit right
9.50am End in drain
10.05am Arrive back at downhill bike path
10.15 Make summit
Altitude 285 metres.
Time and distance 2 hours 10 minutes. 6.8 kilometres.
Rating Easy. Both trails and road are suitable for beginner hikers. Come in the morning equipped with Maps or any other navigational app if you plan to use the trails, as there I only covered the trails we used (there were plenty we didn’t use) and it can get confusing.
Facilities None, but there are plenty of petrol stations and eateries nearby. Limited parking at the surau (please dress respectfully if using) and across the road from the coconut stall.
GPS location (entrance to downhill cycling trail at Surau Au-Jumaat An-Nain) 3.198218, 101.748460
GPS location (entrance to tarred and cemented road at Warung Pekaki U-Turn coconut stall) 3.193772, 101.756504