Penang National Park Trails

Exploring Penang National Park Trails by foot

Most trails start off from Teluk Bahang. From the bridge just after the fishing village, you can turn left to go straight to Pantai Kerachut, or right to Sungai Tukun, Teluk Aling and Muka Head. Many Penang National Park trails are sited on the hilly terrain at height of more then 75 meters where gradients exceed 18 degrees.

Challenging and interesting, these trails offer visitors an opportunity to view a wide biodiversity of flora and fauna.

Before you embark on your hiking adventure, do remember to wear comfortable clothing - preferably loose cotton T-shirt and long pants. Also a pair of good walking shoes can make a difference between an enjoyable and painful trek.

My favourite hiking footwear are rubber flip-flops because they allow you to easily and quickly wade across streams and pools
of water. Bring lots of drinking water and food. A torchlight may be essential. Optional items include insect repellent, swimwear, towel and soap. If you're a keen bird watcher, bring along a pair of binoculars.

Although we locals take it for granted, some tourists are not aware that twilight does not exist in Penang! Evening quickly turns to night, without that lengthy period (known as twilight, or l'heure bleu) when the environment is dimmed but not dark. It is therefore not advisable to start your hike in the late afternoon (after 5pm), unless you relish the thought of hiking back in starlight.

Below are four major Penang National park trails for you to choose from, each with its unique attractions.

1. Teluk Bahang to Muka Head (distance: 2.5km)
One of the most popular trails at the Park has to be from Teluk Bahang to Teluk Duyong and on to the Muka Head lighthouse. This is a nice walking trail with cemented bridges over small ravines and is about an hour's walk from the Park's entrance at the Teluk Bahang fishing village. It usually takes 30-40 minutes to reach Teluk Duyong from Teluk Aling. CEMACS is situated on a sandy beach at Teluk Aling. Teluk Duyung is a beautiful bay protected by Muka Head's cape. Teluk Duyung is also known as Monkey Beach as it is frequented by Long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis). At Teluk Duyong, the entrance to the lighthouse is visible at the end of
the beach. To reach it, climb the long flight of steep steps to reach to the top (about 1.2km). The panoramic view of the sea as well as Pulau Songsong and Gunung Jerai at the top is indeed rewarding.

2. Muka Head to Teluk Ketapang (distance: 1.2km)
Teluk Ketapang is a small sandy cove just past the Muka Head lighthouse. It is accessible from Teluk Duyung. At Teluk Ketapang, keep an eye out for the sea almond tree, locally known as pokok ketapang. For those who are unfamiliar with this trail, hire a guide, and bring a map. Beware though, this trail is very strenuous and some parts require some maneuvering over and around thick growths of jungle ferns.

3. Teluk Bahang to Pantai Kerachut (distance: 3km)
There are a number of ways to reach Pantai Kerachut. This Penang National Park trails is the shortest. Use the common trail from Teluk Bahang to Pasir Pandak, and branch off from the coast at the first suspension bridge heading for Pantai Kerachut. This path could take about two hours. You will cross a stream and pass a track that leads down towards Sungai Tukun. The last part of the trail makes a steep descent into Pantai Kerachut valley. You have to wade across a stream to reach the beach.

Pantai Kerachut has a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach, popular for picnics and camping. The meromictic lake is also located in Pantai Kerachut. This sandy stretch is also the nesting place of the Green Turtles from April to August, and the Olive-Ridley from September to February. The turtle hatchery was set up in Pantai Kerachut in 1995. Take care not to disturb the turtle nesting grounds. Let's save the turtles.

4. Teluk Bahang to Teluk Kampi (distance: 7km)
Follow the above trail (No. 3) from Teluk Bahang to Pantai Kerachut. At Pantai Kerachut, walk towards the far end of the beach where you will pass the jetty and the turtle hatchery site. Take the ascending path that will lead you straight to the top of the hill. You will need to maneuver around huge boulders, and the trail can be exhausting. But the great view of the Pantai Kerachut coastline from the top makes it worthwhile. This is a good place to rest and enjoy the beautiful vista.

After your break, continue your journey and make a steep descent towards the sea. Enjoy the sea view when you reach the coast after about half an hour or so.

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