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TreeTop Walk at Macritchie Reservoir hiking trails
Photograph: ShutterstockTreeTop Walk at Macritchie Reservoir

The ultimate guide to MacRitchie Reservoir

Rediscover Singapore's oldest and largest reservoir

Cheryl Sekkappan
Written by
Cheryl Sekkappan
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MacRitchie Reservoir is Singapore's oldest and largest reservoir. Part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, this gem is fringed by some of the last bits of Singapore's primary forest, and the surrounding greenery is home to more endangered species of plants and birds besides. 

That might explain why it is also Singapore's most well-known and popular nature destination. The tranquil waters and rugged forests feel far removed from the bustle of city life, and the wealth of cross-country trails, water activities and family-friendly activities means that there's something for just about everyone. If you're planning to head out this weekend, make MacRitchie Reservoir your destination – and use our handy guide to get the most out of this beautiful reservoir and nature park. 

RECOMMENDED: The best reservoir parks in Singapore and The best intertidal walks in Singapore

The best trails

Prunus-Petai Trail
Photograph: NParks/Facebook

Prunus-Petai Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Take a stroll along the Prunus-Petai trail, a 2km boardwalk close to the entrance of MacRitchie Reservoir Park. You'll be rewarded with beautiful views of the calm forest against the backdrop of dense forest, and close-up sightings of various plants and wildlife, including the Singapore Rhododendron, clouded monitor lizards and orange-bellied squirrels. 

Lornie Trail

Difficulty: Moderate

Can't get enough of the boardwalks? Check out Chemperai and Jering Boardwalk to the west of the park's entrance too. This is part of the Lornie Trail, which forms a loop with the section that runs through the forest. Either start along the boardwalk and return via the forested trail or vice versa. Don't be fooled by Lornie Trail's relatively short length ( 2km one way). This route will challenge you just enough with its hilly terrain. 

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MacRitchie Nature Trail
Photo: Kodomut

MacRitchie Nature Trail

Difficulty: Moderate-Hard

If you've got a few hours to spare, travel deep into the forest on the 10.3km MacRitchie Nature Trail. This is an uphill climb towards Venus Link, so be prepared to work those glutes, hamstrings and quads. This route connects to Terentang Trail and Peirce Track, which will bring you to the crowd-drawing TreeTop Walk for a bird's eye view of the forest canopy. A fitting reward for your hard work. 

MacRitchie Loop

Difficulty: Hard

Got the whole afternoon to spare? Challenge yourself to the full 11km loop around the reservoir, which will bring you through a variety of landscapes – from scenic boardwalks and shady forests to Jelutong Tower and the open track at Golf Link. The journey is estimated to take around four hours – longer if you stop to smell the roses a bit – so pack plenty of water and some snacks (but keep them safe from the monkeys). 

 

Must-see attractions

  • Things to do
  • Central Water Catchment

The TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir takes you through the different stages of mature secondary forest. The bridge part rises as high as 27 metres, giving you a great vantage point to spot as many as 80 bird and reptile varieties, and 18 rare species of trees. Getting to the bridge, and walking it and back is a 10.5km journey, so be sure to wear your best hiking shoes. 

Jelutong Tower
Photograph: NParks

Jelutong Tower

Closed for maintenance until August 31 2021 

If your leg muscles aren't dying yet, scale the 7-deck Jelutong Tower for unbeatable views across the forest of MacRitchie. Hey, you might even spot the massive Jelutong trees piercing through the forest canopy. Bird lovers might want to perch out here too, in hopes of glimpsing their favourite avians in flight. 

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  • Sport and fitness
  • Central Water Catchment

MacRitchie Reservoir’s calm waters allows for another kind of recreational activity: kayaking. Most go for sit-on-top kayaks, either as a double or single, and paddle in the ‘novice zone’. Closed-deck and sprint kayaks can also be rented, the latter of which is only available to those with at least a one-star certification. Be prepared to flex some muscles: paddlers are expected to carry their own canoes from the storage room in Paddle Lodge down to the waters and vice versa after.

Zigzag Bridge
Photograph: URA/Facebook

Zigzag Bridge

The zigzag bridge and bandstand are unique structures in MacRitchie, and were conserved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2009. Although it's zigzag shape is best appreciated from above, you can still have some harmless fun navigating the tight turns of this bridge, or simply take a breather while looking out over the tranquil waters of the reservoir. 

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Submerged Boardwalk
Photograph: Flickr

Submerged Boardwalk

This boardwalk looks perfectly innocuous, but after heavy rains, it becomes partially submerged underwater. It was designed to be this way, so don't hesitate to get your feet wet and go ahead and cross the 40-metre-long walkway. It's conveniently located near the zigzag bridge and bandstand, which are all accessible from the forested Lornie Trail.

Lim Bo Seng Memorial Tomb
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Lim Bo Seng Memorial Tomb

War hero Lim Bo Seng was laid to rest right here in MacRitchie Reservoir Park. A fierce activist in the fight against the Japanese, Lim Bo Seng was captured by Japanese forces and tortured during custody. He never betrayed his fellow soldiers, and eventually died in 1944. He was buried with full military honours at the reservoir. 

Where to fuel up

The Roti Prata House
  • Restaurants
  • Bishan

Nothing like some roti prata to kick off (or end off) a morning's hike. Conveniently located at Upper Thomson Road, The Roti Prata House serves up piping hot prata and teh tarik. There are 80 varieties of prata to choose from, including ice cream, durian, and a sinful bomb cheese kaya prata – but we suggest sticking to the classic coin prata.

Habitat Coffee
  • Restaurants
  • Bishan

Maybe it's a full English breakfast you need instead of the greasy, local alternative. Head to Habitat Coffee then, for all-day breakfast options including eggs Benedict and stuffed berries hotcake. End your meal with a cup of roasted gourmet coffee, or get a bottle of cold-brewed coffee to really cool down. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Bishan

Upper Thomson is no stranger to hipster cafés, but One Man Coffee gives the java scene brewing in the area some serious cred. Besides the excellent coffee, this cosy nook shares the same shophouse space with gourmet pizza bar Crust, so you'll have the option for a full meal paired with your cuppa. For something light, go for the pastries or light brunch bites like brioche French toast ($10) served with homemade berry compote and fresh cream. 

More to explore

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