The HSBC Tree Top walk is an attraction at the Singapore MacRitchie nature reserve. It is essentially a 250m long freestanding suspension bridge located in the heart of the Singapore central catchment area.
With its central location in the catchment area, the Tree top walk is only assessable via internal dirt and gravel trials within the nature reserve and is not wheel-chair assessable. There are a number of entrances into the reserve, the Venus entrance and carpark is the closest and recommended entrance if you are driving too.
If you are traveling there by public transport, only public buses will best serve the region. The service numbers to look out in the vicinity are services 52, 132, 163, 166, 167, 855 and 980. Be sure to alight near the Flame Tree Condominium. It is located at a cross-junction intersection of Upper Thomson Road and Sin Ming Avenue with an ESSO petrol station nearby. The closest MRT will be Marymount (Circle line) which will require you to do a bus transfer North-bound along Upper Thompson road to the Venus drive intersection.
Moreover, there is free parking at the Venus drive carpark, driving there will however require you to do a return trip back to the carpark. This limits your options into exploring the full MacRitchie nature reserve unless you catch a bus along Upper Thompson back to the carpark.
Walking the Terentang trail
The Venus drive entrance will start you off a North-westernly dirt trail running alongside Singapore island country club hitting the Terentang trail. This will get you to the attraction in under a leisurely hour.
Here, you get to see a number of fallen trees and tree logs NParks has left littered around the track. This adds to the rustic feel of the area. Surprisingly most of these fallen trees are still near pristine given how difficult these tropical dense hardwood trees usually take to decompose.
From Terentang trail, you make a north-bound detour up into an uphill climb into the Peirce track. The Tree Top Walk, being situated at one of the highest points of the nature reserve will involve a continuous upward climb to the attraction. It pays to be well dressed in light clothes and walking shoes as it can get rather humid and muddy in the tropical jungle, especially after rain.
Peirce Track and Ranger station
Sights along the Peirce Track will include a variety of plant flora. This route brings you the past the Ranger station, a PUB water purification plant, leading you to one of the steepest part of the entire route. The final uphill climb involves an upward incline of about 30 degrees. It brings you right to the Tree Top Walk eastern broad walk entrance.
Moreover, this eastern entrance is the only entrance to the attraction, which runs in a one-way direction toward the west. The ranger office will greet you short climb down into the forest will. The Tree top walk is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, with a 30 min earlier opening at 8:30am on weekends.
Though the entire nature reserve itself has no closing hours, the entrance to the tree top walk closes at 5pm. So if you are strapped for time, be sure to reach this station before the 5pm closing time. The attraction is closed Mondays, except those falling on public holidays.
On the Bridge
Structurally, the bridge is a meter wide all-metal semi-suspension bridge anchored by two main structural pylons and spans between the two highest points in the nature reserve.
You will be greeted by a number of one-way signs constantly reminding you the one-way only directional traffic on the bridge. The bridge is not exactly wide, but it does allow for some overtaking space on the bridge. On the bridge mid-span, you get full panoramic views of the nature reserve towering above the Central Catchment area.
The walkable span of the bridge is 25 meters above the forest floor. Hence, it just barely clears the canopies of the thick primary forest, literally allowing you to walk above the dense interlining tropical treeline.
A bird eye view
The bird’s eye views on bridge are refreshing, though a number of trees had grown beyond the height of the bridge itself since its construction. There are a variety of bird habitats living around the trees and you can catch a glimpse of Upper Peirce Reservoir in the far northern distance too.
The bridge is rather rigidly mounted, which does not sway when walked on. The bridge floor is laid with thick grated metal mesh, allowing you to see the canopies and occasional forest trail below right through it.
Exiting the Tree Top Walk on the western exit will bring you on a one-way-route trail along the Petaling trail boardwalk. Here you can have close encounters with interesting trees/plants along the trail and native residents such as the Long-tailed Macaque. Just remember to not have any exposed food on you, these monkeys can get rather aggressive with visitors bearing edibles.
Petaling trail boardwalk
You will also encounter a tiny wetland habitat as well as several mangrove features and bridged small streams acting like a rain run-off area. This wetland habitat is home to wildlife such as dragonflies and other aquatic life. The presence of Dragonflies and Dragonfly nymphs in the Nature Reserve does a very good job in keeping my visit mosquito-free too.
After the wetland, you may be able to spot wild durian trees (Durio Singaporensis) in this portion of the trail. Unlike the D24 or XO commercial durians we come to know off, these wild Durians contains very little flesh. This is despite sharing many similar characteristics as the King of Fruits we know of, especially the thorned fruit and tree’s shimmery pale leaf undersides.
The Petailing hut at the end marks the end of the Tree Top walk one way exit trail, bringing you back onto the Sime Track. This connects from the Terentang Trail we detoured off previously. Here, you can choose to head back where you came from by heading east-bound back onto the Terentang Trail (turning left).
This track comprises of a 2.5km return journey walk back past Terantang Hut and the Ranger Station. Eventually, it brings you straight back to Venus Drive entrance and carpark. Therefore, this will be the quickest and preferred route if you drove and parked at the Nature Reserve, or simply just wish to enjoy the Tree Top Walk.
Connecting back via Macritchie Reservoir
If you are more adventurous, you can enjoy the full nature experience with an additional 5km south-bound trek towards Macritchie Park Singapore (about 2 hours additional walk). The total distance of this trek from the Venus Entrance will be approximately 7km, and is not wheelchair accessible. Do expect a combination of trail, gravel and muddy pools of water. Hence, do be appropriately dressed lightly and in sport shoes.
Also, the route will bring you on a nature reserve perimeter walk past landmarks such as the Jelutong Tower. The Tower is a 7 floor observation tower, offering you unimpeded panoramic views of the MacRitchie forest. You will eventually reach the nature reserve boundary along the Singapore island country golf course. This area offers open panoramic views of MacRitchie Reservoir and the surrounding reservoir mangrove habitats from the bankside marsh land trail.
The 5km mark of the trial will bring you back into a sheltered southern forest trail, here you get to decide between the Jering Trail, Lornie Trail or the concrete paved Lornie road into MacRitchie Park. It’s a mater of choosing whether to take a quick forest detour straight to MacRitchie park, or a snaking MacRitchie Broadwalk route along the MacRitchie Reservoir bank edge.
The walk along the Broadwalk is much more lively than the forest walk. This route brings you sights and sounds of native creatures of the forest like the Clouded Monitor Lizard, Common Sun Skink, Plantain Squirrel and and chirping birds like the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Striped Tit-Babbler and Olive-winged Bulbul.
In conclusion, the Tree Top walk is one of Singapore’s truly uniquely nature experiences and sadly one of the last few in the Country. The attraction is good for a full half day nature adventure for the entire family.
Lastly, you can view more photos of the Tree top walk here.