Activities

Complete Guide To Central Catchment Nature Reserve: All Parks, Hiking Trails & Activities

Central Catchment Nature Reserve guide


We don’t blame you if you hear Central Catchment Nature Reserve and think to yourself “huh, catch what? Pokémon ah?” Not quite; it’s an area that naturally collects rainwater, so you can bet that this place has plenty of flora and fauna around.

It’s a 2,880-hectare area that’s home to multiple reservoirs and nature parks such as Upper Seletar Reservoir Park, Upper and Lower Peirce Reservoir, MacRitchie Reservoir, and Rifle Range and Windsor Park. Phew, that’s a lot of ground to cover. If you’re intrigued explore, here’s a full guide to Central Catchment Nature Reserve:


1. Upper Seletar Reservoir Park – Lone tree & rocket tower landmarks


Nestled at the top right corner of the nature reserve is Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. The quiet space is home to a number of iconic landmarks you might have already spotted on your socials. 

One of these is the renowned “lone tree”, a casuarina tree with a full, round crown that is popular for selfies and wedding photos.

Besides the tree, the other landmark to check out is the Rocket Tower. The observatory has a 6-storey spiral staircase that leads you straight up for a 360-degree view of the reservoir and its surroundings.


Image credit: @zachagrapy via Instagram

As we all know, legal fishing spots in Singapore are a rarity. Luckily for anglers, there are designated fishing spots at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. They can be found along the piers and jetties that extend into the reservoir.

Getting there: Take bus 138 from Ang Mo Kio Interchange and stop at Upp Seletar Reservoir bus stop. If you’re going by car, turn into Mandai Road Track 7 – there’ll be 3 carparks.

Park lighting hours: 7am-7pm, Daily


2. Mandai T15 Trail – Paths for mountain biking or hiking



Image credit: @sliceoftorchginger via Instagram

If you’ve already conquered the 50 best hiking trails in Singapore and want one more, then make the Mandai T15 Trail your next weekend activity. Also known as the Gangsa Trail, this 7.1km path weaves around Mandai Lake, eventually leading to Chestnut Nature Park.


End of the trail at Chestnut Nature Park.
Image credit: @chrisleeyb via Instagram

The path is densely forested which means the chances of you coming across some of Singapore’s native wildlife are high. Regular trekkers have spotted snakes, treetop birds, and even the occasional sambar deer. 


Image credit: @nyet.behind.a.lens via Instagram

With its gentle slopes and clearly-marked paths, the Mandai T15 Trail is worth a visit no matter if you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out. The trails are also wide enough for mountain biking, so get your cyclist friends to come along as well.

Getting there: The easiest entrance is to start at Central Catchment Park Connector, also the junction of Mandai Road and Mandai Lake Road – the road leading to Singapore Zoo.


3. Upper & Lower Peirce Reservoir Park – Picturesque lake views


To the right of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve is the Upper and Lower Pierce Reservoir Park.

The more accessible of the 2 reservoirs is the one at Lower Peirce, which has a 900m-long trail that brings you to various IG-worthy nature spots of the park. Along this easy trail, you’ll bump into wildlife such as squirrels, and monitor lizards, as well as all sorts of trees and plants that make up one of Singapore’s last secondary forests.

Highlights of the trail include the stunning landscape of the reservoir and pavilion you’ll see as you move along the boardwalk. Although the pavilion isn’t accessible to the public, the scenic panorama is a welcome sight to let you catch a break from your hike. It doesn’t hurt to get in a few snaps for the ‘Gram too.


Lower Pierce Reservoir Pavilion.
Image credit: @sky.is.sunny via Instagram

Continue your journey on a 30-minute walk through Old Upper Thomson Road to reach Upper Peirce Reservoir Park. Hike up the park’s hill here to enjoy a cool windy breeze and an unobstructed glimpse of the entire park. 

The reservoir’s dam is also located nearby, providing another pathway for cyclists and joggers to kick off their exercise routine for the day. 

Getting there: Take buses 163, 167, 169, 855 or 980 and alight at the Bef Adana at Thomson bus stop. Walk through Upper Thomson Road to reach the trail entrance of Lower Peirce Reservoir Park. If you’re going by car, there are 2 car parks available.

Park lighting hours: 7am-7pm, Daily


4. Rifle Range Nature Park – Challenging 30m boulder trail


Rifle Range Nature Park may be one of the newer additions to the nature reserve mix, but it’s fast becoming a favourite among outdoor enthusiasts with its many walking trails and quarry wetland.

Exit Beauty World MRT Station and you’ll step foot onto Rambai Boardwalk that will lead you into the park. Apart from the best jungle sights, you’ll learn more about the park’s rich history and heritage through the mini signages dotted along the walkway.

Your walk in the park doesn’t end just yet; you’ll meet with Gliders Boardwalk next. You’ll want to keep a slower pace and a lookout for the random poles and ropes going across this trail. These are actually animal crossings that help wildlife move across the park with minimal human interference – guess we’re not the only ones who need zebra crossings.

Ready your camera next, because the end of Gliders Boardwalk is the Quarry Wetland. Apart from selfies and landscape pics, see if you can capture some of the more uncommon feathery friends here. It’s a bird watcher’s paradise to spot birds like kingfishers and yellow bitterns.

Your last trail within the park is the Colugo Trail. It’s a mere 30m-long but don’t let its short distance fool you; this route is challenging and requires hikers to climb boulders up to its peak. There is a more moderate, slightly longer 50m stairway if you want something “easier”.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll end up at the Colugo Deck, where you’ll be rewarded with the same view of the quarry with Singapore’s skyline peeking from behind the forest. Take a break here and you’re in for some bird watching fun.

Getting there: From Beauty World MRT Station, walk towards Beauty World Centre Level 4 then cross a bridge leading directly into the park. If you’re taking bus 184, 852 or 961, alight at Opp Beauty World Ctr bus stop. Find your way up to the same bridge. 

Park lighting hours: 7am-7pm, Daily


5. Windsor Nature Park – 3 boardwalk trails


Closer to civilisation is Windsor Nature Park near Bright Hill and Upper Thomson MRT stations along the Thomson-East Coast Line.

Right at the entrance to the park is the Hanguana Trail – the shortest of the 3 trails available here, and also the fastest to cover. 5 minutes in and you would’ve already conquered this 350m route. Do slow down and enjoy the trail though; it’ll give you the chance to spot the rare Hanguana Rubinea plant, from which the trail got its name. 

Have fun with the next one – the Squirrel Trail. You’ll be hiking on dirt roads and cobbled pathways, but the trail remains relatively beginner-friendly. Apparently, some freshwater streams flow along the pathway, so be careful when hiking up.


Squirrel Trail and Drongo Trail.

The last trail you can walk at Windsor Nature Park is the Drongo Trail, which is a 150m-long elevated bridgewalk. There’s more nature and wild species to spot here, especially at the wetland located just ahead.

Someone did the math and counted up to 61 different species of dragonflies here. There are also plenty of curious monkeys around looking for scraps of food. Do yourself a favour and keep your snacks hidden in your backpacks if you don’t want the cheeky things jumping onto you.

If you’re an avid adventurer, challenge yourself and hike all the way to MacRitchie TreeTop Walk through the park connector. This narrow 7km route, complete with inclines and declines in its rocky terrain will leave you sweating and panting. 

Getting there: From Bright Hill MRT Station, take a 10-minute walk to the park entrance. You can also take bus no. 132, 163, 165, 166, 167, 855 or 980 and alight at Opp Flame Tree Pk bus stop. If you’re going by car, head towards Venus Drive and then the park’s carpark.

Park lighting hours: 7am-7pm, Daily


6. MacRitchie Reservoir – Explore reservoir by kayak from $12/hour


As Singapore’s largest reservoir, it may be overwhelming planning out things to do at MacRitchie Reservoir. No worries though, we’ve got itineraries planned out.

During your first trip here, you might want to explore this large plot of land on a kayak. You can rent a kayak at Paddle Lodge for as low as $12/hour if you have a 1-star kayaking certificate obtained from a licensed water sports centre in Singapore. If you don’t, there are sit-on-top kayaks available for $15/hour.

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If you’ve never heard of the iconic TreeTop Walk, you must be living under a rock. But for real, the easiest way to explore MacRitchie Reservoir is by walking along this bridge that is suspended 25m above forest grounds. Although it’s a short bridge, its stunning views and fear factor keep hikers coming back. 

The last entry to this bridge is at 4.45pm, so do come earlier to avoid crowds and to enjoy the view. 

 

Among the many trails here, the Chemperai Trail is a 1.5km route skirting around the reservoir. You’ll bump into some interesting forest highlights such as a half-fallen lone tree and bright ixora flowers. There are multiple benches for you to sit down too if you just need a moment to appreciate nature.

If you’re not satisfied with your step count yet, try out more difficult hikes like the MacRitchie Loop and the MacRitchie Nature Trail.

Getting there: From Caldecott MRT Station, take a 10-minute to the park entrance. There are multiple buses that bring you here, just remember to alight at MacRitchie Resvr bus stop. If you’re going by car, enter the park’s carpark via Lornie Road.

Park lighting hours: 7am-7pm, Daily


Explore 6 parks at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve


So, Central Catchment Nature Reserve is quite the catch after all. It’s probably physically impossible to cover the whole nature reserve in just a single visit, but at least you’ll have weekend plans covered for the next couple of months.

For more nature stuff, check out:

Iffah Nabilah Norhisham

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