Spots of pristine nature are hard to come by in Singapore, but covering 33 soccer fields in an idyllic corner of Clementi is the lesser-known Maju Forest. Bordered by residential estates, Maju Camp and the Ulu Pandan River, it’s only a third the area of the popular Clementi Forest just to its north, but Maju Forest offers up plenty of landmarks and a storied history of its own.
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The abandoned Jurong Railway Line leaves a visible clearing through Maju Forest, running vertically through the middle. Clementi Road can be seen on the top right.
Image credit: @brice.li.12
Stretching 24KM from Kranji in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south, the Rail Corridor has become something of a national treasure especially for hikers, joggers and cyclists. But while most are familiar with its past life linking Singapore and Malaysia, many might not know that this main line branches off near Bukit Timah Station, heading westward on the Jurong Railway Line.
Novice hikers exploring Maju Forest can keep to the old tracks for a safe and clear path through the thick vegetation
Image credit: @shanexchung
Construction started right before Singapore’s independence in 1963 – the 19KM line built to link our new westerly industrial areas to Malaysia via the main KTM railway line. Cutting through Clementi Forest, the route continues past Maju Forest and Pasir Panjang before reaching the old Mobil refinery on Pioneer road.
From there, branch lines further lead on to the NatSteel factory, Jurong Industrial Estate’s heavy industry section and also to Jurong Port.
An easy way to enter Maju Forest is from the abandoned tracks at Sunset Way
Image credit: GF Hu
Its completion in 1966 happened right after the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. As our two neighbouring countries embarked on different economic routes, the short-lived railway line wasn’t as useful as expected, and Jurong Rail Line was shut in the mid-1990s.
Lorong Guang was a dirt track often used by marching troops, military trucks and even tanks, and its entrance can still be found near the present Maju Camp bus stop.
Image credit: Good Morning Yesterday
Centrally-located along Clementi Road, Maju Camp is an Infantry camp that’s also the go-to spot for NSMen in the west looking to clock in their annual IPPT. But in Singapore’s early days before National Service was introduced in 1967, Maju Camp was home to the People’s Defence Forces (PDF) – a unit made up of volunteers dedicated to protecting our island.
As you walk along the pavement on Clementi Road, you’ll see bollards blocking off the old entrance to Maju Camp. Previously called Lorong Gaung or “ravine lane”, this old dirt road was sealed off for excavation works in the 1960s to construct the railway tunnel passing beneath Clementi Road.
Note: It is not advisable to enter Maju Forest from the old Lorong Gaung entrance as it leads down a very steep ravine.
The steep ravine might even feature a “waterfall” during the monsoon season
Image credit: @baldbrownboy
The gentler slopes behind the bus stop opposite Maju Camp are an easier way to get to the railway tunnel, where you can cross under Clementi Road to enter Maju Forest.
Image credit: Reddit
Well hidden from view from casual passers-by, the railway tunnel leading into Maju Forest is a spot that even longtime residents nearby might not have even heard of. Located beneath Clementi Road, this relic of our recent past has recently been refurbished as part of road-widening works in 2018 – perhaps a hint that the Rail Corridor will be extended westward.
Image credit: @sundolby
Even so, this tunnel has gained popularity in recent years not just as a nature-filled photospot, but also as a pit stop for hikers traversing the rough route from Clementi Forest to Sungei Ulu Pandan.
But for those looking to explore this lesser-known facet of Singapore’s history, you’ll be glad to find one of Singapore’s four remaining steel truss bridges in the vicinity of Maju Forest.
The bridge across Sungei Ulu Pandan is one of the four steel truss bridges remaining in Singapore, characterised by triangular shapes used in the structure.
Image credit: @shanexchung
Spanning across Sungei Ulu Pandan, the bridge is cordoned off for the time being, but you’ll get a good glimpse of this magnificent structure from the Ulu Pandan Park Connector.
For a post-hike treat, the nearby Sunset Way neighbourhood is rife with great food options. Head on over to Torched for a scrumptious Meat Platter for 2 ($49) complete with charred steaks and smoked sausages, or tuck into halal zi char at Yassin Kampung for Kampung Durian Chicken ($20) and Sichuan Mala Fried Crab ($40).
Otherwise, savour some ice cream from the estate’s many spots – pick from Burnt Cones, Daily Scoop or Hundred Acre Creamery located just a stone’s throw from each other.
Image credit: @brice.li.12
For an adventure off the beaten path, Maju Forest offers a swath of nature, complete signs and scenes of Singapore’s history – all easily accessible via public transport.
For those venturing within, you’ll want to come prepared with boots or trekking shoes as the path is often muddy and slippery. A navigational app for hiking (AllTrails for iOS | AllTrails for Android) can also be useful in sussing out unmarked paths and trails along the way for a side adventure, while basic equipment like a first aid kit and compass will keep you safe.
Getting there: Take Bus 74, 154 or 151 from King Albert Park MRT. Alight at Opp Maju Camp, and proceed down the slope behind the bus stop. Enter the railway tunnel, which will lead you into Maju Forest.
Those driving can park at 104 Clementi St 14, before proceeding toward the short rail bridge spanning over Sunset Way. Follow the abandoned tracks northward into Maju Forest.
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