Monday, July 28, 2008

Running routes: Southern Ridges

I wrote a previous post on my initial impressions on running the Southern Ridges.
This is the formal write-up on the running route.

The route starts at the end of Science Park Drive, just beside the Rutherford at Science Park I.

Take the path down to the rear of Normanton Park estate, and enter Kent Ridge Park near the pond.

Run straight in the park, and take the first turn on the left. Follow the path at it slopes up. Eventually, you will arrive at a signpost. Take the steps up to the look-out point.

The steps do not take you directly up to the look-out point, but instead onto Vigilante Drive. Turn left on Vigilante Drive, and run westwards. You should be able to see the Pasir Panjang wharves on your right.

Take the left fork when you meet a junction while running on Vigilante Drive. Follow the path as it slopes downwards. You will reach a path into the woods.

Take the path into the woods until you see a signpost pointing the way to the canopy walk. Here, you have a choice. You can either run straight ahead, taking the steps down to Hortpark. Or you can take a detour onto the canopy walk.

Assuming you take the canopy walk, you should see the nurseries of Hortpark, and the winding path you will eventually take later.

When you exit the canopy walk from its western exit, Reflections at Bukit Chandu should be directly in front of you. Turn right, and you will notice a sign pointing the way to Hortpark. Do NOT turn left as that will take you to Pepys Road and you will leave the Southern Ridges.

Follow the way down to the winding path you saw just now. Along the way, there's a good example of a tree overtaken by a strangler fig.

Keep going until you reach Hortpark proper.

Your goal is to reach the western exit of Hortpark, and you can do so anyway you wish. Run either on the main road past the exhibits in Hortpark, or run on the edge of Hortpark along Canterbury Road and the big old black-and-white bungalows.

Once you exit Hortpark, you will reach Alexandra Bridge.

Get onto the bridge. From here, the way is straightforward along the metal walkway, so I won’t supply instructions. A few things to note:

A durian tree near Alexandra Bridge is a favorite sight among visitors. It’s surprising how many people haven’t seen a real durian tree before.

What looks like an amazing apartment building is visible at one point along the walkway. I wonder how the view is like from the penthouses at the apex of the arch.

The earth trail wends its way beneath the walkway. It is possible to run along the earth trail, although probably not very easy to do so. The trail is steep, and not especially well maintained, and you will probably be gawked at from above. Nobody takes the earth trail though, so you will have lots of space.

Following the metal walkway will bring you to the shoulder of Mount Faber, where you can follow signs pointing the way along Telok Blangah Green to Henderson Waves. Henderson Waves is possibly the most popular place among Singaporeans. Some people have their picnics here.

After Henderson Waves, you will reach Mount Faber Loop. Follow the road upwards, towards the summit of Mount Faber. Eventually, you will reach a small café, and you will see the hordes of tourists that have been bused up to Faber Point for the views.

Take a look at the views from Faber Point and see if you’d like to check it out yourself.

Continue along Mount Faber loop westwards past the Jewel Box and the cable car station.

You will soon reach the Marang Trail. Take the Marang Trail and exit near Harbourfront MRT Station.


The total distance is approximately 9 km.

The route is not easy; rolling hills probably describes it best. You will spend a lot of time climbing up and down slopes.

The steep sections are climbing up to Vigilante Drive from Kent Ridge Park, the earth trail as it goes up to the shoulder of Mount Faber, Mount Faber Loop up to Faber Point, and the Marang Trail if you are ascending Mount Faber from Harbourfront MRT station. The Marang Trail is the real killer: it’s essentially one long staircase truncated at a few points.

Lots of people walk the Southern Ridges between Alexandra Arch and Henderson Waves during the day. Plan your run at quieter times early in the morning if you’re going to use this route. As a consideration to pedestrians, I can’t really say I would recommend this route to runners as it is just too crowded with people, especially on weekends.

Points of road entry and exit along the Southern Ridges are at Science Park I, Vigilante Drive, Alexandra Road, Preston Road, Telok Blangah Green, Mount Faber Loop and Marang Road.

There is one entry point I have not been able to confirm: it’s a staircase at one point along Mount Faber Loop between Faber Point and Henderson Waves. I’ve never taken it, but I believe that it leads to Telok Blangah Way.

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