If anyone want to ride a single track, I would say go to Sungai Ara in Penang. It has so many trails there that sometimes you can lose your way but not completely lost. The reason is because it is not a jungle but fruits orchards. Most of these trails are cemented for 1 reason; it is for the farmers to bring down their produces to the city. Some of these trails are quite bad maintenance but you are on MTB. That’s what it is built for. I would say 75% here are cemented and about 25% that is pure off roads.
Trails in Penang are mainly going uphill and hardly any rolling. So, you got to have some physical fitness before conquering these hills. Some of these trails are interconnected with other hills and you can pretty much go to whole Penang by staying in these trials. 1 thing you need to be aware of is dogs. Since these are the orchard farms, the owner normally have a lot of dogs to guard the place. Not to worry so much though as some these dogs will let you past by but if you see a pack of dogs it is good to avoid them.
Trails that I am going to write today are moderate hard. If you are to put that in no. from 1-10, I would give it a 6.5. Carpet Trail is very famous among cyclists. This is a place every cyclists will take a rest before proceeding with their other destination. Or they will just sit down there and chitchat. This place is safe to cycle alone as there are many cyclists going around in case you need an assistance.
As said, all the trails are interlinked together, so there are many ways to get there. Normally, people will get in thru Jalan Kenari or known as Indian Temple (or some call MPPP in Strava). The other famous route is thru Jalan Fettes (not the one in Tanjung Tokong) or it is also known as Cherrie Blossom entrance.
I took the Indian Temple trail the other day to start off with an easier trail for the week. Below is the map and the pictures showing how to get there. All the pictures below will show you the direction how to get from Point A to Point B. If I didn’t specify anything means just go straight until you see a junction which I have clearly stated in the pictures below.
This is the start of the trail and it is just next to a Indian Temple which you cannot miss.
The beginning of the trail is an easy ride for ~2km. Just watch out for motorbikes and speeding cyclist. Just stay left and you should be fine. When you hit a junction, follow the red arrow that I highlighted below.
After that you will see a hut with benches written the word MPPP and you can guess where they get the MPPP Trails coming from. But, don’t go straight!!! Instead take the path on the right to Rubber Trail.
Then you will see another smaller entry.
*Updated Pic – recently I had a ride in Sg Ara and I found out that the trail has been changed as they have widen the path. So, this is an updated pic for you all.
So, why is it call Rubber Trail? The picture below explains it. Both side of the trails are plant with rubber trees. This part of the trail can tend to be slippery during the monsoon season as it covers with moss.
As you exit from the Rubber Trail, turning left here will lead you to Farmer’s Trail and going straight down is Zig Zag. I will write about it next time.
For those of you who wants to do an additional distance you can opt for right turn (or red arrow). If not, just follow the yellow arrow which will lead you to a same place later. By turning right, it is just making a loop around the orchard but gives you a nice view of Penang. And, this part of the trail is partially off road and cemented. So far no one has name this trail officially. Some call it Chicken Trail (because it has some poultry at the trail) and I call it Bird House Loop as it will lead to a swiftlet house farming.
Just stay on the trail until you hit this junction. This is almost at the peak of this trail and after this is just going downhill (note: I used yellow color just for easy viewing)
Ta-da… Both trails will eventually meet up again. Remember the yellow arrow that I mentioned in Picture 1 and the swiftlet house. This is the house where they farm the swiftlet bird’s nest. The Chinese believes the bird’s nest is good for the lung and smoothen the body skin.
OK, back to the Farmer’s Trail. Not long after coming down from the Bird House Loop you will hit another junction. Just follow the arrow and it will lead you to a farm (picture on the right). That was why they name this trail Farmer’s Trail. Just follow this way until you hit a tar road and just turn left and going uphill.
By this time your energy may drop to half and you have an option to cut short to reach carpet or do another loop. If you are opt for more, than you should take the picture on the (below) left for another km more. Just take note of the rock wall and turn in. If you are pretty much done, then just follow the tar road and it will lead you to Carpet.
Alright, for those of you who wants more, then just follow this path. These are the pictures I have taken on every junction. Just follow this and it shall lead you back to the main road.
After taking this path, it is just downhill only.
At a point you will need to do more decision making. You can continue going downhill on the cemented track or going off road. It is a very short off road and not a difficult trail too. The path is so big that you can move a truck there. Below are some pics of it.
Eventually, it will lead you back to this main road going Carpet.
Just another 1 or 2 km more, you will reach Carpet. Basically, it is just 1 flat land at top of a hill.
You can backtrack where you come from (minus all the additional loops) or you can ask anyone at Carpet how to get back thru Reverse Carpet. Another alternative is going back thru the tar road which I can almost guarantee you that you will not get lost. If you are using the tar road, just going down straight and no turnings. If you happen to pedal uphill again, means you are in the wrong direction.
This is just a small portion of Carpet Trails and I shall write more next time.