Overview of trekking in the Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Highlands has a reputation for being one of the top trekking destinations in Malaysia, with a network of 14 well known trails surrounding the main town of Tanah Rata. Despite this reputation, we found it challenging to find information about certain trails such as estimated time to complete, elevation gain, etc. Also, many of the paths were closed due to construction or advised against due to multiple robberies on certain trails.
Guides are not required to trek many of the 14 trails in the Cameron Highlands. However, signage is limited to non existent on certain trails and it can be easy to get lost. There have also been accounts of robbery on the trails as well. Because of this, you should let the hostel owner know what trail you are taking, what time you are leaving at, and the time you expect to return. I also would advise against trekking alone, especially on the less popular trails, as we didn’t encounter many other hikers.
Did you know? The trail network of the Cameron Highlands was originally used by the military in the 1960’s in order to patrol the borders of the state against Communist forces.
If you have any additional information about the trails that you know of or would like to add, please comment below so I can update the guide. An additional helpful (although a bit outdated) resource for helping to plan your trekking can be found here. As well, this Wikitravel Guide also has some good information on trekking the Cameron Highlands.
How to avoid getting lost on the trails
A map of the trail network can be found at most tourist information centres throughout the city. However, if you have a smartphone, the best way to decrease your chances of getting lost is by downloading the maps.me application as it also contains the trail network.
Wait, what’s maps.me?
Maps.me is an application that can be downloaded onto your smartphone via iOS or Android. Maps can be downloaded of each country and can then be viewed offline. So, if you ever find yourself lost in a foreign country and with no data plan, maps.me is your savior. Map data is contributed publicly by users from all over the world via Open Street Maps.
Out of the 14 trails, we managed to hike trails 3, 4, 7 and 10. The rest of the trail descriptions are based on what we heard from other travelers and locals in the area. Make sure you do your proper research before setting off and always inform someone of where you are going and when you expect to come back!
Trail Network of the Cameron Highlands
Trail 1: Updated May 28, 2017 – Trail 1 is now closed.
Trail 1 leads to the top of Gunung Brinchang, at 2,032 m. We opted for the tour to get to the top instead, but met a fellow traveller at the look out who had walked the full way. The hike is quite long, but also rewarding as it passes some beautiful scenery through the Boh Tea Plantations and leads you to the second highest peak in the Cameron Highlands.
If you are in Tanah Rata and on foot, you may need to either hitchhike or take a taxi to get to the trail head. The trail head is located just north of the town of Brinchang.
If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you may be able to continue on towards the trail head of Trail 14. This trail will lead you up a ridge to the summit of Gunung Irau, which at 2,110 m is the highest summit in the Cameron Highlands.
The two pictures below show the view from the summit of Gunung Brinchang. If you are a hiker, be warned: as Gunung Brinchang is a part of the most popular tours, expect to find lots of tourists with you at the summit!
Trail 2 starts from the village of Brinchang at the Buddhist temple and merges with Trail 3 further on. It is not well marked and quite hilly.
Trail 3 takes you to the top of Gunung Berembun at 1,840 m. I’ll be honest with you: The top of Gunung Berembun is nothing to write home about. The summit is so overgrown you only get the tiniest of views. Even still, we really enjoyed Trail 3 for the walk itself. The trail is clear and well defined, and takes you through jungle, crosses rivers, and through beautiful vegetation and scenery.
There is more than one way to hike Trail 3. We started by taking Trail 7 up to the top of Gunung Berembun, then came back down Trail 3 and Trail 4. It took us just under four hours.
We took Trail 4 as part of Trails 3 and 7. If you are looking for a short and easy hike, Trail 4 by itself is a good option and is mostly paved. There is an option along the trail to see some waterfalls. Unfortunately, the waterfalls themselves are not so impressive. There was a ton of garbage in and around the waterfalls when we went, and the water is very muddy.
Although we didn’t manage to hike Trail 5, we heard good reviews from other travelers.
We were advised against taking Trail 6 as it is supposedly an easy trail to get lost in, with little to no signage.
Trail 7 is a beautiful trail that is relatively easy to follow. The first 250 m of the trail are extremely overgrown, but afterwards the trail widens and it’s much more pleasant. We took Trail 7 to reach the top of Gunung Beremban, and then came back down Trails 3 and 4. See Trail 3 for more info.
Trail 8, similar to Trails 3 and 7, takes you to the summit of Gunung Berembun. This trail starts from the Robinson Waterfall before joining up with Trail 3.
Trails 9 and 9a:
We heard several people (both locals and tourists) advising us not to try Trail 9 due to multiple robberies occurring.
Trail 10 is a beautiful half day hike. It passes through ancient mossy rainforest, with the ground feeling quite “spongy” as you walk due to the buildup of moss. There were signs along the way. At the end of the trail, we exited into a large commercial electrical power plant, which we walked along before joining up with the road. We then walked along the road and observed several construction sites while heading back into town.
Trail 11 – Temporarily Closed
Trail 11 was closed when we were in the area (late May of 2016) due to a landslide.
Trail 12 – Permanently Closed
Trail 12 is permanently closed. We heard that the mountain that Trail 12 leads up to was dug out for real estate development. Cameron Highlands is growing at an astounding rate. If there was ever a time to visit it before it loses even more of it’s natural beauty, it’s now, before it’s too late.
The mysterious Trail 13. According to this site, it merges with Trail 14. It’s the only trail out of the fourteen that isn’t shown on Open Street Maps. If you do happen to come across any information on it, please let me know and I will update the guide.
Trail 14 takes you along a forested ridge to the summit of Gunung Irau, the highest summit in the Cameron Highlands. Although we didn’t have time to do it, it sounds like an amazing trek through much of the mossy forest, and with spectacular scenery looking like something out of Lord of the Rings! I’ve heard that the trail can get very muddy and is also very challenging, so make sure you come prepared and inform others of where you are headed. The trailhead to Gunung Irau starts at the end of the boardwalk through the mossy forest on Trail 1.
To tell you the truth, four days was too short. The Cameron Highlands was one of those places that I could easily have spent a few weeks. Okay, okay, so that may be more to do with the average 18 degrees Celsius and less to do with the town of Tanah Rata, which is quite small with not much going on. But even still, the natural beauty and cooler temperatures of the surroundings make it a must see destination if you ever happen to find yourself in Malaysia.
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