From elderly joggers to young nature lovers, they came yesterday to bid a temporary goodbye to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, which will be closed for a two-year renovation starting tomorrow.
But lesser-known sites around the reserve will still be accessible during the makeover to firm up the soil on trails, plant more trees and install more toilets.
The Hindhede Nature Park, Kampong Trail, Rail Corridor and mountain bike trail will remain open to the public till works end in 2016.
The 164m-high summit of Bukit Timah Hill will be accessible through the reserve's tarmac road on weekends from April next year.
Explaining the need for the repair works, Ms Sharon Chan, deputy director of the Central Nature Reserve, told The Sunday Times: "Slope failures and landslips are happening all the time. If we don't do anything, in the end, visitors won't even have the main road to walk on."
She explained that the works will take two years because they need to be done in stages so as not to disturb the ecological balance in the area and drive the animals out.
Mr Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation at the National Parks Board, said visitorship has increased from 80,000 a year in 1992 to 400,000 now. The changes will help the reserve cope with a rise in human traffic.
In the meantime, visitors will get the chance to discover three walking trails they may otherwise have ignored. Along the way to the nature reserve along Hindhede Drive is a dirt slope that leads to the scenic 24km Rail Corridor.
Further up is the Kampong Trail, which is still rife with fruit trees. There will be guided tours for this trail on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month till November.
Retired public relations veteran Goh Shih Yong has turned up at the reserve for his hike at 11am every Saturday for the past eight years with a group of seven to 10 friends.
He is excited at the possibility of starting his hike at the Kampong Trail, which leads to MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
"We will try it out first. We have to see if the trail suits our age. We are all in our 60s," he said.
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