- Elevation: 1,070 m (3,510 ft)
- Prominence: 302 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Peninsular Malaysia
- Malaysian state: Selangor
- Range: Banjaran Titiwangsa / Main Range
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Formerly known as ‘Treacher Hill’.
Bukit Kutu is one of the most popular hikes near Kuala Lumpur and used to be a hill station in the colonial era. Its name means “flea hill” but was also known a century ago as Treacher Hill after William Hood Treacher, British Resident of Selangor. It takes around 3 hours up and 2 hours back down and is now most commonly hiked from Kampung Pertak, Kuala Kubu Baru which lies to the north of the range. However, the original route one hundred years ago led up from the other side directly from Kuala Kubu Bharu (or KKB as it is often abbreviated by local people) via a 15-kilometre bridle path.
The summit offers great views from some precarious-looking boulders and even though the hill is not especially prominent – due to it being in the same large mountain range as the higher Gunung Rajah (1,685m) and also Ulu Kali (1,772m) at Genting Highlands – it is an absolute must for all hikers in Malaysia because there are so many interesting things about it. Be aware that dogs from the village are likely to follow you all the way up and all the way back down again.
Bukit Kutu was first established as a minor hill station in 1893, with two bungalows being constructed in 1895 and 1904. Each apparently had a telephone, fireplace, telescope and there was also a tennis court. The bridle path was regarded as poor quality and ultimately the hill station fell into disuse, being mere ruins by 1935. The hill was also bombed by the Japanese during the Second World War. By the mid-twentieth century the hill station was a ghost town. And in 2023, a chimney above a fireplace, entrance steps and two wells is all that remains of one of the two bungalows near the summit.
The following describes the route up from Pertak.
From the Pertak trailhead (296m) where there is plenty of space to park vehicles alongside the Pertak river, the trail leads via a bridge (276m) over a pleasant river, then a damaged and collapsed bridge (292m) which just about makes it possible to get across safely except after incredibly wet weather (the same kind of conditions which must have led to its collapse) and then an unmarked trail junction for Gunung Rajah (309m) on the left. Continuing right, there is another river crossing (293m) and this time you must wade through. This has been known to be too deep to cross safely on a few occasions so do be careful. It is worth considering whether to keep your shoes on or not as beyond this point there are no more major rivers to cross where you feet will get wet.
After some standard forestry warning signs (331m), there is a minor stream crossing (339m) before reaching some very impressive tree roots (393m) which appear to cascade across the path from a nearby tree. It’s one of several good spots for photographs. Not long after this there are a couple of trail signs (439m) at an obvious rest point.
Next, you will find yourself near some rocks and another stream (621m). After this is the spectacular Batu Tedung (770m)which means ‘cobra rock’ in English, not because of there being lots of cobras in the area but because the huge boulder resembles the head of a cobra from certain angles. It is a genuinely enormous boulder and a wonderful point of interest on the trail. Once round the side of the rock, there is actually a minor junction on the left to a little viewpoint (813m with the viewpoint itself just a couple of minutes beyond at 818m).
The trail is very pleasant from here and eventually you will reach the remains of the bungalow (1,044m) which are primarily comprised of the fireplace and chimney, plus the steps to the door a few metres away. There are also two wells which have unfortunately been used by irresponsible hikers as a litter bin for their plastic drink bottles.
The Bukit Kutu summit boulders are just a few minutes beyond and above the bungalow chimney. Most online sources state an elevation of 1,053m but this seems to refer to the ground at the base of the boulders where there is a cement block, possibly once used for map-making. Based on GPS readings the true elevation at the top of the rocks appears to be in the region of 1,070m. Take real care on the boulders, which are a cluster of smooth egg-like rocks with ladder sections tied with rope to them. From the top you should be able to see beyond the Selangor river reservoir below to the peaks of the Titiwangsa Range northwards near Bukit Fraser (Semangkok, Twin Peak, Pine Tree Peak, Gunung Gap, Gunung Ulu Semangkok) and eastwards towards Gunung Rajah.
About 300 metres beyond the summit, or less than five are the ruins (also 1,044m) of a taller structure than a bungalow, also with well-preserved steps. These ruins are also well worth visiting though the original use is not clear.
Several black and white photographs of the bungalow near the summit of Bukit Kutu are available online, once of which has been colorised. These images date from 1921 and the bungalow appears very similar in design to those found on Bukit Larut, or Maxwell Hill, near Taiping. One, taken outside, shows a man relaxing on a seat on a lawn in what back then was a garden. Hills can be seen in the background, and the front door steps to the bungalow are some of the few remaining relics still exisiting up there a century on. According to a local Malaysian blog post written in July 2011 by Shiek, the man on the chair is the grandfather of an Englishman named Tony Wright from Plymouth who happened to be hiking Bukit Kutu on the same day as the blogger in 2011.
A second photo is equally fascinating and is taken inside the bungalow, with a small table and some wicker chairs in front of a fireplace. The same fireplace and chimney column is the one which forms the main remains of the bungalow on Bukit Kutu today. It’s incredible to see how quickly the jungle takes back the work of humans, although it is not clear to what extent the bombing by the Japanese impacted the buildings here or if the British destroyed the buildings as the Japanese forces advanced.
Tony Wright also mentioned the existence of a sanatorium, or building for helping those who are sick, and this could potentially refer to the ruins on Bukit Kutu which exist around 300 metres away and are definitely not the ruins of a single-storey bungalow but a taller structure. Or it could be that the ‘sanatorium’ refers to Bukit Kutu hill-top in its entirety as a place of recuperation away from the stifling heat down at sea level.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2023)
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- Getting there: About 90 minutes by car from KL. There is also a train station in Kuala Kubu Bharu but you will need onward transportation arranged to get to the trailhead.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Bukit Kutu information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Required, along with an official Selangor mountain guide.
- Water sources: Several rivers and streams as far as 621m on the Pertak route but best to take enough of your own.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall