Thrills on wheels at new Chestnut Nature Park (South)

More than 100 cyclists tried out the new 1.6km mountain bike trail at Chestnut Nature Park (South) yesterday, and many were pleased with the experience.
More than 100 cyclists tried out the new 1.6km mountain bike trail at Chestnut Nature Park (South) yesterday, and many were pleased with the experience.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

NParks opens Chestnut Nature Park (South), launches community stewards scheme

Ascending steep slopes, navigating tricky obstacles, and tackling narrow tracks - these are several of the challenges cycling enthusiasts can take on at a new 1.6km mountain biking trail.

The trail is part of the 17ha Chestnut Nature Park (South), which also has a 2.1km hiking trail.

The park, next to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, was opened by the National Parks Board (NParks) yesterday. It is the first here with both trails for mountain bikes and hikers.

When the 64ha Chestnut Nature Park (North) is completed by the end of this year, it will boast a total of 5km of hiking trails and 6km of biking ones.

From the middle of this year, park users can also look forward to a kiosk where they can rent bicycles.

Yesterday, NParks also launched the Friends of the Parks scheme to encourage greater community stewardship of green spaces.

Selected parks under the scheme will each be headed by a community of up to 10 members from various interest groups, such as hikers, bikers and researchers.

They will play a role in promoting responsible use of the parks through ground-led initiatives.

Chestnut Nature Park, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the Park Connector Network will be the first to get such a group. The existing Friends of Ubin Network for Pulau Ubin will also come under the scheme, but will continue operating without any changes.

Said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee, who attended the opening yesterday: "The community may propose and organise meaningful activities that they would like to carry out... and suggest ideas, such as conservation, recreation and horticultural projects."

More than 100 mountain bikers yesterday tried the moderately challenging trail at the park for the first time, and many were pleased with the experience.

Avid cyclist Jonathan Wong, a 32-year-old sales manager, said it is a good training ground for beginners who are trying to grasp basic bike-handling techniques.

"It is made for riders of all abilities," he said. "Bikers can ride closer to nature and get a good workout in the process."

A group of mountain bikers tested the trail a few weeks ago. Based on their input, tweaks were made to improve safety while keeping the trail challenging.

The northern portion of the nature park includes a supposedly tougher biking trail.

Last year, NParks closed the popular Butterfly Trailas parts of it fell within the construction site of the nature park.

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, NParks' director of conservation, said the trail is currently undergoing biodiversity assessments and restorative works.

"We have to wait until these studies have been completed before we can formulate any plans," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 03, 2016, with the headline 'Thrills on wheels at new nature park'. Print Edition | Subscribe