Penang Hill Trek
There are many routes to the top of the hill. Try not to get too lost on the trails and beware of downhill mountain bikers. If you keep on the well trodden paths, you should be alright. Otherwise, just turn back and head down hill. You will eventually hit paved road.
Bring at least 500ml to 1L of water and a snack if you plan to hike to the top. Although you can get Penang Laksa and 'ice kacang' at the top of the hill (if you remember to bring money) having a bite to eat along the way will ease the monotony of the uphill climb. If you are lucky, you might find 'kopi o' and some biscuits at Station 3, Station 5 or the midway mark fondly known as 84. These rest stops are manned by volunteers who take the trek up with their donations of coffee, food, and snacks each week. You can contribute a couple of dollars to their community pot if you think they are doing a good job.
The Trail (as marked)
Start at the Youth Park parking lot. You will see lots of trails heading up. All trails lead up, but not necessarily by the same route (see alternative routes on the map). You can also start from the "Moon Gate" entrance further down the road, on your left to Botanical Gardens...or you could start from the Jeep Track next to the Botanical Gardens gate.
If you take the route marked in 'red' you will bypass Station 3. I accidentally took a mountain bike trail on this trip which led me directly to Station 5 (look out for mountain bikers).
I particularly enjoy the hike From Station 5 to '84'. This is the most fun part of the trail. Nice shaded path and not always going up...
If I am alone, I'll usually take the Jeep Track (tar road) up to the Police station and pop out right in front of the food court at the top of the hill. The alternative jungle trail actually cuts across the hillside and heads towards the famous Penang Hill funicular train service. You will then have to climb up the long flight of stairs next to the railway tracks or crisscross your way up on the side paths until you reach the Railway Station at the top.
If you want to save your knees, plan on taking the funicular train down.
Going UP: Youth Park to '84' - 45mins to 1.5 hrs
Going UP: '84' to Penang Hill food court - 45 mins to 1.5 hrs
Coming DOWN: To '84' can take as little as 10 mins 'cos you'll be rolling down the hill if you are not already running. Seriously. The gradiant is STEEP!
I highly recommend you take the hiking trail from '84' back to your car. It is longer than the Jeep Track but it will save you from busting your knees.