Route: Mt Baldhead Stairs Vertical K (MI)

Michigan, US
2.4 mi
Vertical Gain
3,381 ft

Vertical Kilometers are popular races, especially in Europe.  They are all-out, ascent-only races on the steepest terrain possible.  By repeating this classic stair climb 17 times, we now have a Vertical K in the Midwest!

The Mt Baldhead Stairs are extremely popular - there have been 1,746 Attempts by 560 people on the main Strava Segment (as of 9/27/2021) - and are located in the beautiful resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan.  There is parking at the bottom, and many trails but no road up Mt Baldhead. The Stairs ascend from the Kalamazoo River, while the backside of Mt Baldhead is a dune of pure white sand, leading directly down to Oval Beach on Lake Michigan, rated by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 25 shorelines in the world, and one of the top 5 beaches in the country.  

So the Stairs are worth it.  They are 198' high, so 17 laps totals 3,366', which is 85' more than the 3,281' of a kilometer.  The gradient is supposedly about 60%. This FKT Route is for 17 full up/down laps.


Unlike a VK race, this FKT Route is up/down - start either at the bottom or top and finish at the same place - 17 full laps.

No trekking poles - the carbide tips will damage the rustic 2x6 stairs.

It is advisable to go 2m past the first and last stair each lap in order for your tracking device to properly record your full lap.

Even so, due to tree cover it is possible your device might not record a full kilometer of elevation gain - but the 17 laps will show up on your .gpx Elevation Profile and provide Verification.

Beware doing this route on a summer weekend - the number of other people may bother you, and likewise.

Consider a way to physically count laps - it's hard to keep track in one's mind.

There are countless Strava Segments on Mt Baldy - "Climb Mt Baldy Saugatuck" is the most common, and is for the Stairs. 


There are innumerable Variations possible on Mt Baldy (number of laps, etc), and we will not consider adding another until this one has been repeated at least a few times - the intent of FKTs is to go faster than someone else rather than to do something slightly different.  And there are no Styles for this Route:  Unsupported and Supported are considered the same.



GPS Track