At just under 11,000 feet in elevation, Mt. Baker is one of the highest peaks in the cascade range, setting the stage for one of the Best Hill Climbs events in the US. The route ascends 4,462 feet from Chair 9 in Glacier to Artist Point over 22 miles with 5,140 feet of elevation gain. The average gradient is 6.5% with pitches that hit 14% grade. The Mt. Baker Highway (SR542) is known as one of the most scenic paved roads in the country, and rarely is the highway closed to motorized vehicles from Glacier to Artist Point. With steep elevation and several switchbacks, this ride is not for the faint of heart, but the views are stunning.
The event’s history dates back to 1977 when local cyclist Jerry Baker proposed the idea of a road race that would take riders up the steep and winding roads of Mt. Baker. The first race attracted 38 riders and has grown in popularity since then. Today, the event attracts hundreds of cyclists from across the globe, and it has become a challenging test of endurance and stamina for cyclists of all skill levels.
The race route starts in the town of Glacier, which is located at the foot of Mt. Baker. Cyclists then follow the winding roads through dense forests and scenic mountain vistas, passing through several small communities. The climb becomes steeper as riders approach the ski area, with the final few miles being particularly challenging. The region around Mt. Baker is known for its stunning natural beauty, including snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and dense forests. The area is also home to several rivers and lakes, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.