Isn’t is fantastic when you learn something new about the area where you grew up? I spent decades not paying attention to stairs, but now that I seek them out for workout purposes, I find them everywhere!
This monster set of stairs is in Bloomer Park, in Rochester Hills, Michigan. It’s only about 30 minutes from my childhood home, but I had never previously been to the park, and never heard about the stairs.
I have Melissa, a tower runner that I’ve never met in person but I follow on social media, to thank. She suggested I visit Bloomer Park, and I’m so glad she did! It’s situated on a huge forested hillside above the Clinton River, and there’s miles of trails winding down and around the forest. There are two huge stairways to get from the top of the hill to the bottom. I circled them in blue on this map:
If I wasn’t recovering from some tendonitis in my achilles tendon, I would have devised a workout where I ran loops, up and down the stairways. But my ankle wouldn’t have any of that, so my dad and I went on a nice walk that incorporated the stairs, and many of the trails. I considered it recon for the next time I went back!
The main Bloomer Park parking lot is at the top, so we started by going down, and then back up, one of the stairways, which had 144 steps.
There’s all these, too!
Then we went down the second stairway, and explored some trails, with the intention of climbing the second stairway at the end of the walk.
The trails winded all through the forest, offering occasional glimpses of the Clinton River. There’s also two trails that follow defunct railroad lines, and we eventually connected to one of those, and walked an old railroad bridge across the river. Here’s my dad and me on the bridge:
We learned that the point where the two railroads diverged was called “Rochester Junction,” and that spot is memorialized with a picnic shelter.
We also learned that, in the mid 1800s, there was a cockamamie plan to built a canal, over 200 miles long, across the entire state of Michigan. But money dried up pretty quickly, and construction stopped… in the Bloomer Park area. At one point we walked along a very old stone retaining wall that was likely remnants of that massive, failed construction project.
We eventually did return to the second stairway for a final ascent. This stairway is taller – with 191 steps.
And don’t forget about these!
Our walk wasn’t quite over yet, though. We checked out another well-known feature of Bloomer Park, their outdoor velodrome. A velodrome is a racetrack for cycling with very high-banked walls. It was so large that the only way I could photograph it was using panorama. (Click on it to see it bigger.)
All told, we walked almost three miles and spent almost two hours on our journey. Not a bad outing at all!
I love knowing that I have a stair workout option for future visits to Michigan. And my dad loved the walk, too. He’s become an avid walker over the past six months, and he’s already begin plotting routes for return visits. Keep it up, dad, and…
…Keep it up, David!
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