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The StairStep Hike from Downtown LA to the Hollywood Sign

Dan Koeppel created this fascinating hike through the urban landscape of Los Angeles from the heart of downtown at Angel's Flight to the Hollywood Sign.

Dan Koeppel created this fascinating hike through the urban landscape of Los Angeles from the heart of downtown at Angel's Flight to the Hollywood Sign. The complete 42-mile hike includes 111 public stairways and was carried out as a 2-day community event in the summer of 2009. Check out his blog at http://bigparadela.com/wordpress/.  You can download and print out all the maps and information they used plus more. Dan is a writer with some interesting credits like his book on the troubled banana called "Banana" and another one on his father's obsession with birdwatching, "To See Every Bird on Earth." and he was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2003 for his journalism work.  He says he has an obsession with "route geeking" which he describes as “DIY events, trips, and contests that take advantage of the urban landscape.”

A friend had told me about Dan’s route she had seen in an LA Times article, http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/14/health/he-nustairs14 and thought a geek like me might find it interesting. I'm training to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu later this year and the stair steps sounded like a great idea, plus the thought of such a unique “hidden LA” hike was irresistible. So I launched off this morning with my friend Kendyl to see what we could see.

We were not on a strict time table and were not trying for any speed records, but the fact that we hiked for 3 hours and covered maybe 5 miles doesn’t sound very strenuous, does it? But we did 11 staircases from Dan’s hike plus took all the stairs on the Gold Line and Red Line route that we encountered from Highland Park, plus up and down at the Chinatown Station where we stopped for lunch, so I figure we did over 1000 stair steps up and about that many back down again. 

To start at Angels Flight is symbolic of the history of change, progress, preservation and tragedy in Los Angeles. One of these days I hope they have the funicular running again, but for now you can read the history at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_Flight. You can follow the progress of making the cars Sinai and Olivet run again on Twitter @Angels_Flight. And take the hike up the stairs. Whew! They are steep.  100_6582

The next stunning view is of the Central Library, which is another historic treasure on the US National Register of Historic Places and a Los Angeles Cultural Monument.  Then we walked to the elevated  pedestrian walkways above Figueroa Street named after Calvin Hamilton. Who? Thanks to Dan Koeppel, I learned something very interesting about Los Angeles in stark contrast to what most of us  believe about the lack of urban planning in our fair city. Check out http://www.planetizen.com/node/23535 and learn about Concept: Los Angeles.

 

100_6613Kendyl and I both were most impressed with the Vista Hermosa Park in the Temple-Beaudry neighborhood. This new public park is the first to be installed in this area in over 100 years!  It is a project by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). This 10.5 acre park has it all, fragrant drought-tolerant plantings, amazing views of the city and surrounding mountains, unique and modern play equipment, picnic grounds, a soccer field, and a community focus with activities and programs. It’s worth the trip just to go there. Look up the details at http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=672. 

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Nearby, we walked through the Spiraling Orchard, which is a tiny community garden complete with meditation spiral, brightly painted stairs and benches, even a small altar. This was the end of the downtown portion of the staircase route, so we decided we’d earned some dim sum and retraced our steps to take Metro to Chinatown and the Empress Pavilion, which is just a short walk from the station at 988 N. Hill St, 90012.

We look forward to exploring the next leg of the route which goes from Angelino Heights through Echo Park to the Music Box Stairs, where Dan became inspired to do the stair route. Check out the Laurel and Hardy short film The Music Box, which memorialized these steps.

For all the photos I took, here’s the link http://picasaweb.google.com/tracyking23/StairstepHikeDowntownLA#

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