On New Year’s Day, J. and I did our first walk from Charles Fleming’s book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles. We chose Walk #40:Santa Monica—Rustic Canyon Loop, a three-mile loop that includes 1,069 stairs. (RunKeeper tells me it was 3.37 miles and two hours and 11 minutes, but we went off track a little toward the park along Ocean Avenue above the Pacific Coast Highway.
Parking in the pay lot between the beach and the PCH just south of Entrada Drive, we located the pedestrian tunnel and made our way to the first set of stairs. The two longest staircases—from East Ocean Avenue and Entrada Drive to Adelaide Drive (the latter set of 166 wooden stairs is particularly neat)—were relatively crowded with joggers and others exercising; the rest of the walk was calm.
The remaining staircases were less trafficked and felt almost private as they wended their way up and down between people’s homes, along fenced-in yards, and otherwise in between and behind residential buildings.
Along the way, we saw a Little Free Library on a small traffic island. Both of us stepped into its shadowy cool to browse, but we didn’t find anything worth taking with us. We also met a family doing much the same walk. The man had grown up in the area and was showing his wife and two young daughters the staircases, while sharing memories of having the run of them and the neighborhood as a child. It would be a neat place to grow up, for sure. We bumped into them again a
couple of times, once in an alleyway that featured a small trampoline.
J. and I found the staircases in the second half of the walk to be most interesting: more weathered and worn, less traveled, and going more interesting places. At the end, after 1,069 stairs, we were well ready for lunch when we returned to our starting point, taking another pedestrian tunnel back to the parking lot, the beach, and the ocean.
Recommendation for an after-hike repast: Patrick’s Roadhouse on Entrada at the PCH in Santa Monica. The homemade potato chips are delicious, but overly plentiful.
(This previously appeared in Karma Lapel Vol. 3, No. 2. If you'd like to receive the perzine monthly, send me The Usual.)