Last weekend I went to Vroman’s in Pasadena to buy a book. I didn’t have anything in mind so I figured I’d just purchase the first thing of interest. On the recommended books wall I saw ‘Secret Stairs’ by Charles Fleming. It’s an LA Times bestseller about the various urban stairways throughout greater Los Angeles.
I haven’t read the book in its entirety but I’m pretty sure Fleming and I wouldn’t be friends—the guy seems like a judgemental turd burger or Debbie Downer’s more annoying and obnoxious cousin from the South. I base that judgment purely on his writing style and talking shit about peoples’ homes and noisy pets. Eff you, Chuck!
I’ve walked up a few of these historic staircases throughout Los Angeles—Echo Park and Silverlake are a couple that comes to mind. I’ve also walked a couple in Highland Park and in Mt. Washington. But I wanted to go through these walks in their entirety. As someone who likes to wander neighborhoods like a fucking madman that you tell your children not to take candy from, you can bet that I am going to be all over these walks!
Secret Stairs of LA Walk #1 — La Loma Road.
This is my first official walk from this book. I have to say, it’s a pretty neat walk. This particular walk apparently goes through Pasadena, just like Charles Fleming said! I also confirmed it on Google Maps.
The maps in the Secret Stairs book are decent and accurate from what I’ve seen. Google Maps on mobile (and desktop) seem to know about these staircases, too. And if you know what to look for their not too hard to spot, although it is somewhat vague. See screenshot:
The walk isn’t too long and I’d wager you could finish it in less than an hour; it clocks in just shy of 1.5 miles. There’s plenty of steps (oh and if you think I’m so OCD that I’m going to give you a step count on this you can instantly forget that notion!) and it’s a pretty and well-shaded walk. Given the suburban nature of the walk and how it starts out, it seems like you’re not going to see all that much but I was proven wrong. There are a lot of interesting homes to look at; it’s a pretty neighborhood and that there are so many stairs is surprising—I love how they just seem to pop out from nowhere.
I would advise bringing water or some other beverage with you.
Pro Tip 2:
Don’t be that asshole who wears jeans and a shirt on this thing. It’s rigorous enough that you’ll work-up a sweat. Don’t be like me—I looked like a goddamned hooligan who lost his clown suit en route to scaring the living shit out of every child in a two-mile radius! Wear breathable, moisture-wicking, material aka athletic wear.
Oh, here’s a Gmap Pedometer of the route. I’m pretty fucking cool, right?
I don’t really have any recommendations for places walkable from this walk’s starting point.
I’m a big fan of Little Flower cafe—it’s the kind of place you’d expect every grandmother to sit down and have her soup and sandwich (at least that’s what my Nana liked to do). Little Flower is east on Colorado blvd. and up the hill.
Eagle Rock Kitchen is the other direction on Colorado, a few miles down. They serve Filipino Comfort foods. The place is run by a Mother and Son combo. Get the ERK fries and Adobo chicken for fucks sake! Also, they use the .kitchen domain on their website. Strong!
If you’re feeling extra fancy and give zero fucks about how rank you smell after your rigorous walk then make a reservation at Little Beast. In all honesty, it’s pretty gross how many awesome places there are to eat through that particular corridor of Colorado Blvd. as it runs through Eagle Rock. You can’t really go wrong. Oh, if you’re feeling extra shitty about life and want to serious damage your arteries there’s Oinkster. I’m not going to link to it. I won’t be responsible for your rage shits or spontaneous heart explosion.