In my continuing conquest of kicking asphalt and mastering so many stairs across LA’s vast metropolis, I’ll tell you all about the “Circles of El Sereno.” I should note that I’m writing this from Dry River Brewing near the LA River in Downtown LA. If you like sour beers then you absolutely must go to there!
Much of El Sereno is a working-class town with a large Hispanic population, speckled with shops and tiny eateries so it’s usually bustling pretty well most times during the day.
The walk has you starting at Gambier St. and Eastern, where El Sereno Middle School sits. Fleming writes in his book that this is one of the “doggiest walks” he completed during the course of putting his routes together. I didn’t notice an overbearing volume of barking dogs, which I was worried could mar my walk so that was a good thing.
The Circles of El Sereno are interesting and the walk itself is pretty easy. The first incline is a bit of a doozy, on par with the steps over in Mt. Washington. As you cross Eastern and jaunt over to Lynnfield you catch the white noise of the neighborhood with cars constantly hurdling down the street, muddled with the chatter of children at play and other folks yelling hello to one another from opposite sides of the street. This neighborhood reminds me of where my Great Grandmother lived in Upland, where I spent many Summers as a child—it seemed like the neighborhood was close-knit, people knew one another well. Phelps reveals your first set of stairs as you turn onto Lynnfield, which slice into the side of a large hill and through two sets of circular streets for which this walk is named. The first set of stairs are split in two, divided by Chadwick Cir. When you get to the top, on a sunny day, you’re able to catch sweeping panoramas of the San Gabriel Mountains, Downtown LA, with a lot of peoples’ backyards and abandoned cars.
The stairs are described, in the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles, as painted green. Most of the color has faded from sight leaving only the concrete beneath the paint, which lends to the staircase’s imposing stature.
Making a half-circle around Chadwick will lead you to your next set of steps which descend to Ballard. The streets are fairly tight, so make sure you’re paying attention to oncoming traffic and especially cars coming from behind (I’m looking at you people who listen to music while out and about).
Take Ballard to the left, then left on Chester, and finally another left back to Lynnfield. You’ll end up back at Phelps where you’re on your way to your last set of steps. Turn right on Templeton and left at Castalia, which is a dead-end street. Where the street ends is where you’ll find your final set of steps, which are pretty insignificant honestly but, hey, if you’re reading this then you’re a completionist asshole just like me—so you do your fucking stairs and you like it.
Route on Gmap Pedometer
Photos from the walk