Secret Stair Walk #10: Happy Valley and Montecito Heights

— My goal was to finish all the walks in the book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. I only had about 10 walks left when I pushed it to the back burner. One of my 2014 resolutions is to finally share those last walks with you. —

It’s FINALLY Saturday, and I’m in weekend zen mode while trying to fight off the start of a cold. I’ve got a candle lit, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is on my tv (I’ve never seen it!), I’ve just slept in a little and now I’ve got the pleasure of sharing a Secret Stair walk with you.

This next walk is #10 in my book, and was extremely unique. It took me to the neighborhood of Montecito Heights, which I’ve never explored before.

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It begins in an area with a mixture of low income housing and apartment buildings.

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Tiny motorcycle with sidecar…  Amazing.

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These short steps lead to a little park just off the main road. This private area was also a midday love nest for teens, so I adjusted my route to avoid catching people in compromising positions.

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Back along the trek we started to head up into the hills. This walk had many adorable yapping dogs like this cutie above.

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… Higher and higher up and down rolling hills.

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High up on the hillside, the views were smoggy. It’s crazy to think how close to downtown this neighborhood is and yet there were times the homes became spread out and very rural. In fact at time the roads became dirt and only wide enough for 1 car.

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This loop is a 3.7 mile trek with lots of staircases. It was a great workout.

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At the top of the next big hill, the views were incredible.

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And at the top of that hill the road became dirt again. There were actually houses off this road. Here we are just a few miles from downtown LA and there are dirt roads and…

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TUMBLEWEEDS! Actual tumbleweeds (and many of them at that) were rolling all around me.

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The road was so bumpy it was hard to walk on it so I imagine cars have difficulty on this steep hillside.

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Another cute white fluffy doggie.

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The houses were very sparse up on this hillside, and several looked more like squatters using the land. I saw so many old dumped cars that looked like they were rehabbed to be like a room for tenants. It was a really strange place to be. Especially given the amazing views, you would think this land would be worth millions, and yet the properties looked like sheds with outdoor fire pits as kitchens, and cars used as bedrooms.

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As I looped back down the hillside, more signs of traditional living popped up.

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I turned a corner and got this view of a relatively bare hillside with odd looking massive concrete homes lining the edge of the hill. All of the homes have fallen into disrepair and yet the incredible views these homes have… I just don’t get it?

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After looping back to the main road, I was met with signs of life other than doggies. This mural is near a local school.

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As I was crossing to end the loop and get back to my car, this lovely bird sat for a while on the crosswalk button I needed to hit. Also, don’t you love the texture on that wall?

Well, that’s the end of this loop. I hope you’re all enjoying your Saturday. Why not get out there this weekend and do some Secret Stair walks?

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