— 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. —
Time for the LAST Secret Stair Walk!! I’ve been wanting to share this will you for weeks, but between weekend activities and work/mid week adventures I’ve not been able to fully focus on writing this post. For the last secret stair walk my good friend Grace joined me and we were warned by my book that this was a monster step walk.
The walk begins high up in the hills about Sunset in Pacific Palisades. On our way to the trek we pass giant homes in a beautiful neighborhood. Once we find street parking we loop through a few small streets until we reach a dead end and the road becomes a trail.
The views in this canyon are incredible. Once we pass through the neighborhood it becomes more of a hiking path with cliffs and incredible views.
Up we go!
This path leads to the Rustic Canyon entrance of Topanga State Park.
Higher and higher! I know what you’re thinking- how is this a secret stair walk? It’s more of a hike! You’ll see….
Eventually on your left youll pass this break in the fence. This is where our stair climb will end, but it gives you a view into the canyon and the estate built by Winona Stephens in the 1930’s. Folklore says that Stephens was convinced by a Nazi-sypathizer named Schmidt into investing her fortune and land into creating a self-sustaining compound so that they would be ready in the event of Hitler taking over America. At one point all the land in the photos below were part of this compound which included water tanks, diesel fuel tanks, generators and living quarters. This compound fell into disarray when Schmidt was arrested for being a Nazi Spy during World War II. Eventually the property was deeded to the state and is now a frequently visited spot by urban explorers, stair lovers, and graffiti artists.
This stair climb begins by dropping down to the bottom of the canyon. Looming in our minds is the eventual climb back up the canyon walls.
This climb s covered in graffiti and littered with trash, so be careful with each step.
This empty water tower is after the first big descent, but then lower you must go!
At last we make it to the canyon floor.
This is where we really see the compound remains… and all the graffiti.
Every inch of this structure is covered in graffiti and the floors are covered in empty paint cans.
There are many trails and loops at the bottom of the canyon, and after we’ve had our fill we head to the last set of stairs that take you from the canyon floor back to the top of the trail. This is the largest known staircase in Los Angeles with 531 steps.
Time for the monster!
We had to snap a photo to celebrate the last staircase. And yes, it is one continuous staircase with only a few larger steps that act as landings. You’ll probably have to rest a few times going up, and the higher you go the more impressive the canyon views.
We did it! Celebrating at the top of the climb!
That’s all folks! That’s the end of my Secret Stair book. It’s a relief to have it completed as it is an accomplishment, but Im sad to know I’ve completed all the walks. It’s been an amazing challenge that’s gotten me to explore neighborhoods I otherwise would have no reason to see. It’s opened my eyes to LA, gotten me outside on a sunny Sunday, and it’s given me countless hours of free fun. I also want to thank everyone who’s joined me on the walks. And to those of you who’ve told me you bought the book, do the walks. You’ll have a good time, I promise.