March 3, 2017: Trolley Trail Branford, CT

How do you like the new logo? Thought it was about time I jazzed it up a bit, as it hasn’t been touched in 2 years.

One thing that I miss  about my LA life is doing fun activities and blogging about them, which I stopped doing due to lack of time now that I’m on the east coast. I also noticed that I have a hard time finding important details about hikes on the east coast. I’m channeling my inner MODERN HIKER and sharing a post about a fun outdoor walk in Branford, CT called the Trolley Trail.

The Trolley Trail is a very easy, flat outdoor trail along the water in Branford, CT… specifically the Thimble Island area. The views are excellent and this one-way-out, one-way-back trail is pretty short so you can add on laps in the neighborhoods on either side of the walk (obeying privacy signs) to make it a full workout. Super easy, super pretty, so bring a camera and a picnic lunch 🙂

The Map:

trolleytrail9

There are two areas to park (“P”). One lot is by W Point Rd & Thimble Island Rd (by a baseball field) and the other is at the end of Tilcon Rd. The walk stretches between these two lots. In my images I start by the baseball field, walk out to Tilcon Rd, and back (adding on an extra walking loop down Thimble Island Rd for more exercise). I imagine on a really nice summer day, parking would be harder to come by, but I was surprised at how generous both lots were.

Check out the RULES:

TrolleyTrail1.jpg

TrolleyTrail2.jpg

The walk begins by taking you over a bridge (fun photo op!)

TrolleyTrail3.jpg

There are excellent views throughout the walk, so be sure to look up while you stroll. See the Thimble Islands off in the distance? Bring binoculars for birding/gawking at gorgeous homes.

trolleytrail4

A chunk of this path is even PAVED (and there are benches to rest!). I should note that there are some additional trails that go off into the woods from this trail. We didn’t explore this, but families with children were heading off to snack on the rocks overlooking the trail.

TrolleyTrail5.jpg

This was a surprisingly sunny (but chilly) Sunday in February at low tide, so it wasn’t the most colorful time for plants and trees (dullsville) but there’s still something beautiful about dried muted plants.

TrolleyTrail6.jpg

At one point we went under a bridge and there was a well dressed graffiti artist working his magic. I’m not sure what he was adding to these walls, but it had to be Banksy. I’m sure of it 😉

trolleytrail7

After looping back, this is the view heading back over the bridge to the parking lot.

trolleytrail8

On our way back to the car (just beyond the bridge) is a little trail with a tree swing and a spot to get closer to the water.

TRAIL EXTENSION:

TrolleyTrail10.jpg

So to make this a longer walk (although I guess you could just do laps back and forth along the Trolley Trail if you wanted) I suggest leaving your parked car in the lot and walking into town along Thimble Island Rd. This above is a view from a little sandy beach front. If it’s warm, put your feet in!

trolleytrail11

Above is the view from the dock where you can take a ferry boat around the Islands (in the summer). I will 100% be doing this in the summer, and I’ll share the deets with you when I do. I suggest walking down the little side streets, stop at the deli by the water for lunch (or pack a picnic and eat it on the beach) and enjoy the pretty views and gorgeous houses.

 

Advertisements

Secret Stair Walk #42: Pacific Palisades – Giant Steps

— 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.

Pacific1

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.

Pacific2

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.

Pacific3

Up we go!

Pacific4

This path leads to the Rustic Canyon entrance of Topanga State Park.

Pacific5

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….

Pacific6

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.

Pacific7

Stair Time!!!

Pacific8

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.

Pacific9

This climb s covered in graffiti and littered with trash, so be careful with each step.

Pacific10

This empty water tower is after the first big descent, but then lower you must go!

Pacific12

Down…

Pacific13

Down…

Pacific14

At last we make it to the canyon floor.

Pacific15

This is where we really see the compound remains… and all the graffiti.

Pacific16

Every inch of this structure is covered in graffiti and the floors are covered in empty paint cans.

Pacific17 Pacific18 Pacific19 Pacific20 Pacific21

Bath tub!

Pacific22

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.

Pacific23

Time for the monster!

Pacific24

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.

Pacific25

We did it! Celebrating at the top of the climb!

Pacific26

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.

Secret Stair Walk #11: Downtown Los Angeles

— 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 another Secret Stair walk and we are getting close to the end of the book. This downtown LA walk was a really fun way to spend a Sunday. My friend Jamie and I carpooled downtown on this beautiful weekend morning.

Down1

We started at Grand Central Market, but didn’t grab breakfast. We decided a celebratory meal was in order at the end of the walk instead of the beginning.

Down2

Since I was last downtown the Market has had some upgrades done. For example there’s a craft bar for kids, a cool coffee shop, and of course…

Down2a

The EGGSLUT stall! It’s no longer just a food truck, and it’s worth the wait in the long line. Trust me.

Down3

After a walk through the market we continued on the stair walk. Angels Flight is currently being fixed, but that’s no worries since we were in it for the exercise.

Down4

At the top of Angels Flight is Grand Plaza with shops and outdoor seating. In the summer this is where Grand Performances holds it’s free events. I HIGHLY recommend visiting this plaza and also seeing one of the free shows. Bring some grapes, cheese and a blanket to sit under the stars and enjoy a free show.

Down5 Down6

Downtown murals.

Down7

Downtown LA has amazing sculptures all over the place.

Down8

This is taken by the public Library at the top of the steps.

Down8a

This is the front of the library entrance.

Down9 Down10 Down11

Sculptures, sculptures, sculptures…

Down12 Down13

There are so many bridges and walkways downtown with incredible views. Also I had no idea Los Angeles had it’s own World Trade Center.

Down14

The Westin.

Down15

I’m afraid of heights, so taking this photo scared the beets outta’ me.

Down16

Indoor stairs count as stairs on this urban stair walk.

Down17

I told Jamie to pose like I was taking an action shot of her running. I think this is hilarious. Also, this hotel has a running track as one whole level of this attrium. That’s pretty cool. The whole floor is dedicated to work out spaces.

Down18

Back outside we explored more urban oasis’s hidden in the city.

Down19 Down20 Down21

We went down to to the Walt Disney Hall and looped around the back of the building.

Down22

This art piece is behind the buidling. It’s made of broken porcelain plates.

Down23

 

We looped back to Grand Plaza by the Moca. We had to stop in and browse the gift shop.

We made our way back to Grand Central Market where we ate at the Egg Slut stall. It was amazing. So delicious. Jamie and I agreed this was such a great day. The weather was perfect for playing outside and it’s always fun finding new little gems downtown. I highly recommend it!

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.

Happy1

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

Happy2

Tiny motorcycle with sidecar…  Amazing.

Happy3

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.

Happy4

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

Happy5

… Higher and higher up and down rolling hills.

Happy6

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.

Happy7 Happy8 Happy9 Happy10

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

Happy11

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

Happy12

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…

Happy13

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

Happy14

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

Happy15

Another cute white fluffy doggie.

Happy16

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.

Happy17

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

Happy18 Happy19

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?

Happy20 Happy21

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

Happy22

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?

Secret Stair Walk#5: Mt. Washington

— 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. —

Sadly, Im no longer in the funemployment game, so my Secret Stair walking days are now reserved for weekends only. Thankfully I have a handful that I still need to tell you about. This next walk is Secret Stair Walk #5: Mt. Washington.

Wash1

The walk begins by the busy intersection of Figueroa and Avenue 45. It starts with congestion but then quickly becomes a quiet neighborhood trek.

Wash2

I love finding little neighborhood details.

Wash3

After a steep hill, comes steep staircases. Thankfully, what goes up must come down.

Wash4

This walk was “pre-rain” so the sky still has a cloudy (cough* smoggy) haze to it.

Wash5

This old ranch had some fun colorful lighting to jazz it up.

Wash6

It’s rare you see tile work like this along the driveway.

Wash7

Reaching the top of the hill, I could barely see the faint outline of the downtown skyline. Grrr smog.

Wash8

This residential neighborhood opens up at the top of the hill to be a quiet valley without many signs of life.

Wash9

After the short dusty loop, it becomes a plush neighborhood again. In fact, it leads right to the Self-Relization Center on Mt. Washington which has super pretty gardens open to the public. It’s so relaxing there.

Wash10 Wash11 Wash12

They keep the gardens so well manicured.

Wash13 Wash14

This is some tile fun on a bridge just past the meditation center.

Wash15

I passed a few local schools up on Mt. Washington. I imagine the neighbors walking their children here. It must feel so far from LA, because it’s all so peaceful up on the hilltop.

Wash16

Thankfully, I was not attacked by a dog here.

Wash17 Wash18

Stairs, stairs, stairs…

Wash19

The faux broken turtle trying to climb the stairs…

Wash20

 

I love doors and gate doors are no exception.

Wash21

 

Back down to the hustle and bustle of Figueroa.

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have a busy weekend full of Secret Stair walks!

Here Comes The Rain

HikingMe

LA, the rain is coming! Are you ready? I’m looking forward to it. Los Angeles needs the water. This week seems to be my last week of daytime freedom before I start up on a project, and it’s jam packed with fun. Yesterday I reached a big goal of finishing all of the Secret Stair walks from Charles Fleming’s book (a big goal of mine). I’ll be finishing up a table today, and also visiting the Reagan Presidential Library this afternoon. When the rain rolls in, I’m looking forward to deep cleaning the house, reading my book and working on some blog posts for you. February is over at the end of the week, so expect a resolutions check-in. Lots to do, lots to do!

UPDATE:

The Reagan Presidential Library is a lot of fun! Expect a write-up on my visit soon.

d588f5409f1e11e38a2d121a7ff3b48e_8

Secret Stair Walk#9: El Sereno Circles

— 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. —

I’m excited to say that today I’m completing my last Secret Stair walk from my book! It was one of my goals for February and I’ll finish today, just as the month is winding down. Since I’m still back-logged with walks to share with you, I won’t be able telling you about today’s walk until sometime next week. In the meantime, here’s my walk #9: El Sereno Circles.

This walk was pretty short (1.8 miles) and I completed it on February 14 (Valentine’s Day).

Sereno1 Sereno2

This walk starts along a busy street. Seeing a pay-phone (minus the phone), I had to take a photo.

Sereno3

It’s a short walk, but it’s got stairs! Up I go!

Sereno4

The views are great, unfortunately it was a bit smoggy (classic LA).

Sereno5 Sereno6

A cat joined me for a stretch of the loop.

Sereno7 Sereno8 Sereno9

For some reason this Valentine’s Day was filled with so much sky writing. Constant skywriting. I took this photo above to try to line the stairs up as if to say “I heart the secret stairs”.

Sereno10

Texture fun.

Sereno11

This walk has a ton of barking dogs along it, so be prepared for that. As I took this photo of a decorative gate, the dogs on the other side of it went from silent to loudly barking at me.

Sereno12

This staircase is not part of the walk, but it’s funny that the stairs sort of lead to nowhere.

Sereno13

Patterns and texture.

Sereno14

In honor of Valentine’s Day.

Sereno15 Sereno16

I’ll leave you with this photo above. As I was looping back to my car and waiting at a stoplight, I saw this ad taped to a pole. It seems to be some kind of event where morbidly obese people in scooters slam into cars?? It made me sad, but I felt I should share it, since I am documenting the walk and this was along it. Also, who knew this was a thing?? More importantly, why is this a thing??