Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Walk #6: Hermon and Highland Park

Distance: 3 miles
Steps: 386
Difficulty: 2.5

"This is a quirky walk through a quirky part of town - most Angelinos don't even know there is a Hermon - featuring some very secluded staircases and some ancient Los Angeles history." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

The only reason I know that Hermon exists (just a few miles from Downtown LA) is because my friend Leana used to live there. Hermon sits across the 110 Freeway from Highland Park and borders South Pasadena. It has a small-town feel to it and nobody knows it's there - even those who are native Angelinos. This was our fourth walk (38 more to go!) and we continue to be surprised.

The 110 Freeway begins in Pasadena and ends at the harbor in San Pedro. The segment stretching from Pasadena to Downtown runs for less that 10 miles and is the earliest highway in Los Angeles. It was not built for current speeds or volume. Not only are the onramps/offramps extremely short but there are so many curves that you really have to pay attention.

We crossed over the freeway from Hermon to Highland Park, one of the oldest settled areas of Los Angeles. From the bridge we noticed a bikepath running along the Arroyo Seco that parallels the highway. We have biked along the Los Angeles River many times and it's great to discover another path which we will be sure to use in the future.

Our newly-discovered bike path.

Part of the walk brought us to Figueroa Street and we discovered that the reason for the closure of the street was for a peace march. While we waited for the march to start we grabbed some coffee at Antigua Bread and resisted the appealing breakfast entrees. I am a sucker for a parade and we saw the whole thing as it lasted no more than a few minutes. It's the unexpected that makes these walks so fun!

As we walked through one of the oldest parts of Highland Park we came upon a neighborhood park - La Tierra de la Culebra. It's a very rustic local plot of land not run by the city but by a local non-profit and it has quite a bit of charm to make up for the lack of upkeep and fancy gardens.

Not your neighborhood Starbucks!

Back in Hermon once again and near the freeway was the next set of steps. We heard roosters crowing and chickens clucking as we started climbing and there they were! There were dozens of chickens and roosters in coops and cages which could easily be seen as we climbed.

Stairs on left, fowl on right.

The next set of steps took us far up the hill and consisted of 2 parts but they were isolated and had no houses on one side. It was shaded by oaks and was really peaceful. My favorite set of stairs was the last one as we went DOWN 140 steps to finish the walk.

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 38 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 1,733

Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA


  1. I know we've only done 4 of these walks to date but I think this one might be my favorite - seeing the little town of Hermon, the parade on Figueroa in Highland Park, the chickens and roosters... all just great. Can't wait for the next one.

  2. I find myself wondering where the next walk will take us and it is so fun to have surprises!

  3. Really a delightful experience browsing thru the blog. ...learned a lot more about an LA that I thought I knew! Lovely narrative and beautiful pictures too! Thanks