Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Walk #7 : Highland Park-Southwest Museum

Distance: 3.2 miles
Steps: 568
Difficulty: 5

"Like its Mt. Washington neighbor in Walk #5, this is more a hike than a walk - up a very steep staircase, down some very steep hills, with as much elevation change as any staircase walk in Los Angeles. But the payoff: huge views, a sneaky approach to the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, and a visit to some amazing hillside streets." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

My tendons still hurt after this walk/hike! I think it was walking up a very steep street followed by a 198 step stairway that did it. This walk was a nice blend of urban and hillside walking. I have always known approximately where Mt. Washington was but I have never actually explored the area and Charles, Vladimir, and I were in for a great surprise. We started in Highland Park at N. Avenue 50 and N. Figueroa Street, crossed over the MTA Gold Line and walked a few blocks before encountering our first stairway.

I did not realize that we would be up there (Mt. Washington) in such a short time!

Highland Park is an old LA neighborhood with many Craftsman homes in all states of repair.
Our first stairway, rich in graffiti on the handrails.

One thing I noticed about this neighborhood was the proliferation of dogs. Some were very cheerful as were the Corgis pictured below.

Some dogs (such as this little Chihuahua) wanted to get a piece of me!

We walked a few more blocks before encountering this - a really steep street followed by a 198-step stairway. This was the worst part of the walk but well worth the climb! You can see the stairway at the very top of the street. It took us to the homes way up on the hill on Mt. Washington.
The picture below belies the steepness of the street. Vlad and Charles made a new friend on the way up.

We were greeted at the top of the street by this beauty. It was a well-maintained, wide stair case with some shade and wildflowers. This staircase would take us to the charming Mt. Washington and some spectacular views.

On Mt. Washington you see some modern homes mixed in with the old but it has a secluded feel to it and provided some shady streets and awesome views. I'd like to go back on a less hazy day to fully appreciate the views.

Our walk took us to a view of the Southwest Museum from the back. I can't belive I've never been there! It has merged with the Autry Museum in Griffith Park and is rich in the heritage and history of the Southwestern US.

Those of you who live in LA know that the Virgin has supposedly appeared all over town. We found a shrine tucked into a nook on our way down the hill.

Before visiting The Southwestern Museum (the oldest museum in Los Angeles) please visit the website as I believe its visiting hours are very limited. This back entrance lies at the bottom of the hill and is actually a tunnel that leads to an elevator as the museum itself is perched on a hill. Access is limited. Further down the street we found an open gate leading to a stairway to the museum. At the top we were met by a not-so-friendly guard who informed us that the museum and grounds were closed! I was not about to have our walk interrupted and would not take 'no' for an answer. After several minutes of explaining that I was writing a blog about stairs and showing him some pictures he relented. We walked quickly through the grounds and up several stairways that eventually led us to a driveway and we walked back down the hill. He was right behind us the whole way. I know that we will be back to spend some quality time there.

The MTA Gold Line drops you off at the bottom of the hill and is very convenient.

At the top of the stairs pictured below we encountered an elevated walkway that overlooks Figueroa Street and is lined with old homes.
This adobe was built in 1918 to look like an 1850's era home.

At the next stairway we found another shrine to the Virgen de Guadalupe.

Just steps away we found a shrine of another sort... We continued along the elevated walkway and came upon this t-shaped stairway.

Soon after we walked down this run-down stairway leading us to Figueroa.

Yet another dog on the doorstep of the Hiner House - a City landmark.
As we walked along Figueroa the Southwest Museum was ever-present.
At the end of the walk we came across several Craftsman-style homes.

Nothing cures the pain of an arduous walk like MEXICAN food! We capped off our morning with lunch at Chico's Mexican Food at N. Avenue 50 and N. Figueroa Street. It is a great little place and the service and food were awesome.

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 34 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 3,698

Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA


  1. Another amazing walk (hike!) Mt. Washington was truly amazing. I'd like to see more of it. Chicos and my plate of chile verde was the perfect ending. On to the next one!

  2. It is nice to know that at the end of a long walk is FOOD!!!

  3. Robert and Charles so sorry I missed this walk it looks beautiful....I will definately join you for the next walk!!!! Love Sans

  4. I was actually looking for something else when I stumbled upon this blog post but I wanted to tell you that it was awesome! Very interesting! I used to live in that area - grew up there - and never went to that museum. Now I'll have to make a special trip.