Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Walk #26: Cove-Loma Vista Loop

Distance: 2.2 miles
Steps: 664
Difficulty: 4
"This is the most arduous and most beautiful of Silver Lake walks, up and down the sides of two hills, with towering views of the reservoir, the Hollywood Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains, and more, as well as some wild architecture and some curious local history." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.
You're probably asking yourself why I began this post with a photo of a half-naked man dressed in Mad Max-type clothing with a Coyote skull and feathers on his head. What does this have to do with Secret Stairs walks? Answer: It was HALLOWEEN in Los Angeles, and not only LA, but Silver Lake - one of my favorite neighborhoods and one which I've written about in several blogposts. The costumed man is David and we met him at the end of our walk as we were waiting for the restaurant to open. It was almost 11am when he pulled up. Willie, Charles, and I were quite surprised to see him dressed like that so early in the morning. He was very friendly and accomodating when I asked if I could take his photo. The sacrifices I make for this blog..
Turns out he was going to have breakfast before going home! He'd been up all night and was going to clean up after eating only to reapply the makeup/bodypaint for the West Hollywood Carnival later that night. He went into great detail in explaining how he put the costume together; he worked on it for 36 hours straight. He was a really nice guy and I was happy as I knew I would have a great LA story to share on my blog: Halloween, Silver Lake, Los Angeles, and stair walks - a perfect Sunday morning.We began our walk near the intersection of Silver Lake Blvd and Glendale Blvd. Charles and I frequent this pocket of LA as he lives nearby in Atwater Village and we often walk around the Silver Lake Reservoir and eat at local restaurants. In the last post I wrote about Sunset Junction, also a part of Silver Lake, but this stretch is more low-key and quiet. We headed west on Glendale Blvd for several blocks before entering a hillside residential area. The other day I wanted to go to a different library (one not in my Burbank neighborhood) and I wanted to go this branch as it's new but I made the mistake of going on a Monday. I forgot that the City of Los Angeles has instituted a policy of Monday closures. Very sad!
Silver Lake branch of City of LA Library.

We passed one of our favorite restaurants - Gingergrass. A great neighborhood Vietnamese joint offering creative food in a non-fussy setting. I love the pork chop they serve here.
Gingergrass, Glendale Blvd.
Later in the walk we would encounter multiple Neutra homes. They are very distinct as you will see and pictured below is the home of the Richard and Dion Neurtra Architects firm. The father (Richard) worked under Frank Lloyd Wright and his son (Dion) took over upon his father's death. As the book says, "together they are responsible for some of Los Angeles' most innovative homes."
Home of the Neutra Architecture firm.
The former home of Le Barcito - a well-known Latino(a) cabaret/drag queen bar.

An apartment building on Glendale Blvd. in Pepto Bismol pink!
Continue up the hill and over and you will end up in Downtown LA in less than 10 minutes.
This area contains some of the steepest streets in the country.

Do you see the ghostly reflections in the window? Oh wait, that's Willie and me!

We turned off Glendale Blvd onto Earl Street. In the distance you will see the Silver Lake Reservoir.

My friend Katrina is an avid reader of this blog and has commented on the mailbox pictures I post. We usually encounter a few interesting ones on the walks.

Before reaching the reservoir we turned into a short street - Neutra Place. Naturally, it was named after the father/son architect team and included several examples of their work. I don't really know how to describe it but this area houses many of their only-in-LA creations which jump out at you if you pay a little attention.

'Tree Tops' by Dion Neutra, 1980.

In the following pictures you will see examples of Neutra-designed homes.

Some of the Neutra-designed structures face the reservoir.
We walked opposite the reservoir for a stretch and then headed up the hill towards Glendale Blvd again by heading up the Cove Avenue steps but not before Willie and Charles marveled over a pomegranate tree - yes a fruit tree. Willie is originally from Paso Robles and Charles, while born in San Francisco, spent many years in the San Luis Obispo area and has roots in Santa Maria and that partly explains his fascination with farming.
The Reservoir as seen from Cove Avenue steps.
Cove Avenue steps - 163 of them with no handrail but very elegant.
The Pomegranate Tree.
As we reached the top we encountered a small yellow house. On the right we saw the nondescript house pictured below; it is said to be the original 1950 meeting place of the Mattachine Society. This groundbreaking group were among the founders of the gay rights movement.

Down the hill and a 19 steps we were soon back on Glendale Blvd.

Another steep street in the neighborhood.
We didn't have to climb this one. They are no longer public and lead to private property.
Charles and I visited Barcelona last summer and this wall and adornments do evoke the style Antonio Gaudi but not at all like the real thing.
A slight walk up steep Loma Vista and we started to climb this 182-stair monster. Luckily, it was broken up into manageable bites. It is a steady climb lined with interesting homes and lined with trees.
A view of Glendale Blvd from the bottom of the stairway.

Once at the top we walked down a delightful walk street before heading downhill. It is very interesting to see such an quiet, little-traveled area smack dab in the middle of the city. There was a ramshackle aspect to this area and I felt as if I was in on a well-kept secret. Very interesting indeed. Not at all what many people think of when they picture Los Angeles. No cul-de-sacs, masterplanned, cookie-cutter homes. Individuality rules here. We walked down a sloping walkway which would lead to 69-step stairway.

This short stairwell provided multiple opportunities to capture the spirit of the place.

At the bottom we encountered yet another stairway- this one included a divider with 97 steps and more unique homes.

Almost at the bottom we saw this barely-standing house.

At the bottom of the walk street (Loma Vista) it was strange to hear the busy Glendale Freeway just across the way. We entered a green, secluded oasis and then were reminded of where we really were. Now we headed back up the hill we just descended but using the Edendale steps -all 134 of them.

A view from the top of the Edendale steps.
I couldn't agree more!
Yes, that would be a chicken!
We could see Glendale Blvd from the top of the steep street - Edendale Place.
Back on Glendale Blvd and a bite at the Red Lion Tavern - a true Silver Lake landmark. This German-themed restaurant has been around for over 50 years and serves up some mean German food and beer. We had a delicious traditional breakfast consisting of sausage, eggs, and delicious traditional potatoes. They have a large beer garden in the back and I have always had a good time there. As I mentioned in the beginning, this is where we met our costumed fellow diner.
Willie and David
Red Lion Tavern
I enjoyed a nice cold beer to celebrate a truly memorable walk.
Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 18 stair walks.
Steps walked to date: 12,557.
Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA


  1. Another great walk (and blog post!) I loved all the history in this one -- the Neutra homes, the house where the Mattachine Society met, and getting to eat German breakfast in the historic Red Lion. David, a bit of Halloween color, was fun too!

  2. my girlfriend and I just took this walk about two weeks ago! so awesome to get a unique peek into LA's history. very detailed blog, great job!