Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Walk #20 : Sunset Junction Loop

Distance: 2 miles
Steps: 305
Difficulty: 3.5

"This is a short walk with steep steps, steep hills, and huge views from the mountains to the sea. It's a great workout, concluding with a rewarding plethora of coffee and dessert destinations." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

We were not supposed to do this walk on this day. We didn't know that Los Feliz/Silver Lake was hosting a half-marathon and street closures made our original walk (Glendale Blvd/Silver Lake Blvd) impossible to get to so I chose this one instead. Sunset Blvd was closed but we were able to park easily and get started.
Sunset Junction is a name given to a part of Silver Lake near where Santa Monica Blvd meets Sunset Blvd. The area is widely known for its 'alternative' scene and the massive yearly Sunset Junction street festival. Charles and I frequently dine at some of the local restaurants and every year we make it a point to get some Christmas shopping done here.
I never did see a single runner.

As I said, the area has an alternative vibe to it and you can see some hipsters (Willie and Charles) posing in front of a mural. Charles is wearing his stair walking uniform of the same shorts and his favorite Christopher Street red t-shirt. I assure you that he has many other t-shirts but he almost always wears this and I have no explanation other than to say that it is always clean!

Getting started.

This area has great view of the Franklin Hills area and the Griffith Observatory.

We soon started to climb and found our first staircase; an easy 19-steps which are part of the sidewalk.

I wish they were all so short!

After a short climb we found our first 'big one' which had 92 steps without a break.
We didn't have much time to recover before the next staircase; all we did was cross the street to access the next one. We always complain when we see these big staircases but there's always a sense of accomplishment every time we conquer one. We haven't lost any walkers - yet.

This one was a killer - 154 steps. It was also very interesting as this was a walk street and the only way in or out of the homes on the right side was via the staircase. We always joke about the mail carriers and furniture, appliance delivery people having to navigate this. While it does bring privacy and great views, I don't think a walk street would work for me; especially if I'm in the middle of it.

We crossed the street and continued our ascent. It was a combination of stairs and walkways and seemed to go on forever.

When we finally reached the top we were really high up above Silver Lake and came upon a massive property with high walls and fences - the Canfield-Moreno estate. It took us quite a while to walk around the perimeter of this famous property. The 22,000 square foot mansion was built in 1925 by the silent movie star Antonio Moreno and his heiress wife Daisy Canfield Danziger. She died 10 years after in an automobile accident.
It is impossible to see any part of the main house but you really get a feel for its
size when you walk and walk and walk and still don't reach the front gate!

This was a side gate with a glimpse of a structure.

A house across the street.

Charles in his Stair Walk uniform.
When we finally reached the corner we came upon some really great homes with views of the Silver Lake reservoir and beyond.

We tried to get a peek at the property but you really can't see much. You can see it better using Google maps. The site has been called 'Crestmount' and is now know as 'The Paramour.' For a time it served as a home for wayward girls and later as a convent for Franciscan nuns before being sold to its current owners. The home is rented out for fundraisers, private events, movie shoots, and famously, as a recording studio for numerous big name musicians and bands.
The road down was steep and this time the estate wall was lined with trees.

Yes, still part of the estate..

We started to head down hill and 'normal'-sized homes.

The car pictured above was a great surprise. The 'TCP' indicates some kind of car service and it was a PRIUS! It was very refreshing to see that it wasn't a big Town Car or big SUV. We all remarked on how this should be the norm but then again, this is the Car Capital so I don't think so.
As we headed downhill the houses became increasingly 'eclectic' and we could see a great variety of styles. Some of them are one hundred years old.

A pedestrian-only block of Crestmont Avenue.

The August House, built in 1913 and one of the oldest in the area.

Tom Mix, an early silent cowboy star lived hear for a time and owned many properties in the area. He once lived in the house pictured above.

As we approached Sunset Boulevard and the start of our walk we were surprsed to find not olnly a community garden but a stairway leading up to the busy street. I have driven by there countless hundreds of times and never noticed it.

The garden with Sunset Blvd. at the top.

Our last staircase lead us back to 'civilization' and the craziness of Sunset Junction. Just ahead of us a man climbed up these steps with a cat in a carrier. At the top he turned left and proceeded to open a storefront - a marijuana dispensary!

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 19 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 11,893

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