Saturday, February 26, 2011

Walk #41 - Pacific Palisades - Castellammare

Distance: 3.2 miles
Steps: 518
Difficulty: 3.5
"The most scenic of all the city's stairwalks, this hillside stroll offers sweeping Pacific views, ocean breezes, and grisly Hollywood film lore. Its handsome hidden staircases are adjacent to the Getty Villa, the Self-Realization Fellowship, and Topanga Park, making it an ideal all-day recreation destination." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.
Yes, it was the middle of winter and there we were, walking on the beach on a clear, perfect, sunny southern California day. This walk had it all: amazing vistas, surprises galore, and great company of course. We even had someone fly out all the way from Germany just to join us. Well, Norbert (from Hamburg) was here visiting one of our regular walkers (Mark).
Norbert and Mark.
From left: Mark, Norbert, Ines, Charles, Jessica, Enrique.

We began our walk on Pacific Coast Highway where Sunset Boulevard meets the sea - at Gladstone's Restaurant. This place has killer views and there is an oceanfront patio that is open to the public - you can bring your own food! I'm sure this has something to do with the fact that the overpriced restaurant sits on County property.
We started with a brief walk on the beach before heading for the hills.

The first stairway straddled the crazy-busy PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and would lead us to another world.

Thirty-five steps and then 40 more took us to Castellammare Drive,Pacific Palisades.
We wallked very briefly on Castellammare before encountering this 69-step stairway which would lead us to Posetano Road.
Castellammare, Posetano (that's how they spell it..), Revello. Yes, many streets in the neighborhood have Italian names and I know of a Capri and Amalfi Drive nearby. While not exactly the Italian coastline this area has many Mediterranean-inspired homes and can hold its own in terms of scenery and beauty.
Just a few minutes after climbing the roar of PCH began to disappear.
Jessica in her pensive pose.
A local teenager told us proudly that his Dad painted this wall.

The Pacific Ocean was apparent at almost every point during this walk.
While this stairway looked inviting, it was not part of our walk and apparently leads to nowhere.
That's me with most of the gang looking on..
We soon found our next stairway which would drop us off on Breve Way. 91-steps with a peek of the ocean.
We were now closer to the ocean but still able to enjoy a view from high above. I can't remember how many times we all paused just to take in the views.
A maritime motif on this gate - how fitting.

We continued along Porto Marina Way until it was time to climb the 86-stairs and head uphill once again. Now we began to see some serious homes.
What people will to try to hold Mother Nature at bay - she usually wins in the end..

Can you see the 'infinity' pool?

Surprising to see a clear ocean-facing lot in this neighborhood; there were houses all around.

The imposing palazzo/villa pictured above is the Villa Leone which dates to 1928. It was built for wool magnate Leon Kauffman and you can see ram motifs on the facade of the manse, in honor of the sheep that made him very rich.

Jessica and Enrique petting the grass.

The Santa Monica Mountains.

This may look like a normal home but it sure was located in a great neighborhood!

It says 'HOME' just in case it's not obvious..
I think this one is a bit - busy?!
Mark & Norbert at one of our most scenic overlooks.

Now that's a view!
That's Santa Monica in the background.
Yes, those are filing cabinets!

That's Enrique peeking through the gap in the wall.

This 122-step staircase had amazing views and we just had to pause before heading down. That's me posing with my handy Secret Stairs guide. It's been put to the test and I am almost done with all 42 walks! It'll be hard to have the book on the shelf and I know it won't gather much dust as we will be repeating.

The house pictured above is called Castillo del Mar and was the home of the actrees Thelma Todd. She appeared in several Marx Brothers films and died at this home under suspicious circumstances in 1935. It was somewhere along this street where we had our 'Star' sighting - Lindsay Crouse. Thanks Mark! He has an eagle-eye for that sort of stuff..
Katrina, this one is extra special.

A cow sculpture on the hill.
Norbert, Mark, and Charles.

The end of the road led us to a dirt path and down to our last staircase. It was strange to see this patch of 'wilderness' so close to PCH.

Our last staircase led to the overpass we took at the start of the walk.

A view from the beach looking towards the hills.

The Interpreters at Third Street Promenade: Ines, Enrique, Jessica, and me.
After our long walk some of us went to lunch at Yankee Doodle at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. A great place to practice the sport of people-watching.
Charles in front of our dining spot.

A view of Third Street Promenade from the Santa Monica Place mall.
Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 5 stair walks. Steps walked to date: 18,832. Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA


  1. After 37 walks I'd be hard pressed to name a favorite -- I have so many now -- but this one would be at the top of the list. What an amazing neighborhood. The people who live there are very lucky indeed. Only a few more walks to go. This has been an incredible project and I'll be sad when it's complete.

  2. Jessica ValenciaMarch 1, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    What happened to the deer?! Great walk, beautiful scenery.

  3. Jessica, there were just so many pics to include!

  4. I loved it! For the next one, I took a couple of the gopher. Let me know if you want to include one! Ines

  5. Beatiful place! And very intersting blog.
    From Argentina.


  6. Natalia, me alegra te gusta el blog. Lastima que estas tan lejos. Mi amiga Ines es Argentina y nos acompana a menudo.

  7. As a relatively new and ever grateful resident of Castellammare, it's always nice to see walkers enjoying our beautiful little piece of paradise. Although our home didn't make the cut (no surprise as it's one of the humbler abodes amongst the majestic homes), I can tell you walked by based on the images. So glad you braved so many of the stairs and took in the view and awesome ocean breezes. Always wondered which home was Ms Todd's - thanks for that bit of info! I knew about her 'speakeasy' on PCH at Porto Marina and her untimely passing, but not where her home actually was located on the hill. In turn, allow me to solve the 'mystery' of the empty lot on Castellammare...the reason there are no homes there (any longer) is due to a waterpipe-induced landslide back in 93 or maybe 94 - not sure of the year as it was before my time. It is a particularly gorgeous vista where some of us now take our lucky pooches to romp. :) Speaking of slides, that lovely wooded footpath you came across on your way back to the beach is also due to a landslide.