An L.A. Stairway So Secret, Even the 'Secret Stairs' Author Was Unaware

Walking up a staircase in Franklin Hills at this year's Big Parade | Photo by Zach Behrens/KCET

The Big Parade isn't the only way to explore Los Angeles' lovely and nearly-forgotten public stairways. Every month a group of friends, strangers, neighbors with their dogs and city adventurers get together for a walk with Charles Fleming.

If that name sounds familiar, he is the boots-on-the-ground writer who authored the book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles. A bathmophobic he is not, no stairway has gone un-climbed--or so we thought until this weekend when he surprised himself and others.

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From his e-mail event announcement about this week's urban hike:

We will summit the hills of Glassell Park, on routes not in Secret Stairs and never before undertaken by the Secret Stairs walking group. We will take in multiple hidden staircases, enjoy magnificent views, walk a canyon trail, and descend a top secret stair-ladder that not even your devoted stairmaster knew about until this very weekend.

Now he has our attention.

This, of course, is not a staircase in the most traditional sense, but after digging through city maps, Fleming believes the public right-of-way and ladder he found was meant to be a staircase, abandoned at some point in the past.

Are there any more stairways to be re-discovered? "I'm still hunting," he said over the phone. "I believe there are still staircases that I haven't found, but not many."

Fleming's walks are open to anyone. The June event is Sunday, June 5th at 11 a.m. and will last about one hour and a quarter for a distance of 2.5 miles. Flemming advises that it is not "not terribly rigorous or long, but some of the trails are a little tricky." Meet at the Glassell Recreation Center (approximately 3700 N. Verdugo Road).

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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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I did this walk and loved it. I love the book Secret Stairs and have done over 40 walks from the book. You can read about this walk with Charles Fleming and others at my blog