Urban Hiking: Climb 80 of L.A.'s Public Staircases in 2 Days at The Big Parade

Hikers climb a staircase at the Big Parade 2010

When Dan Koeppel moved to Silver Lake, he found a nearby public staircase from yesteryear to be a great exercise spot. Soon after, he was curious if there were more--there were. "I totally got obsessed with it," he said. And that focus led him to creating routes weaving between neighborhoods and busy arteries that two years ago he went all out and created The Big Parade, a weekend urban hike between downtown Los Angeles and Griffith Park.

By car, that's around 10 miles and maybe 20 minutes, depending on traffic. But for Koeppel's walk, it takes two days with over 80 staircases to climb and several stops, whether it be for lunch, to visit an artist's studio or learn about the history of Olvera Street with a 6th-generation merchant.

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The Beachwood StairsThat's a lot, but Koeppel emphasizes that the event is not a race--"it's a walk with neighbors"--and, more importantly, it is something that people can join and leave at any time. Like a public transit system, he has a timetable where urban adventurers can plan where and when to join and leave the event. "The big difference is the way it's arranged," he explained about this year's route. "The loops are really well defined now... You can end where you started if you just join for a loop."

Those loops are marked in numbered green (start) and red (end) icons on Google mapped routes for each day. There's even a kids loop, themed "California History," in downtown L.A.

For all information on the event, which takes place on May 21st and 22nd, head on over to The Big Parade's website for all the details. And for ease, here are a few helpful links:

Also Worth Noting: The cover story for the June 2011 issue of Los Angeles Magazine is "10 Great Walks." Walk #1? It's a stairway, but on the other side of town. Writer John McKinney takes you to a hardly-known 504-step stairway into Rustic Canyon in the Pacific Palisades area (pg. 84). "By the time you go down and up, you might as well have climbed to the top of a 23-story building," he explains.

The photos on this post by are Flickr user gelatobaby (aka GOOD LA's Alissa Walker). They were used under a Creative Commons License.

Screenshot of the Day One Map

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCETLink's Editor-in-Chief of Blogs, where he oversees website editorial and advises on projects. When he does write, he mostly covers local government, environment, and the outdoors.
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