Charles Fleming led his monthly stairwalk near Silver Lake, doing stairwalk #28, Los Angeles River loop, from his book, “Secret Stairs.” I invited a couple of my friends to join me and we arrived to the meeting point just as the group was starting to leave. We were about 10 minutes late due to construction. I haven’t done this walk before and did not have the “Secret Stairs” book with me, so I’m glad we were able to make it. I had wanted to do this walk with a group since Charles mentions in his book that this walk may not be appropriate for everyone–women walking alone, children, or hobo-phobes. However, I only saw one spot where a hobo had camped out and it was on the other side of the fence from where we were walking. I expected to see a lot more trash and hobo camps, but didn’t. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it actually was. A few days earlier, we had triple-digit weather, but when the day of the stairwalk rolled around, it had cooled down a bit. It was a perfect morning and the temperature was just right.
A few minutes into the walk, we crossed the bridge going over the Los Angeles River. The Los Angeles River, aka the LA River, is 48 miles long and goes from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach.
It is home to a variety of birds, fish and ducks, including the Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Black-neck Stilt, Mallard and Muscovy ducks. The LA River has also been featured in various films and TV shows such as Chinatown, Grease, and Transformers, just to name a few. The river’s bed and banks are encased in cement and serve mainly as a flood control channel. Environmental groups and park advocates support removal of the concrete and restoring the river banks back to its natural vegetation and wildlife. However, in the 1930’s, because of flooding and the catastrophic 1938 flood, the banks were encased in the cement. Someone mentioned to me that there are a lot of homes near the river that would be prone to floods if the concrete banks were removed.
After crossing over the bridge, we made our way down the concrete bank to the edge of the river. Once we reached the top of the bank, we crossed over another bridge, eventually coming to a dirt path leading into Sunnynook Drive and turned right onto Valley Brink Rd. There are very nice homes here and I enjoyed discovering a new neighborhood. After an hour, we returned to the Griffith Park-Riverside Tennis Center, which was our starting point. Here Charles pointed out the huge neon letters that spell out “Californian,” which came from the rooftop of the Californian Hotel. The neon letters were removed when the hotel was demolished. There are two identical rooftop signs and one has been refurbished, thanks to actress Diane Keaton, a neon enthusiast, who was offered one of the rooftop signs in exchange for funding the restoration.
This was an easy walk, a level 2, on a scale from 2 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult. The walk took only an hour and I enjoyed every minute of it. I definitely will do it again.