Author Charles Fleming led a group of about 80 people on Stairwalk #40, Santa Monica-Rustic Canyon from his book “Secret Stairs-A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles.” I have done this walk twice and it’s one of my favorites. Rustic Canyon reminds me of the mountains with the pine trees and homes that look like cabins. I never knew about this part of Santa Monica until I did the walk. It’s a little rustic area that is off the beaten path. I don’t think many people know about this area.
Charles did a different version of the walk than what is in the book—he did the walk in reverse, starting at the end and ending up at the beginning. It was easier than I remember and was probably due to the fact that instead of going up most of the stairs, we went down. One set of stairs that Charles did not do was the famous 4th street stairs which is jammed with people exercising and running up and down this 189 step staircase. The reason he skipped this is because it would be very difficult taking a group of 80 people up the very crowded stairs. We did pass by the stairs and everyone was able to see what they were missing. To my knowledge, no one was disappointed that he skipped these stairs. At one time residences were tired of the crowds of people using the stairs, stretching and exercising on the 4th street grass median and wanted to close the stairs. However, the stairs are part of the tsunami escape route and have to remain open in case of an emergency.
After the walk, a couple of my friends and I went to eat at the Soda Jerks on the Santa Monica pier. It’s an old fashioned soda fountain located inside the building where the carousal is. There are about 6 to 8 stools at the counter and soda jerks to serve you ice cream sundaes, milk shakes, and delicious drinks. What a great way to end the stairwalk.