Conquering the Stairs

Gyms are great for focused workouts.  Races are challenging and enable one to prove their mettle and tell some good war stories.  But nothing soothes the soul so much as getting a good workout in nature.


Few people know that, in the heart of LA, surrounded by millions of people, is a California State Park that offers a challenging hill climb with a breathtaking scenic reward.  That would be the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, located in Culver City at Jefferson and Hetzler Road.

The 58 acres that make up this park were reclaimed from its oil rig drilling days and saved from becoming yet another housing development.  It’s now home to a number of native plants and animals, and has a very nice nature center and picnic area for public enjoyment.

But the real reason to go there is The Stairs. Over 300 steps take you straight up the 511 foot peak.

These aren’t nice, polite stadium steps.  They’re high, rustic, deeply inset and set at difference distances.  How high?  Some as high as my kneecap – which means you’re not just climbing but tugging up your own weight.  Coming down can be a jarring experience – especially on the knees.

Some folks choose instead the mile-plus long trail that zig-zags its way to the summit.  And still other prefer the smooth payment of Hetzler Road that is open to automotive traffic.  But bragging rights come with conquering the stairs.

All along the way you meet other climbers who’ve stepped aside to catch their breadth.  Besides a rest, it gives you an opportunity to look around and notice how much more you see with every step.   Near the summit is a marker that states with each step your view of the city increases a hundred-fold, and at the top, you’ll find the city, surrounded by cement and sky.

And what a reward when you reach the top!  A 360o view of the LA Basin – Palos Verdes, the San Gabriel Mountains, downtown LA, Hollywood, Malibu, Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.  You take in all in and decide you’re coming back tomorrow to see it all again.



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