300 Stairways Or Bust: Hiker prepares for urban trek

Long-distance hiker and walker Liz Thomas on the West Avalon Stairway in Echo Park. Photo by Robert Inman

Liz Thomas’ love for hiking and the outdoors has found  her trekking along some nation’s most well known hiking and walking trails, including  the 2,181-mile long Appalachian Trail and the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail.  But on Monday, Thomas,  who is described as an “adventure athlete,”   was walking through Echo Park and Elysian Heights in preparation for an urban trek across the public stairways and streets of Los Angeles.   Monday’s stair climbing was a warm up for her attempt to walk a route that includes 300 stairways from Pasadena to Santa Monica and San Pedro.  The 175-mile route is modeled on the 300-stairway course that Eagle Rock resident Robert Inman and two urban hikers  took about a year ago.

It took Inman’s group  9-1/2 days to complete the journey last year.  Thomas plans to do it in five days. “The idea of a long urban walk in Los Angeles on our public stairways has caught her attention and she is out this way,” said Inman.

Liz Thomas and fellow stairway climbers. Photo by Robert Inman

Inman, who joined Thomas for part of her trek through Elysian Heights on Monday, provided a list of some of the communities and number of stairways that await Thomas:

  • Pasadena and nearby communities: 11 stairways
  • Eagle Rock, Adams Hill, Verdugo Village: 14 stairways
  • Glassell Park-Mt Washington: 18 stairways
  • Highland Park, Garvanza, Hermon 31 stairways
  • Montecito Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno: 26 stairways
  • Downtown, City Terrace, Boyle Heights: 13 stairways
  • Greater Echo Park, Elysian Park area, Solano Canyon, Temple Beaudry  42 stairways
  • Greater Silver Lake 61 stairways
  • Franklin Hills – Los Feliz  21 stairways
  • Hollywood Hills: 27 stairways
  • Westside, Palisades, Santa Monica area    27 stairways
  • South Bay, Palos Verdes, San Pedro        22 stairways

Thomas begins to plan her journey on Thursday. “Keep your eyes open for Liz and welcome her to our magnificent city,” Inman said.


  1. As someone who lives up against one of these stairways, I request that any reader embarking on these stairway tours try to at least keep quiet when it’s Saturday morning and your entire tour group is tromping up the stairs. The noise is really insane sometimes.

  2. Perhaps you shouldn’t live near Public Stairs then. They were built for a reason, to be used by pedestrians.

    • Carey-
      Your comment is absurd. Joey is asking that tour groups respect the neighbors surrounding the stairs in the mornings. That is a perfectly reasonable request. He’s not asking that people not take the stairs or be silent on the stairs or tip toe up the stairs. He’s not threatening to let loose a pack of viscous hounds on Saturday stair climbers, he is simply requesting that people take into account that the group take into account the time of day and the residents and be mindful and neighborly neighbor.

    • carey, sidewalks were also built for a reason, to be used by pedestrians. and i don’t appreciate it when people are yelling at 4am in the morning on the sidewalk outside my house. what should i do? move to a place where there are no sidewalks?

      • As someone who leads alot of stairway walks , I can understand and take these comments to heart. The regular stairwalking groups rarely start before 8:30am or finish after 8:30pm. Speaking not just for myself, the intent is to appreciate the neighborhoods that we pass through and be appreciated by those who live near the stairs and often contribute to their conditions. When we did the 300 last year, we tried to stay hushed and circumspect after it got late. I don’t doubt that there are boot camp types and others who might start earlier and finish later. Hopefully they can use the stairs with more appreciation that the stairs are part of the fabric of a community, not an outdoor gym.

    • Hey Carey,

      I see you are a big fan of stair street hiking, and are a member of the facebook group for stair street advocates. If you enjoy these stairs so much, please respect the people that live on them, the stairs were not made just for hiking, but more so to access the homes along side them. Because the city does not fund any maintenance of the stairs, they would be happy for the abutting property owners to take them into private ownership. I live off of Loma Vista Pl, and as a neighborhood we would like to keep the stairs open to everyone, but we may have to make them private if your walking groups keep on abusing them.

      The stair street advocate group came rampaging onto the stairs a few months ago to do a “clean up” and ended up cutting down a lot of foliage that the actual residents had planted. The way it works (at least for the east facing side of Loma Vista) is that each house maintains the section of stair street in front of them, so please DO NOT take it upon yourselves to walk into our neighborhood and start cutting down whatever you feel need to be cut down.

  3. your conscience @ ep

    I will try not to be so racially bias on this matter, but if twenty seven latinos’ went walking through the Palisades would it not be a problem? I think they would call the cops immediately, hey maybe I am wrong. And furthermore, these stairs were built during an era that there were less cars’ and of means of transportation for those who commute with the (Pacific Eletric, Red Cars), “not for recreational purposes”. I am not at all pleased when I have strangers out my window laughing and giggling making a nuisance, acting like they made some new discovery. It would take them 20 minutes to drive to Angelus Crest. This isn’t a camp site, please tone it down!

    • Yes, yes. Sadly, the tiger hasn’t lost her stripes. The wild imagination that makes everything about race. Never disappoints.

    • Sorry, but I think you’re wrong on the racial-bias charge. Have you ever gone to the Fourth Street Stairs in Santa Monica bordering Pacific Palisades? Plenty of folks tromp up and down those two sets of stairs, and I don’t think the residents are calling the police based on the walkers’ ethnicities. However, I do plan to call the grammar police on your next post; I’m letting you off with a warning today — too many essays to grade.

      • your conscience @ ep

        Maybe the grammar police will shoot me in the face, if they see me at Fourth and San Vicente going towards Chautauqua.

        • @your conscience @ ep, your comments are amazing! Where or how do you get your insight? Do you give classes or teach? If so, I would love to attend!

    • hey maybe you’re wrong… always.

  4. your conscience @ ep

    Someone should have never mentioned subculture, and maybe I wouldn’t have gone there. They started this, it isn’t fun when the rabbit has the gun. Sorry Beanteam, I see you have alot of pride in yours and always come to the defense of your people. Some of us do the same.

    • could you please point to the message where someone, other than yourself, mentions subculture? i can’t find it anywhere. perhaps my subculture are blind.

  5. In case no one noticed there is NO money in the City budget for public staircase repair and maintenance. Even at the height of the real estate bubble there was nothing in the budget to fix what really is a great historic & recreational resource in our communities.

    Perhaps if more attention is drawn to them via books, tours etc, the politicians might devote some money toward the public staircases before the next boom cycle goes bust.

    At least the people using them are walking – not driving!

    • your conscience @ ep

      I am sure that it is only I that uses improper punctuation, cynical school teacher. Correct everyone, like your own as well.

      • I think you’re responding to the wrong person; it seems that you were directing your comment to me, not to Jaded.

  6. Cielo Del Eagle Rock

    I also live next to a public stairway but I dont get too many walking tours, mostly adolescent delinquents drinking 40s and smoking joints.

  7. I respect your request to not walk loudly too and fro on these stairs there fore I shall ride my motorcycle on them with a bear and a juggling clown or vice versa!
    hope this will not wake you in your slumber at 3 in the after noon!

  8. These are public stairs im going to be as loud as i want when i walk them.

    • Yes, because we also have to tolerate assholes in this society. You go ahead and be as rude as you’d like.
      I just hope for your sake you aren’t confronted by someone with your sensibilities… assholes tend to find each other. Never ends pretty.

  9. Congratulations, Liz Thomas. That’s an admirable and creative endeavor. Have a great time!

  10. Awesome. We need to pay more attention to these treasures in our neighborhoods.

  11. Why is everyone so mean to each other in the Eastsider comment section? Isn’t this suppose to be a community blog to bring news to the neighborhood; to, in a sense, bring us together? Why must we all fight after reading every post?

  12. There are staircase guidebooks and maps for the Bay Area. I haven’t seen these for LA. If somebody really wanted to connect to the original purpose of the staircases, a map could show could show the stairs and the bus lines they lead to. Most stairs still connect to transit.

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