Sunday, September 28, 2014

Secret Stairs Walk #6-Hermon and Highland Park


The girls and I took a Secret Stairs walk yesterday, as the weather was nice and relatively cool.  As the book says "This is a quirky walk through a quirky part of town-most Angelinos don't even know there is a Hermon-featuring some very secluded staircases and some ancient Los Angles history.

We began this walk near the intersection of Via Marisol and Monterey.  We walked north on Monterey.  There are a mixture of older homes and apartments along the way.


"Hermon is a town let dating from 1903, when a group of Methodists built a church school here.  (The school became Los Angles Pacific College, then became Pacific Christina Preparatory School, and then closed.)"

Arroyo Seco means Dry River and there is a bicycle path
Arroyo Seco
We turn left onto S. Avenue 60 and cross Pasadena Freeway, which is also known as the Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway.  Arroyo Seco means dry river and it is currently a dry river.  Down this same riverbed once ran a wide elevated wooden "cycleway".  Designed to speed bicyclists from Pasadena's Green Hotel to Downtown Los Angeles.  It opened in 1890 and closed shortly after.

We walked along other streets in the area and found our first staircase and some wall/tree art

Arroyo Seco means Dry River and there is a bicycle path

When we got to the top of the staircase, we walked up to Figueroa, but first taking pictures of some wall art.

Wall art on the backs of buildings on Figueroa near Avenue 57

Made our way down Figueroa and turned onto S. Avenue 57 and saw more wall art.

Wall art near Figueroa and Ave. 57
Wall art 

Continued walking down S. Avenue 57  that is lined with freestone walls and older homes.  On the right hand side of the strew is what is called an "urban oasis"La Tierra de la Culebra Park is an open -to the -public garden operated by the non-profit Arts Community Land Activism organization.  The park is built on the ruins of several old homes, features rock walls, terraced rock gardens, tile lined rock pools and some nice shade.

Staircase with graffiti in La Tierra de la Culebra Park
Staircase with graffiti

Snake head rock in park on Secret Stairs walk
Snake head rock

Squirrel in the park on Secret Stairs walk
Squirrel in the park  
Colorful house next to the park on Secret Stairs walk
Colorful house
This house is next door to the park.  Perfect!

We continued along Avenue 57 and crossed back over the Arroyo Seco Parkway.  Hermon Park is on the left, which has tennis courts, play areas, dog runs and public restrooms, which were most needed. After the pit stop, we crossed back across the street and found our next staircase.  At the top we followed a couple more streets and walked by an elementary school and at the end of the street was our next staircase.

Long staircase in Secret Stairs walk
Long staircase
 At the top of the staircase is a sloping walkway and a another short staircase.  The walkway is actually a city block of Pullman Street and might once have served a community of homes higher up the slope, but there are no homes there to serve.  The walkway continues and provides a good view of the arroyo, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Moutains.

View from Secret stairs walk looking at San Gabriel Mountains and valley
At the end of the walkway is another stairway going down.  At the end of the stairway is the base of Walnut Hill and the road below where we were standing is Monterey Rd., which cut through Walnut Hill in 1930 and connected Hermon to the communities of Happy Valley and El Sereno to the south.  To finish this walk, we walked down Monterey Road to the car.

The walk was approximately 3 miles and the difficulty, per the book was relatively easy or 2.5 on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is very easy and 5 is difficult.

This walk was taken from the book "Secret Stairs" by Charles Fleming.


  1. Love the great photos and story. Didn't know about this place.

  2. Thank you Danny! This book has shown me places I did not know existed.