I don’t know how it was for the rest of the country, but the weather in LA this past weekend was fantastic, and what better way to enjoy the sunshine than by stepping out and taking a hike? Inspired by a recent post in LAist about hidden staircases in Hollywood, I recruited two fellow hoofers — Lisa Timmons (of Socialite Life) and Bets — to join me as we explored the nooks and crannies of Beachwood Canyon, an area populated by mansions and hidden paths. The journey covered 2.1 miles of territory and over eight hundred stairs total; so as you can imagine, we worked up quite the appetite (not to mention sweat). Pictures of the adventure, including our delicious post-hike lunch as well as a significant double celebrity interaction (ooooh!) and a car wreck (ahhhh!), after the jump…

The three of us start near the intersection of Beachwood and Belden. There’s a neat country store and café nearby whose collective charm sets the tone for our hike.

Lisa and I pose at our first turn: Woodshire Drive. We would soon be trekking up this unassuming road.

Some of the many vibrant colors we encountered on the walk.

Bets registers minor confusion as we seek out our first hidden staircase. We would soon discover that Bets was the master of sniffing out these structures.

Behold! Our first staircase! At a paltry 124 steps, this would prove to be one of the smaller ascensions of the day.

Up we go through the rugged jungles of Los Angeles.

A view of the Beachwood canopy from midway up the staircase.

A look back at the journey upwards so far.

Bets continues up the never ending staircase.

So many steps…

At last we arrive at the summit. Minor celebrations and declarations of fortitude ensue.

We arrive at a fork in the road. The upper path is taken.

The higher we climb, the more extravagant the houses become. Many of them are tacky recreations of chateaus and castles. I’m impressed by their size. I’m disdainful of their design.

Further ascension.

A scenic outlook offers us a view of the Griffith Park Observatory, which I had only visited for the first time the night prior (despite having been out here in Los Angeles for seven and a half years).

Once again, the road splits up. We were supposed to go up Flagmoor, but thanks to the poor signage, we wound up on Durand. You know how it goes: the ol’ Flagmoor/Durand mixup.

Luckily, our wrong turn afforded us a neat view of the Hollywood sign.

Here’s me posing, mistakenly believing that my palm is just under the Hollywood sign when in fact it is anything but. Illusion FAIL!

After correcting our course, we wound up atop Lake Hollywood, a famous reservoir that I had actually never seen before. Sadly, because of the hazy weather, the visibility and lighting were not ideal.

There’s actually a jogging path that goes all around the lake, but we eschewed it, not wanting to add an additional hour to our walk.

Errant dog.

An aggressive outgrowth of aloe.


More lake.

More dog.

We attempted to do a self-photo of us at the lake, but it was more or less a failure.

Thankfully, a nearby pedestrian rectified the situation.

Walking by yet another faux-chateau. This may have been the same one as before, actually. I was tempted to ring the doorbell and ask for a tour, gaudy designs be damned.

The area that we were sullying with our loud banter and footsteps was actually “Hollywoodland,” a housing community from the ’20s that prompted the erection of what was then the “Hollywoodland” sign. The “land” has since fallen away, thus leaving us with the famous Hollywood Sign. Read more about it here.

There was a surprising amount of citrus growing amongst the houses. Here are some oranges.

Like a foraging animal, Bets perks up at the sight of dangling fruit near the roadside. I, however, have many reservations — based solely on my suspicions that thousands of bugs are most likely burrowing inside the orange.

Surprisingly, there are no bugs inside, but I still refuse to eat the orange, especially because it came from someone else’s property. Unlike my friends, I AM NOT A THIEF.

Eventually, we come upon our next staircase, which we’ll be taking down.

As you can see, the staircase is quite nondescript. We actually walked by it a few times. Had this been the Amazing Race, the producers would have played the cymbal crash of idiocy.

And now it’s time for a dumb photo op.

I totally wreck it by showing too much of my shoulders. Oh well.

And down we go.

This staircase is only 117 steps. The shortest of the day.

Loud rustling in this vegetation caused Bets to jump back in fear. We passed by slowly and with measured steps. It was probably only a lizard, but we acted as if there may have been a coyote ready to pounce. You know, because we’re pussies.

Many people think of Los Angeles as the home to traffic and freeways and urban sprawl, and while all of that is here, what many visitors don’t realize is how lush the city is too. Take for instance this photo. LUSHNESS ABOUNDS!

And here we have a particularly lush cactus.

Yet another staircase. This one is 138 steps and comes with the added pizzaz of a center divider.

A skittish lizard finds itself surrounded by giant, looming humans. It could not have been pleased.

Bets tries to touch / terrorize the reptile, but as it is not keen on human contact, it darts into the bushes, never to be seen again.

Following the great lizard impasse of 2009, Lisa and Bets engage in what I imagine is a fairly uninformed discussion on botany.

From whence we came.

A plaque at the bottom of the staircase commemorating Hollywoodland.

Random wind chimes adorn a tree. I brush them with my hands to inject some much needed whimsy to the proceedings.

At one point, we had to run a gauntlet of dangling flowers. It was a lovely turn of events.

We arrive at our fourth staircase. This one would involve 144 steps upward.

It was pretty long.

At the top we found an enormous lemon tree that in turn grew enormous, scary lemons. They were too far above the street for Bets to get her paws on, but even she conceded that the fruit looked entirely too strange to be consumed.

Group photo.

Across the way, we spotted a house that was shaped like a geodesic dome. An urban igloo, if you will.

Speaking of whimsy, nothing stokes the imagination like a wicker chair dangling from chains.

An overabundance of lilac captures my fancy.

Our next staircase: at 176 steps, it’s the longest of the bunch (just a few shy of the famous 4th Street Stairs of Santa Monica).


Along the way up, we spot a chain link fence that has succumbed to the constant seismic activity of Los Angeles. This does not bode well.

Yet another view of the Hollywood sign at the top.

Through the foliage, we spy the turrets of a fake castle. Derision ensues.

We also come across a lovely lemon tree. Again, no fruits were plucked.

Seriously, these lemons looked perfect. Like non-fuzzy tennis balls.


A stupid poodle — one of many dogs that barked at us. This one annoyed me the most, only because it was a poodle, and I hate poodles.

Remember that castle? Here’s more of it.

I mean, seriously. Is this not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen? The garage is in a TURRET.

Time for our last staircase. 149 steps down.


Well, at the bottom of the staircase, we popped out where we had started, and so our hike came to an end. It had been two hours of trekking around, and by that time, we were starving. Luckily, LAist provided us with yet another dose of inspiration: dumplings in Koreatown! Yes, last week, the site profiled a dumpling shop simply called “Authentic Korean Dumplings” (or Yu Ga Ne) where for $5 one could get a plate of six giant dumplings. How could we resist? We jumped in the car, headed down Western Avenue, and after a few traffic detours and wrong turns, we wound up here:

Behold Authentic Korean Dumplings!

Upon entry, we gaze upon the big menu on the wall. We’re so hungry, we don’t even mind the scary, red C rating given to the restaurant by the Board of Health. Oops!

I excitedly pose with the menu, which promises to sate my raging hunger.

Bets and Lisa are similarly excited for lunch.

The friendly manager/waiter brings over some light panchan (kimchi and pickled radish) as well as the sauce for our dumplings. The pickled radish is surprisingly delicious.

Lisa gets the beef and leek dumplings.

Bets gets the pork and leek dumplings.

And I get the kimchi and rice dumplings. Of course, we all shared all the dumplings together.

Needless to say, the dumplings were delicious. I’m salivating just thinking about them right now. I’m also not sure the photo does justice to how large they were.

A beef dumpling.

A kimchi dumpling. Surprisingly awesome.

Well, after our tasty lunch, the three of us discovered that we were all still kind of hungry and all craving something sweet. This prompted us to head up to Beverly Boulevard to enjoy frozen offerings at…


The three of us ordered brownie and blondie sundaes, took our number (23), and waited impatiently for our dessert to arrive.

Needless to say, it was most certainly worth the wait.

Here’s me enjoying my brownie sundae.

Lisa devours her blondie sundae with fervent gusto.

Bets similarly relishes this most delicious ending to our hike.

Yes, it had been a fine day, but no perfect LA adventure would be complete without some intense traffic.

Turns out there was quite the fender bender up ahead.

Specifically, there had been a car chase through Hollywood that had ended HERE. But what no one had informed us was that there was a possible BOMB in the car and that the bomb squad had been called in to deactivate it. (Note that we are most certainly in the blast radius)

Hahahaha injuries!

Me pointing at a ruined car.

Aforementioned ruined car.

While all this traffic was annoying, truth was that we all didn’t seem to care that much. That’s because we were still enjoying our silly romp at Milk. You see, not only did we get wonderful sundaes, but we also had QUITE the celebrity encounter:


That’s right, we crossed paths with T.R. Knight and a pregnant Ellen Pompeo (a.k.a. The Pomp) at Milk, which truly fulfilled the L.A.-ness of the day. Lisa and I first noticed them (along with another guy they were with, who I recognized but couldn’t place) in line behind us when we ordered our Sundaes. After having confirmed their presence by mumbling “Ellen Pompeo, T.R. Knight” rapidly to each other under our breath, we then headed outside to claim our table in the sun. Bets, however, had not been with us during this celebrity identification moment (she had either repaired to the bathroom or was fixated on some cakes in a display), and as such, she had no idea that we were in the presence of two major television stars. When she finally joined us at the table, we happily informed her of the news, and she done near lost it. You see, earlier that day, Bets had yammered on at length about the Gray’s Anatomy season finale, and being the huge Seattle Grace fan that she is, this particular double Gray’s sighting was a bit overwhelming to her. I thought she might just faint on the sidewalk or at least engage in a minor seizure, but somehow she kept it together. However, Bets couldn’t keep her cool for long. As we neared the end of our amazing sundaes, she announced that she wanted to go say something to the stars before leaving.
Normally, I’d object to such behavior, but given that I had a camera and that Bets was willing to shamelessly interrupt the Pompeo-Knight summit, I knew this was an opportunity that I couldn’t ignore. And so the three of us rose from the table and meandered single-file over to the Gray’s Anatomy region of the sidewalk where Bets lingered over the actors for about five seconds before excusing herself and announcing her fandom. Lisa and I, meanwhile, stood a few feet away so as to both observe from a safe distance AND to separate ourselves from Bets should the situation become entirely too embarrassing.
Well, Bets asked if she could take a picture, and while Ellen and T.R. (we’re on a first name basis now) seemed hesitant for a moment (which is completely understandable as they were eating lunch and in MID CONVERSATION), the two looked at each other and decided why not. They both rose and asked not only for Bets’s name, but mine and Lisa’s too. Soon we were all shaking hands and smiling and laughing, and I must admit, T.R. and Ellen were positively delightful. They were very affable and chatty, but best of all, as they posed with Bets, one of them asked her, “So where are you in from?”
“Uh, Santa Monica,” Bets said, eliciting laughter from everyone. Yes, we were so shameless that we actually looked like tourists. (It didn’t help that Bets has a midwest accent like none other). Anyway, as far as celeb encounters go, this one was certainly quite pleasant, and it added a quaint dollop of star power to our already wonderful day.
Here’s one more shot of the threesome. Probably not the best angle on T.R. Knight, but that’s okay. We approve of his buzz cut; so that makes up for any accidental facial contortions.


And that, my friends, concluded an exciting afternoon in Los Angeles. Hope you all enjoyed the pictures…

22 replies on “SATURDAY IN LOS ANGELES: Hiking, Food, and Ellen Pompeo”

  1. What a lovely day! Thanks for sharing, B.
    T.R. is barely taller than Bets so he’s miniature, right?

  2. that’s awesome B-side! Lovely scenery, yummy food, good company, random wildlife, AND friendly celebs! What a day!

  3. Totally enjoyed your day, pictures and comments. Bravo!
    Now you need to come to San Diego and see OUR lovely lushness!
    (and a few lushes in the right parts of town)
    Thanks for sharing your day.
    Chula Vista

  4. I know one lush in San Diego, and her name rhymes with sunnymoney.
    This looks like the kind of Saturday I tell myself I need to be having as I spend the afternoon napping or drinking. Kudos.

  5. Your caption, “Errant Dog,” reminded me that there is a song with the same name by Ben Folds. It’s on his new CD. I originally just typed album instead of CD. I’m really dating myself with that one.

  6. Excellent! I love how The Pomp is, as per usual, barely tolerating the proceedings.

  7. Bets IS a cutie. And she’s nice too.!
    Hey Jennifer of many #’s – I am not the one who closed down the Sky Bar. Ahem.

  8. HB–That’s because you were already too drunk to join us.
    San Francisco has some really cool urban hiking trails like this too.
    This post demonstrates yet another difference between LA and Atlanta. If you got that close to your neighbors’ houses here, you would get shot with no questions asked (not to mention that whole fruit stealing thing).

  9. It figures that I was in Santa Monica Friday and it was overcast and it was beyond cold (65 degrees) and all mildly earthquakey on Sunday whilst in LA. Apparently, the day to be there was Saturday! I did not plan that well AT ALL.

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post and seeing the pics, as I’ve never been to LA.
    The thing that’s sad, is that seeing the stairs reminded me of an episode of the Hills, where the Monchichi runs up and down some stairs, and totally dismisses his sister Stephanie while she tries to talk to him.
    More Korean dumplings and less Monchichi in my mind please!!!

  11. Loved the pictures. Those steps were beautiful, the scenery lovely, and a celebrity sighting! Not to mention spending the day with two pretty ladies.

  12. I enjoyed your Saturday of climbing stairs although I’m sure I could not do it. Good for Bet’s for being so brave. I’m glad The Pomp and TR were so nice. I feel like I can hear her accent as I too have the Michigan accent.

  13. So, so jealous. Cool stair climbing, celeb sighting, eating yummy food. That same day I was ferrying kids here and there for different events–not as much fun.
    Thank you for taking pics and blogging about it so I can live vicariously through you.
    I had to giggle about the rhyming with sunnymoney.

  14. Nice hike. Some of those stairs had a decidedly “exorcist” feel to them. You see, I live in Phoenix. So the idea of hills, and stairs is forign to us.
    Fun times with the pics. I think the best pictures come out of mistakes.

  15. I found this post to be rather cackalicious – thanks for sharing your adventures! I’m starting to feel a tad nostalgic for living on the West Coast…

  16. Hey, I hope you don’t mind that we used a part of your blog on our Grey’s Anatomy Forum. We’ve linked back to the original blog. Loved the pics of Ellen & TR!

  17. there is an interesting Irony to your Walk.
    In picture number 13, you are actually walking by Ellen Pompeo’s Home.
    Strange but True!

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