Wandering with Bob Inman on Los Angeles’ Mount Washington


If you walk on the Appalachian Trail long enough you’ll eventually hike to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. It is the tallest mountain in New England and famous for its nasty weather. It once recorded a wind gust at 231mph.

If you take the Los Angeles Metro Gold Line to northeast Los Angeles and get off at the Southwest Museum stop, you can walk to the top of Los Angeles’ Mount Washington. Although it once had a 100mph burst of wind, you should find the weather to be excellent.

This past Saturday the weather was perfect, and I had the opportunity to go on walk led by Bob Inman through the Mount Washington neighborhood. Bob is the authority on urban wandering in Los Angeles. His book, A Guide to the Public Stairways of Los Angeles, is indispensable for the LA stair seeker. He is currently working on new book that will expand the stair guide to include paths and other pedestrian only conveyances.

Saturday’s walk began and ended at the entrance of the Southwest Museum and included both stairs and paths. In addition to being a workout, the walk was informative as Bob provided a narration of the architecture and other tidbits that we passed along on the eight mile route.

Bob leads walks quite often. If you happen to be in LA and would like to walk with Bob, you can find information on his upcoming walks at his book’s Facebook page, “A Guide to the Stairways of Los Angeles.”

Enough with the intros, let’s start the walk.

Here’s where we started our walk. The Southwest Museum is Los Angeles’ oldest museum and is currently in transition. The exhibits are in storage and the building is only open on Saturdays. The tunnel behind this door leads you to an elevator that takes you up to the main building on the side of Mount Washington.

Very soon into the walk we passed this stairway with a recent mural.

When you go through the portal and up the stairs

You’ll notice a small shrine at the landing. Spotting the small details is one of the things that makes wandering special.

As we walked along we passed many interesting homes in all shapes sizes and colors.

We turned onto a street that said it was not a through street.

This is your signal to keep going.

When we reached the end of the street, we kept going.

And found these stairs to descend.

We soon reached Eldred Street. The steepest street in Los Angeles with a 33% grade.

Here’s Bob showing us what we’re in for. The climb starts at the bottom of the hill.

This sign at the bottom of Eldred tells us that it is 6 tenths of mile to the top.

After a nice tough walk up the street, we now have a 195 step stairway to get to the top.

But before climbing the stairs you can see this house on your left.

Here are the stairs. Climbing the stairs was much easier than walking up Eldred.


At the very top of the stairs, you have this house on your right. The details on the houses in the area are amazing.

Once you’re on top the views were outstanding. Depending on what direction you were looking you could see snow capped mountains, downtown LA, the Ocean, or Hollywood. You couldn’t pick a bad view.

The roads on top followed the contour of Mount Washington.

Eventually we reached a road that was no longer a road and is now a path.

We might have spent close to half of the walk on trail. In the book The Gentle Art of Wandering I mentioned how creases and corridors allow you penetrate natural areas. They also allow nature to penetrate the urban core. The mixture of houses and undeveloped land allows for a perfect mix.

Parden the poor quality of this picture. I included it to show how the California Black Walnut thrives on the steep north slopes of the open areas.

There were amzing houses throughout the neighborhood. This house was designed by a famous architect (Harwell Harris) in 1940. The current owners are in the process of restoring the house.


This house just down the street was designed by a sculptor (Jorge Pardo).

Houses weren’t the only things to notice. The plants were incredible.

Does the owner like legs, or is this an upside down version of the movie Motel Hell?


We eventually reached the headquarters of the Self Realization Fellowship. The building was built around 100 years ago as the Mount Washington Hotel. The hotel was even serviced by an incline railroad that was discontinued during World War I.
Self Realization Fellowship took over the property in 1925. The grounds and views are well worth exploring.

Another one of the open areas we walked through. A trail down through the open area starts just at the end of the barrier.

This Cork Oak was along one of the trails we followed.

In addition to the open spaces and wonderful streets, we still had more staircases to climb or descend.


No sooner than finishing one staircase, we had another one waiting for us.

This staircase (Clermont) was a street not for cars and had 153 steps.

The details of houses up and down Mount Washington continued to be outstanding.

Not too far from where we started the walk we passed this house at the bottom of Mount Washington. 100 years ago this was where you bought tickets to ride the incline railway to the Mount Washington Hotel.

Our walk continued with some more ups and downs and ended where we started. Although I was tired, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Thanks Bob! And thanks to all who came along.



  1. David, you cast a discerning eye and write a good narative. Pleasure to meet and talk with you on the walk. Steve

  2. it was great to have you along David. Not often I get to start a walk with “introductions” including that of a man that arrived on the Southwest Chief the same day!

  3. It was nice to meet you, David. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

  4. I love Mt. Washington area. I once went to Halloween party on Eldred street. I had not done that walk yet and wasn’t familiar with all the stairwalks like I am now. I could see in the distance there were stairs. I told my friend that those stairs are probably on the stairwalk and I need to go back during the day. Well, much later when I went back I forgot that it was the stairs I had seen before in the dark.

  5. When is the next walk. i would love to go

  6. Yep.

    Mount Washington is great. Bob Inman is better. Montecito Heights is the best!

  7. Hi, could you keep me posted on upcoming walks? Mike

  8. Pingback: City Walks | Gentle Art of Wandering

  9. Please note new e mail address. Don’t want to miss any wonderful walks with Bob Inman

  10. Looking for next scheduled walk

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