For a couple of years I watched the construction of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook visitor center and adjacent buildings from my roof deck. At first I was very concerned about the natural line of the hill being destroyed. I have seen too many beautiful hilltops around southern California ruined by construction. And although I am not ever in favor of building anything on the crest of a hill, my fears were somewhat ameliorated when the job was far enough along to see the roofs of the buildings. The visitor center and surrounding edifices look like giant butterflies are resting on the top of the hill. So I guess I can live with it!
Part of the California State Parks system, the overlook opened in April 2009 and since then I’ve visited several times by car and on foot. When showing other people the splendors afforded by the park I drive and park in the lot behind the visitor center ($6). When on my own I go on foot.
The entrance on Jefferson Boulevard is a less than fifteen-minute walk from my home. There are various choices for walking to the top. Several times I have walked up the main road, which is the easiest route, although it is very steep and you have to watch for cars careening down the hill.
Each time I visit I am amazed, and pleased, that so many people have discovered the park and are not merely driving to the top for the view, but are using the steep hills for exercise.
Today I decided to be a little more adventurous: I took the steps. All I can say is I am very glad I took along my third leg, my trusty walking stick. I’m not sure how many steps there are. I believe just before I reached the top there was a plaque with the number 375 on it, but I was so exhausted by then I could be mistaken. It certainly felt more like a thousand!
The part of the hill where the stairway is built is extremely steep and it goes straight up. The steps are uneven and some are so high that because of my various knee and hip injuries I could not have gotten my foot up without the stick. A couple of times I thought about calling 911 to send a rescue helicopter but after catching my breath for a few seconds at various intervals, I persevered to the top.
As I reached the last step two young women were starting their descent. “You are awesome,” one commented. All I could do was laugh and reply this was my first and last attempt up the steps. “No, you have to do it again… you are an inspiration!” she said. The other lady added, “I saw you at the bottom and when I looked back I couldn’t believe how fast you were coming up.” Oh well, flattery goes a l-o-n-g way with me, so maybe I will attempt it again! There is also a steep, but winding trail that works its way up, intersecting the stairs at several locations. So next time I will try that.
The walk up is always worth it as this must be the most fantastic scenery in all of LA (without a helicopter). From the five hundred eleven-foot peak you have a front-row view of downtown and beyond, the mountains, the ocean, and everything in between. It is truly breathtaking.
The visitor center is staffed by friendly volunteers and offers a plethora of information about the area.
And once again I realize how fortunate I am to be able to walk out my front door and enjoy such a smorgasbord of interesting places to walk.
(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)