Remember the iconic montage from Rocky II where Sylvester Stallone ends a workout on the staircase in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and everyone cheers him on as he shadow boxes against the rising sun? The American Lung Association wants to help you relive that moment.
On Saturday, April 5, you can be the Rocky Balboa of your own life at the mother of all stair-climbing challenges, the Fight For Air Climb, an event designed to spread awareness about lung cancer and raise funds for research. This year participants will scale the 1,391 steps of downtown L.A.’s Aon Center. With its 850 feet divided into 63 stories, the Aon Center is L.A.’s second tallest skyscraper (the tallest being the U.S. Bank Tower) and offers a tremendous view of the city from the roof deck, which is where stair climbers who finish the race will find themselves. Don’t worry, you can take the elevator back down.
Put on your brightly colored headband and high-tops and pop “Eye of the Tiger” into the tape deck; it’s time to climb stairs for a good cause. If you need a little more training before you step up (see what we did there?), here are four staircases in Los Angeles where you can work on your stamina. We also recommend Charles Fleming’s book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles.
With its 133 steps, the Descanso stairway in Silver Lake is on the lighter end, but you don’t come here just for a workout. Located near the intersection of Vendome and Del Monte, the stairway set the scene for the classic 1932 Laurel and Hardy short film The Music Box, in which the duo plays intrepid movers pushing a piano up the stairway. Hilarity aside, if you’re not working up enough of a sweat take a page from the Laurel and Hardy playbook and add “piano hauling” to your regime.
You may know it as one of the most prestigious and historically significant venues in Los Angeles, but the Hollywood Bowl is actually open to the public most of the time. The venue is part of the county’s park system and during the off-season (and during off-hours in the regular season) you can run up and down the Bowl’s approximately 170 steps. Bring a picnic basket and when your workout is over you can enjoy the rest of the idyllic grounds.
Murphy Ranch Trail
Located in Rustic Canyon next to Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades, the Murphy Ranch Trail offers the avid climber plenty of exercise as well as a history lesson. The staircase has 512 steps and if you start the hike from the bottom of Rustic Canyon, the 3.85-mile trek boasts a 325 feet elevation gain. But that’s not all. Murphy Ranch was built in the 1930s by American Nazi sympathizers waiting for Hitler to take over the world. The compound was raided in the early ’40s by the authorities, but some structures (heavily covered in graffiti), such as the old power station and the machine shed, remain on the site. Bring your camera for this one.
Culver City Stairs
The area surrounding the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook used to be part of the Baldwin Hills Reservoir until the city turned it into a public park in 2009. With its rugged steps (each one made out of recycled concrete) that come in all shapes and sizes, the 715-step staircase leading to the visitor center on the top of the hill isn’t for the faint of heart. But nothing beats the view once you’ve scaled this Westside Everest.