Photograph by Felipe Dupouy
The 4th Street stairs are famously crowded with social climbers, but Santa Monica’s best staircases are the secret ones across the canyon. Moving inland along Mesa Road, where it intersects West Channel Road, make a quick left onto Sycamore Road. Passing house number 380, climb the staircase hidden on your right to Mesa. Across the street, just past 404, follow the stairs to Upper Mesa Road, where you’ll emerge from deep shade into wide wooded views. Take a left, moving downhill on Mesa. At 491 (a few doors beyond is Harwell Hamilton Harris’s modernist Entenza House), descend the stairs on your right to East Rustic Road. Turn right and follow Rustic as it curves down the canyon. Go right onto Hillside Lane. Just after 419 you’ll find another solitary staircase. Bear left at the top and follow Vance Street to Chautauqua Boulevard. Head downhill for the beach and back to West Channel, where you began.