My new puppy JJ is a now a stair climber!
Climbing stairs with JJ is one of the three workouts I’m covering in this post. I’m going to start with my workout at Universal Studios Hollywood, which may seem like déjà vu if you’ve been a long-time reader.
Workout #1: Universal Studios Hollywood
I first wrote about working out at Universal Studios in a 2014 blog post. That post has gone on to be one of my all-time most popular posts, and since some things have changed at the park, I wanted to share a couple new photos.
Don’t worry – the stairs are still there. There are 345 of them, connecting the Upper Lot to the Lower Lot, spread between four big sections. It’s such a long stairway that you can’t photograph it all at once!
The covered part is where the escalators are. They added a fourth escalator a couple years ago, so now there’s two up and two down, instead of one up, one down, and one that switched back and forth over the course of the day.
The other big change is that it’s no longer called the Starway. The escalators and stairs seem to no longer have a name. Instead, the signs just point you towards the Lower Lot or the Upper Lot.
I climbed the stairs five times during my visit to Universal. Four climbs were on an interval (10 minutes to climb and then take the escalators back down), and the fifth climb was after I had ridden a couple rides, since I refuse to ever take the escalators up. That’s 1,725 stairs!
Lots more photos of the Universal Studios stairs in my 2014 post, including my chart of how many steps are in each and every flight.
Workout #2: Six Flags Magic Mountain
I have an annual pass to Universal Studios Hollywood, which makes going there for a stair workout financially viable. (And each visit makes it an even better deal!) I also have an annual pass at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which I have blogged about in the past, but never because I had a stair workout there. (I once took some measurements about how far I walked, though.)
I thought that Magic Mountain wasn’t a viable option for stair training, because there’s no stairway there greater than 40 steps. Turns out I was wrong!
There’s an amphitheater at Six Flags called the Golden Bear Theater. They host concerts there during some evenings, but I’ve never been, and I’ve always assumed it was locked up during the day. On my most recent visit, the gate to the Golden Bear Theater was unlocked and wide open.
I don’t think I was trespassing by exploring the Golden Bear Theater, since it’s located in the park, and I paid to gain entry to the park. I figure if the Six Flags folks didn’t want me in there, they would’ve done a better job sealing it up.
The actual theater has steep aisles and a lot of steps – perfect for a stair workout! There are 73 steps from the front row to the back row. Beyond the back row there are a couple more flights (emergency exits?) that bring the count to 91 steps. For my workout, I did 12 climbs, although I didn’t do all 91 steps during all of them. About half of them ended at 73, because the 73 were covered and cool, and the remaining steps were in the blistering hot sun.
The view of the stage from the top…
…and I climbed onstage to see the view Barbra Streisand, Sonny & Cher, and The Carpenters had when they performed there in the 1970s:
My stair workout lasted about 35 minutes, and then I went on rides. I kept my RunKeeper app on the whole time I was there, pausing it when I went on coasters, and in total I walked 4.2 miles and climbed around 1,000 steps. I can’t wait to climb stairs at the Golden Bear Theater again!
Workout #3: Amir’s Garden (Griffith Park)
Thanks for sticking with me – I know this is a long post! But finally, what you’ve been waiting for… stairs with JJ!
Griffith Park is an enormous, mountainous park in Los Angeles, and I’ve blogged about my hikes there many times: to the Hollywood Sign, to an illegal teahouse, to the Old Zoo, and so on. My friend Nandor told me, a couple years ago, that there was a giant stairway there, too, that leads to Amir’s Garden, and I finally went to check it out.
I had JJ with me, and while I intended to count the stairs, it didn’t happen, because of distractions, like JJ meeting other dogs on the trail. There’s roughly 200, says the internet, and they were made when people building little retaining walls, for each step, to provide footholds and mitigate erosion.
These are some challenging stairs! They’re uneven, narrow, and they snake up the hillside. They remind me a lot of the Culver City Stairs, which are bigger and wider, but similarly handmade.
JJ took to the stairs like a pro, even glancing back at me a couple times as if to say “what’s the hold-up, slowpoke?”
The stairs lead to Amir’s Garden, a beautiful, shady, lush 5-acre hilltop garden that was planted and maintained by a local guy named Amir. There are great views, lots of picnic tables and benches, and if you’re not a fan of steps, there’s a half-mile, stair-free trail that can get you there too.
JJ and I only climbed them once, because we had grander plans to continue hiking past Amir’s Garden and higher into the mountains. We followed the signs to the summit of Mount Hollywood, until the trail ended, and then we went off-roading and made it even higher, before finding a shady area and resting and hydrating.
The views were gorgeous. This picture from the top features three mountain ranges: The Santa Monica Mountains (where we were hiking), the San Gabriel Mountains (in the distance), and the Verdugo Mountains (the closer range in the distance):
On the way down, I let go of JJ’s leash so he could explore a little cave.
Our hike lasted a little over two hours, and we covered 3.9 miles and 1,040 feet elevation gain. I realized after the fact that we must’ve strayed from the path to Mount Hollywood, because we ended up at the summit of Mount Chapel, another prominent peak. Oh well – just another reason for me and JJ to go back!
Keep it up, David!
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