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Walk 101 of L.A.'s Public Staircases this Weekend at The Big Parade

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At last year's Big Parade (more photos here) | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

The nooks and crannies of Los Angeles are some of the most fulfilling discoveries. From the quiet walkstreets of Venice to the staircases of Hollywood Heights. It doesn't make up for the fact that Los Angeles is park poor per capita (we rank #10 out of big cities), but as the New York Times framed it this weekend, the most popular gym in Los Angeles is the city itself.

"Its mild climate, the lack of parks in its more dense areas and the propensity here to treat fitness a bit like performance art combine to make Los Angeles a municipal force in the art of improvised exercise," noted the Times' Jennifer Steinhauer. "From the wealthy neighborhoods of Brentwood, where a traffic median is used as a track, to tiny parks in low-income neighborhoods downtown, where picnic benches are used for bench presses, the city often looks like one giant outdoor gym."

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One of the best ways to experience this ad hoc gym is with Dan Koeppel. For the second year, he's organized one of the most fun and fitness-enducing weekends you can have in this city. The Big Parade, which begins this Saturday, is a two-day 35-mile walk that will have you climb up and down 101 public stairways between downtown's Angel Flight and the Hollywood Sign.

Koeppel says the start and end points remain the same as last year, but the route has changed to be shorter (last year it was 21 miles a day instead of 17.5) to help accommodate more people.

While many will see this as an opportunity to get some exercise and see parts of the city unknown to them, it's more than for Koeppel. "The great thing about the Big Parade is that this is really a walk with your neighbors," he told LAist. "It's something we don't do enough of in L.A. That's why the Big Parade is there: it's not to cover miles, but make it easy and doable... That's the essence of what I want it to be."

On Wednesday, the map and time points will be released so people can plan where they will join and depart the group as only handful of urban adventurers are hardcore enough to do the full route all weekend long. And when we say all weekend, it's all weekend. The walk starts Saturday at 8 a.m. and will likely last through sunset on Sunday. But Koeppel reminds us it's not about making all the way through. "It's not a marathon. It's a combination of many walks, short and long."

- Report from Last Year's Big Parade
- Walking the Hollywoodland Staircases