The 18th edition of the Great Los Angeles Walk returns on Saturday, November 18, 2023! (Always the Saturday before Thanksgiving.) Details to come.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Great Los Angeles Walk 2021 Frequently Asked Questions

OK, you know the drill by now: Is walking 14 miles even humanly possible? (When you're taking your time on an all-day leisurely stroll, of course!) Can I bike it? (Yes!) Take the Metro? (Of course!) Bring a dog or my kid? (Sure!) Quit half way through? (Whatever you want!) Does it cost money (No!) Are you personally driving me back to my car? (Well, no.)

Here it is, the unofficial Frequently Asked Questions roundup for the GREAT LOS ANGELES WALK 2021! 

1. WHEN/WHERE? Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 -- the Saturday before Thanksgiving, like we do every year. We're meeting at San Gabriel Mission -- specifically, at Plaza de San Gabriel, aka Plaza Park, facing Mission Road.

Before 9 am we'll gather for a pep talk and some info about the day. Then, we're off right at 9 am! THE WALK HAPPENS, RAIN OR SHINE! (We had light rain one year, but it cleared up by mid day.)

2. WHO? We're expecting 300 or so urban hikers this year. We're taking RSVPs at greatlawalk(at)mail(dot)com (yes, "mail," not "gmail"), but RSVPs are not necessary. We'll take anyone who shows up too! Also sign up for our email list if you want future info about the Walk.

3. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? C'mon, it's completely free! But you're on your own when it comes to lunch, dinner, water, etc. So don't forget to plan accordingly.

4. WHAT'S THE PATH? In September 1781, the original settlers of Los Angeles — the 44 mostly Mexican-Indigenous and Black indivdiuals known as Los Pobladores ("the settlers"), set out from the San Gabriel Mission. El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula was then founded, 240 years ago.

Every year, hundreds of Angelenos walk the historic route, from the San Gabriel Mission to El Pueblo Historical Monument, considered the birthplace of Los Angeles, to celebrate our city's birthday. This year, the Great Los Angeles Walk will do the same.

But the Porbladores route is only nine miles — which is a little more than half our usual downtown-to-ocean journey. So once we get to El Pueblo, we'll also walk through downtown Los Angeles' Spring St., Broadway and Grand Ave., in order to spend a bit more time exploring our fine city.

All told, this year's route (see the Google maps link here) will still be the shortest ever in the Great Los Angeles Walk's 16-year history: Just 13 miles. But that's because we think this year everyone will really want to stop and explore both the Pueblo (including Olvera Street) and downtown. Stop inside the Last Bookstore. See how many of the historic movie palaces you can walk in and look at on Broadway. And of course, end our journey by taking Angel's Flight railway down to Grand Central Market for a celebratory meal and drink.

The walk to El Pueblo approximately three hours to complete, which is the perfect time for a lunch break at either Olvera Street or nearby in Chinatown (or, of course, Philippe The Original!)

After that, take another few hours to walk down Spring St. to Olympic, back up Broadway to Grand Park, then up to Disney Hall and Grand Ave., followed by Angel's Flight back down to Grand Central Market.

We strictly walk down sidewalks. As for bathroom breaks along the way, it's up to you to find businesses that will let you go. Coffee shops like Starbucks are usually pretty good for that.

5. WAIT, I DIDN'T GET ALL OF THAT! Don't worry, there will be a PDF you can download to your phone, and handouts with the map!

Several hikers will be Twittering as well -- including us, at @greatlawalk. Check one of those Twitter accounts to figure out where we are.

6. WHAT ABOUT COVID SAFETY? Be vaccinated! (Bring proof on your phone, or carry it with you!) And although we'll be walking outdoors, make sure to have a mask for when you want to venture indoors, grab a meal, etc.

7. WHAT DO WE DO ALONG THE WAY? Explore! The whole excitement of exploring L.A. by foot is to get up close and personal with sites you might normally miss while cruising down the street in your car. And there's a lot to see this year, as we pass through San Gabriel, Alhambra, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Chinatown and Downtown.

8. HOW LONG IS THE HIKE? Around 13 miles -- like I mentioned, the shortest ever for the Great LA Walk.

That's why it's even more IMPORTANT to note: This is not a race. Sure, you can sprint all the way to the end, but where's the fun in that? There's no prize for who gets there first. Instead, take a breath, and join the bulk of us as we leisurely stroll through downtown and stop frequently to take in the sights.

9. WHEN WILL WE GET TO THE END? With so many hikers, people will eventually start to space out. After lunch, it's truly a free-for-all as we explore downtown. But the idea is to finish at Angels Flight around 5.

10. CAN WE BIKE IT? BRING KIDS? PETS? Because you're walking on your own accord -- remember, this is an unofficial gathering of passionate Angelenos walking the streets of our communities -- you can do whatever you want. Use your best judgement, of course. We're not responsible for you.

11. WHAT ABOUT INJURIES? Again, there is no infrastructure to our Walk, so you need to take care of yourself just like you would whenever you walk anywhere. Be careful, stay safe and stick with a group of walkers!

12. WHAT ABOUT LUNCH? We'll be taking a lunch break -- probably around an hour or so -- around the halfway point, near Chinatown and Union Station. You could hit Philippe's The Original or a number of spots in the area. Again, that's up to you. 

13. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WALK IS DONE? We'll take group photos at the end... and then perhaps grab food and drink at Grand Central Market.

14. HOW DO I GET THERE, OR GET HOME? Either plan with a friend and get to downtown early morning, parking one car, then carpool to San Gabriel (where you'll park the other car). OR: Park in San Gabriel, walk to downtown, then eventually take a bus or rideshare back to your car. Check out LA Metro for bus or train times!

15. WHAT SHOULD I WEAR/BRING? Loose, comfy clothing. I'd wear shorts, a t-shirt (and perhaps a sweatshirt, depending on the temperature). Also, tennis shoes... sunglasses... a hat... sunscreen... extra socks... a blister kit (optional, of course -- I haven't brought one, although Band-Aids  are a good idea)... your mask... and most importantly, your phone! Take photos, share on social media, and document your experience.

16. HOW CAN I GET A T-SHIRT? T-shirts are now for sale at Great LA Walk's Spreadshirt page (we don't make any money off of these). But order fast, in order get the shirts in time for the Walk.

17. HOW SHOULD I TRAIN FOR THIS? It's not a marathon, so training isn't really necessary. I suppose you could walk around your neighborhood in the days before hand... but I'd avoid any big gym routine the day before, so you're not sore the day you're hiking. But other than that... I didn't train at all for any of the previous nine walks, and have turned out just fine.

18. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? Why not? There's no special reason, no charity, no protest, no issue we're promoting -- other than a passion for Los Angeles. In 2006, I organized our walk down Wilshire to mark my 10th anniversary in Los Angeles. But it was so much fun, and it was a chance to meet so many new people, that we did it again in 2007, down Pico; in 2008, via Sunset and Santa Monica Blvd.; and in 2009, we hit West Adams as we walked down Adams and Washington to Venice Beach. In 2010, we returned to Wilshire for the fifth walk; in 2011, we hit Hollywood; in 2012, it was Melrose's turn; in 2013, it was all about Sunset Boulevard; in 2014, we hit the Valley via Ventura Boulevard; in 2015, it was Olympic Boulevard; in 2016, we returned to Pico; in 2017, we hit Beverly Boulevard; in 2018, we walked on 6th Street and through Koreatown; in 2019, we went from Arcadia, through Pasadena and Highland Park to downtown; and in 2020, we conducted a socially distanced walk back down Wilshire.

It's the Saturday before Thanksgiving as well, so somehow I don't feel as bad gorging on sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie a few days later. And hey, it'll be a cool conversation piece at your holiday party.

17. CAN I SEND IN PHOTOS? READ A RECAP LATER? Of course! Check out the Monday after the Walk to read a full recap! Send us links to your own recaps, YouTube videos, etc.

19. IMPORTANT: You are walking on your own volition. The Great Los Angeles Walk is just a casual opportunity to walk with other Angelenos through the region. It's not an official organization of any sort -- and is therefore not responsible for your conduct or anything that may happen during your hike. Be careful, and be respectful of others and of your city.

The legalese: As consideration for being allowed to participate in Great LA Walk, all participants are deemed to have released from liability and waived any right to sue its organizers from any and all claims, including claims of negligence, resulting in any physical injury, illness (including death) or economic loss as a result of participating in the Great LA Walk. By participating in a Great LA Walk event, each participant understands that there are risks, such as physical and/or psychological injury, pain, suffering, illness, disfigurement, temporary or permanent disability, death or economic loss. These injuries or outcomes may arise from a participant's or other's actions, inactions or negligence, or the condition of the location(s) or facility (es). Nonetheless, participants assune all known and unknown risks of participation in the Great Los Angeles Walk.

Any more questions? Add 'em below and we'll answer them!

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