HANGING IN THE SWING OF THINGS – THE SECRET SWING
My dear readers, please excuse my absence from this platform! You could quite say I took some sort of a hiatus the past two months. I know I brought up this excuse before that life happens – but boy, did my life happen. But I’ll come back to that in a future post. For now, I am going to let you in on a secret gem I recently discovered in the Los Angeles area.
I had four girlfriends from Germany visiting me in mid-October, and we had quite the week of adventure planned. Since I haven’t had a vacation in months, I was very excited to spend some great quality time with my girls and explore what the South of California has to offer. The agenda for our week of fun consisted of some shopping (I mean, we are five women, so this didn’t come as a surprise), beach time, and the occasional day trip up to LA.
I personally was mostly intrigued by this last part of our agenda as it contained the visit to a local sight I had not heard of before – The Secret Swing on top of Elysian Park. Some might not quite understand my excitement to go see a swing, but you must know that I have somewhat of an obsession with places that would make a great addition to my Instagram feed (yes, I am one of those).
So on one particular Thursday in October my girlfriends and I braved the drive during rush hour up to LA for a fun-filled day. Before we embarked on discovering the Secret Swing though we held a pit stop at Beachwood Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, from where we had an amazingly close-up view onto the Hollywood Sign.
After taking the obligatory 500 photos on our phones in the hopes that at least one of them turned out somewhat Instagram-worthy, we continued our sightseeing journey and trekked towards Central Los Angeles.
It only took us a short drive from Beachwood Canyon till we arrived at Elysian Park, where we made sure to change from flip flops into more suitable hiking shoes. We undertook another quick check on Google maps to figure out the best walking route before we started making our way up the hill.
While walking up the winding road towards the top, we encountered a breathtaking view onto the Dodger Stadium, with the high rise buildings of Downtown Los Angeles in the background. I had only seen the stadium on TV before, so this was another thing I could cross off my LA sights bucket list. We stopped for a bit and soaked in the gorgeous view before we continued our hike up.
Once we reached the top of the hill, we were surrounded by more walking paths, wooden logs, and a big grassy area – but no sighting of the Secret Swing. We made ourselves comfortable on one of the wooden logs and started researching yet again. We looked at reviews, read route descriptions, and dissected pictures to gather hints that could help guide us in the right direction.
It wasn’t until one of my friends took a really close look at one of the photos and noticed that the swing was hanging on a tree that was sprayed in graffiti. That was the clue we needed to know what we had to look out for. Now, my sight of far objects is beyond questionable, so I was of no help and let the others play spy. It didn’t take long until one of them pointed to a small hill across from us.
With some eye squinting, I was eventually able to spot the swing myself, sitting on top of that small hill which we soon would encounter. All five of us made our way down a graveled walkway to a windy street that aligned around the hill. We had to be careful walking along it as there was no sidewalk and cars could come around the corner at any given time.
There were a few opportunities to climb up towards the top of the hill, and our quest now consisted of finding the least challenging one. The hike up was a bit steep and challenging as the hill was quite sandy and therefore a bit slippery, but three of us eventually made it up (two of the girls decided to stay behind). And what can I say, we were being rewarded with a great view over Downtown and parts of the city.
I was quite intimidated by how close the swing was located to a really steep edge, and it took me a deep breath or two until I felt the courage to hop onto that wooden board connected by two strings – but even though I am terrified of heights, it was really cool to swing several meters over a busy freeway with the hills in the background.
So if this post might have made some of you curious to go visit a not populated, very unique sight of Los Angeles, here are some helpful tips you might want to keep in mind before heading out to Elysian Park:
- Definitely wear practical shoes. Depending on where you park it is only a short hike up, but it can be a bit slippery. To have a better grip, I would at least wear some sort of tennis shoes.
- Inform yourself beforehand where the swing is located. The Internet offers several reviews, photos, and routes to this site. If we would have informed us a bit more, we would have known that there is a small parking lot located right next to the swing hill. But even if you park at the bigger parking lot at the bottom of the park it is only going to be a short walk up the first hill (where you are going to be rewarded with a stunning view onto Dodger Stadium).
- Don’t go alone. I don’t mean this for safety reasons rather than for the fact that the swing is hanging up pretty high and you might need help climbing onto it. I couldn’t have made it without the help of my girlfriends.
Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte/ pixabay.com
Anne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as about working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.
If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.