After Leimert Boulevard crosses Dimond Canyon, it enters a neighborhood of twisty little streets climbing the hills. The Oakmore Highlands, developed in the 1920s, were designed to offer homeowners spectacular views but convenient pedestrian access to the streetcar line that ran across the Leimert bridge. Four stairways offer these links and make for a short but steep route with some panoramic vistas across the city.
Start at the small commercial area on Leimert and walk up Arden Place. A green sign tells you when you’ve reached a public stairway. The first set of steps is utilitarian and short, but after crossing Bridgeview Drive, you begin a more serious climb up past steeply terraced yards. The neighbors have made an effort to make the stairs welcoming, with the occasional geranium or seasonal decoration marking their gates.
At the top of this second stair, you find Leimert Boulevard again. Turn and appreciate the view; a sliver of downtown Oakland and the port can be seen through a keyhole in the trees. Turn right on Leimert and look for the next public stair sign, which will be on your left around the sharp curve in the street.
This third set of steps is wooden, with a rustic feel. Be sure to look back again at the top for a panorama of Oakland and the San Francisco hills across the bay. Then turn right on Oakview Drive and walk to the end of the court. The final set of steps descends to your right beneath a heavy canopy of trees. Turning right on Hoover at the bottom of the steps, you have an easy walk downhill to Leimert.
Most of the homes in the Oakmore Highlands neighborhood are in the Mediterranean style, but some have fantastic details — ornate ironwork or Hobbit-style arches over their gates; Storybook touches like portholes in the brickwork.
It’s worth noting that as recently as 10 years ago, these steps were in such bad disrepair, they could hardly be used. The neighborhood took up their cause and persuaded the city to repair them in 2004.
Getting there: The closest bus service is to Park Boulevard, a short walk along Leimert Boulevard to Arden Place. Metered parking is available in the small neighborhood commercial area around Leimert and Arden.
Cool stuff in the neighborhood: Red Boy Pizza and Thai Bistro, at the corner of Arden Place and Leimert Boulevard, offer sit-down dining. Rocky’s Market, near the Leimert bridge, has cold drinks and a small selection of groceries.
More information: About the history of the Oakmore Steps and the neighborhood from the Oakmore Homes Association. Oakland Urban Paths led a five-mile walk that incorporated most of this route. Description and link to a map can be found on Oakland Local.