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Best Heart Attack-Inducing Stairs 

Vallejo Steps

Vallejo between Mason and Taylor

Tucked into a verdant slice of Russian Hill above Mason Street, the Vallejo Steps and their pedestrian cargo are easy to miss from a distance. Up close, however, it's impossible not to notice the people wheezing up the 167 stairs like fat tourists at a Mayan temple. The eyes bug. The chests heave. The tickers strain from a merciless assault on the 45-degree slope. Luckily, the fitness-challenged can rest on benches in the petite and manicured Ina Coolbrith Park that clings to the hill. From there, they can admire the world-class view of North Beach, Coit Tower, and the Bay Bridge before continuing their march to the summit. Although the Vallejo Steps may be a good place to see a human carcass fall from the sky, you're far more likely to witness the less sanguinary but equally disturbing spectacle of Lycra-clad maniacs sprinting up and down the hill in the morning. A workout, they call it. We'll stick with the walk, thanks.

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