Mount Waterman hike Angeles National Forest San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Trail

The round summit of Mount Waterman offers boulders to climb and views to enjoy. The 5.5-mile round trip trail to the top gradually ascends 1,300 feet, passing through a sylvan mixed forest of incense cedars and Jeffrey pines. The trail is an hour’s drive up Angeles Crest Highway from Los Angeles and provides a secluded hiking experience.

The trail begins by running parallel to Angeles Crest Highway, but quickly curves uphill and away from the sounds of passing motorists. The trail is even and hard packed – easy on the feet. And the ascent is gradual – easy on the legs. After 1.25 miles, the soothing trail reaches a ridge east of Mount Waterman and turns right. New views to the south open up beyond the trail.

Mount Waterman
Were it not for the clouds, this photo would look down thousands of feet upon Bear Creek Canyon

After two miles, there is a marked junction in the trail. To the left, Waterman Trail leads toward Twin Peaks. To the right, the ascent continues with a 0.75-mile track to the summit. Head this way toward the 8,038 foot summit, the route remains gradual heading north and west. A split in the trail leaves hikers with two options. A steeper path turns up the mountain to the left to the highest southern end of Waterman. Continuing straight at the V, the trail maintains its gradual course toward the northern side of the summit. Waterman has a large C shaped summit with several rock formations for bouldering.

Climb atop one of the rock piles to gain a fine view down the valley to the east. Then head south toward the marked highpoint of Mount Waterman. Take in the southward view of Twin Peaks and the westward toward Mount Hillyer. From here, return down the steeper path to get back to the V or turn back toward the gradual path. Proceed back down the trail through the marked junction, along the ridge, and down to the road near Buckhorn Campground.

Mount Waterman
A rock formation at the top of Mount Waterman

To extend this expedition, hikers can continue out to Twin Peaks. In the photos above, Twin Peaks was enveloped in clouds, but on a clear day it is said to offers one of the finest views of the San Gabriels. To hike to Twin Peaks bear south at the junction with the summit trail. After one mile, turn left at the next junction. The trail descends to a saddle between the peaks and climbs a steep slope to the top of 7,761-foot eastern summit of Twin Peaks. This adds another 6.2 miles to the round trip distance of the hike.

Far as it is from LA, Mount Waterman’s few visitors are typically those staying at Buckhorn Campground. The drive up the Angeles Crest Highway takes about an hour and is a pleasant trip for a day when you have time to head deeper into the mountains. A shorter trail at the campground heads down to Cooper Canyon Falls, providing another good hike in the area.

To get to the trailhead: From the 210 Freeway in La Cañada Flintridge, head northeast on Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) for 35 miles. Pass the Mount Waterman Ski Area and park in the small lot off the north side of the road, just past mile marker 58. If you reach the entrance for Buckhorn Campground you have gone too far. Hang an adventure pass from your rear-view mirror, cross the road and start up the gated fire road on the south side of the highway. The dirt road is directly across from a small picnic area. After three hundred feet, turn left on Waterman Trail.

Trailhead address: Angeles Crest Highway, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, Pearblossom, CA 93553
Trailhead coordinates: 34.350328, -117.925213 (34° 21′ 01.18″N 117° 55′ 30.76″W)

Use the map below to view the trail and get directions:

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These photos were taken in June of 2009, prior to the Station Fire, which closed the trail for a year and a half. Click to enlarge.

Nearby Trails
Cooper Canyon Angeles hikeCooper Canyon Falls
This 3-mile hike leaves from Buckhorn Campground and visits a short waterfall in an enchanting glen of tall pines.
Winston Ridge and Winston PeakWinston Ridge and Winston Peak
This 4.85-mile partial loop bags a summit and a scenic ridge in the high San Gabriel Mountains.
Mount HillyerMount Hillyer
This 6,215-foot summit can be reach from two trailheads for a 3 to 6.25-mile hike gaining between 575 and 1,000 feet.
Vetter Mountain hikeVetter Mountain
This 3.8 or 4.4-mile hike ascends from Charlton Flats Picnic Area to Vetter Mountain, where there are exceptional 360-degree view from the site of an old fire lookout tower.
Angeles hikeMore trails in the San Gabriel Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.
Similar Trail
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This 8.25-mile round trip hike ascends 2,834 feet to one of the tallest summits in the San Gabriel Mountains and a monument to Lord Baden-Powell, a BSA icon and the founder of the Scout Movement.
baldy loop angeles hikeMount Baldy Loop
This 11.3-mile hike incorporates the Devil’s Backbone and the Baldy Bowl – Ski Hit Trail into one see-all loop.
Santa Anita Canyon angeles hikeSanta Anita Canyon Loop
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Stunt High Trail to Saddle Peak hikeStunt High Trail to Saddle Peak
This 8.2-mile hike combines Stunt High Trail and a section of the Backbone Trail to visit the 6th tallest summit in the Santa Monica Mountains.
buckhorn campgroundBuckhorn Campground
This 38-site campground is an hour drive up the Angeles Crest Highway from LA and a great weekend spot for summer tent camping.
Horse Flats CampHorse Flats Campground
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12 Comments on Mount Waterman in the San Gabriel Mountains

  1. Todd Pratt says:

    Hiked Mt Waterman and Twin Peaks, 15+ mi, 6,000 elev up/down, left 8:15a back 3:45p return hwy 2. Sore but really great double in 1 day. Little tracks, only 3 people all day, no mammals bummer. Wish the wilderness had more animals…Overall very awesome hike and views. Feb 18 2012.

    • Natas Canyon says:

      Oh the animals are there. They don’t always pop out to say hi to humans though. That’s the problem with hiking, is most the animals can smell and hear you from hundreds of yards away. Try finding a hiding rock cropping and post up their for 2-12 hours, and you’ll see something, if you’re in the right places.

  2. Al L says:

    Warning: Groupon is selling the mt waterman coupon again. Consider the following condition before you buy, and there is no refund or exchange.
    1. check how many days Mt. Waterman open during 2011-2012 or end of 2012 ski season, the answer is ZERO.

    2. Groupon or others has fine print say “subject to weather”, they will not responsible if they don’t ever open because the weather condition. if Mt Waterman never open during the season, good luck with the groupon and they will not care.

    3. Since Mt. waterman DO NOT make snow, like there web site said “pray, pray, pray”, beside pray, you can’t do anything, ‘cos money is in there pocket.

    4. If you don’t have a SUV or larger car, make sure your car fit all the ski equipments before you buy groupon, because mt. waterman don’t have equipment rental, you need to bring your own, buy your own, or rent it from sport chalet or else and drive all the way from your rental place to Mt. Waterman. if you forgot to check Mt. Waterman condition before you rent, good luck, after you rent your stuff, bring it to Mt. Waterman, and they said they don’t have enough snow and not open, then all you can do is bring it back to the place you rent, return the equipment and lost 1 day equipment rental fee, then pray.

    5. if you go to school or work like me, busy during week day and maybe some weekend, you should prepare some vacation off, because weather don’t come in every weekend, if they open during weekday, you better take a day off to go, otherwise coupon site said, mt. waterman did open, and you can go during those days. you need to be very flexible on your schedule if you ever buy those coupon, because mt. waterman pray for snow storm, and snow storm not necessary come in holiday or weekend.

    6. Road condition is not so easy to drive like the way to Mt. high or bear mt., bring snow chain all the time in case it snow after you ski.

    7. LA has several very cold storm in the last few weeks, it’s less than 50F or in low 50F during day time, everyone else like mt. high, snow valley, big bear are opened, but Mt. waterman can’t open because they don’t have enough snow, pray, pray and pray.

    Think of these condition before you buy a contract from the coupon site, i am so disappoint because i bought groupon in late fall in 2011, i was never able to use it because they never open, and groupon has been very helpfull to suggest to give it away to someone else and won’t do anything else. i was so excited when i bought it, but after one season, i already give up my hope on my $$$, and bought a ticket to mt. high and big bear during winter break. Good luck everyone.

  3. Liz says:

    yes, but Mt Waterman, is honoring all tickets, vouchers, passes purchased from last year to be valid for this 2012/2013 winter season, because they did not open. Hopefully Mother Nature comes through this year so Mt. Waterman can open.

  4. phyl says:

    was the waterman,buckhorn area, north, damaged in the fire a few years ago? if so, is it recovering well?

  5. Tai-Ning says:

    We are coming down from SF to the LA area to do this wonderful hike next month. What is an “Adventure Pass” and how/where do we obtain one ? Thank you.

    • hikespeak says:

      Hi. An adventure pass is/was needed to visit the national forests in SoCal. Recently, the areas where the adventure pass are required have been reduced. Since it is undeveloped, it is likely that an Adventure Pass is no longer required to park at this trailhead. When you drive up Angeles Crest Highway, you will pass a ranger station where you can stop and check to see if a pass is still needed and purchase one for $5 for the day or $30 for the year. Have a good hike! More info on the Adventure Pass.

      • Tai-Ning says:

        This is very helpful. Thank you very much ! We are really looking forward to this hike, and several others near Malibu. This is a very helpful website. Keep the info coming ! Have a great day.

  6. Jeff says:

    The trail map for this hike (Mt. Waterman) is actually the map for Winston Ridge/Peak. Do you have a map for Mt. Waterman?

  7. rjsoria says:

    I am assuming the gps map located at the bottom of this article is incorrectly linked? I see Waterman Mountain on the South Side of the 2 freeway. Prior research of this trail supports that conclusion. Am I correct?

    • hikespeak says:

      Hi. The location for the map is correct, but there is not currently a GPS track line for the trail to Mount Waterman. Only the location of the trailhead and summit are shown. The line for the trail should be added soon, hopefully.

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