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.
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.
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, Angeles National Forest, Pearblossom, CA 93553
Trailhead coordinates: 34.350328, -117.925213 (34° 21′ 01.18″N 117° 55′ 30.76″W)
Use the map below to create your own directions to the trailhead:
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