Hikes Using This Trail
Links To Further Information
Mt. Waterman and the Twin Peaks stand guard over some of the most remote country in the San Gabriel Mountains. The San Gabriel Wilderness Area here and the Sheep Mountain Wilderness Area to the east both have a large area without trails or roads, leaving them mostly undisturbed by a human presence. Both areas have significant populations of Bighorn Sheep due to this remoteness.
The countryside is magnificent here, with Mount Waterman and Twin Peaks towering 4000' above Devils Canyon to the West, 4500' above Bear Creek to the East, and 5000' above San Gabriel River Canyon to the South. Nearly the entire San Gabriels can be seen from atop those peaks. The peaks and most of the slopes below them are covered with Jeffrey and ponderosa pine, with incense cedar at Twin Peaks Saddle.
What better place to take a hike?
The Mt. Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail has two trailheads: Three Points at the western end and near Buckhorn Campground at the eastern end. A number of different hikes are possible using this trail.
This trail is mostly within the San Gabriel Wilderness Area. A Wilderness Permit is not required.
I have not been on these trails for some time, so all of the information below comes from other sources. Worse, the entire trail is not shown on topo maps, so some guesswork is involved for the mileages and altitude gains quoted here. If you have a GPS track for these trails, I'd love to have a copy of it to make this page more accurate.
Maps: Only the portion of the trail from Buckhorn to Mt. Waterman is shown on the 1972 Waterman Mountain USGS 7.5' x 7.5' topo map (see Topozone Map). The 1995 revision shows the Twin Peaks Trail to just beyond the saddles. On the 1995 map, Three Points to Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction is numbered 10W04 and Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Buckhorn Trailhead is 10W05. The entire trail is shown unnumbered on the 1995 Forest Service Angeles National Forest Map (1:126,720).
The entire trail except for the portion from the Waterman - Twin Peaks Saddle to Twin Peaks is shown on Tom Harrison's Angeles High Country Trail Map (1:63,360).
I have drawn the entire trail approximately from Tom Harrison's map and from Schad's description. If you have a GPS track of any part of this trail, please send me a copy and I'll use it to create a more accurate map. The track coordinates of my approximation is available. The trail from Buckhorn to Mount Waterman continues to the top of the ski lift, which provides an alternate route to Mount Waterman from Buckhorn (not shown on the map below). The ski lift may be open on weekends.
Length and Elevation Changes: The tables below give only approximate altitudes for the trail junctions since these are not well-located points. The length and elevation change for trail segments is also approximate since the precise location of the trail is not known. I've assumed that all the trail segments have no altitude gain except for the difference between the end and the beginning altitudes, except for an additional 100' of up and down from the 6550' Waterman - Twin Peak Saddle to Twin Peaks (see elevations below). This assumption seems reasonable, judging from the maps and descriptions.
Mileage Source Harrison Schad Robinson Topo! Other Three Points to Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction 4.7 960 4.7 4.3 5 4.6 5; 6 Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction 1.0 880 1.0 1.4 (3/4) 1.4 1.6 Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction to Mount Waterman 0.7 278 0.7 0.7 1 1/4 0.6 0.75 Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction to Buckhorn Trailhead 1.9 -1000 1.9 2.1 1 3/4 1.6 Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Twin Peaks ~2.1 +1311/-430 -- (1.7) (2) 1.9 2; 3
Mileage Source Harrison Schad Robinson Topo! Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Waterman / Twin Peaks Saddle 1 0.8 -330 0.8 -- 1 0.6 Waterman / Twin Peaks Saddle 1 to Twin Peaks ~1.3 +1311/-100 -- -- (1) 1.2
Notes on the mileages:
- I used Tom Harrison's mileages when available since he claims to "hike trails with a measuring wheel".
- For the Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Twin Peaks, I used Harrison's mileage for the first part to the Saddle, and then added the Topo! measurements from the Saddle to the Peak, inflated a bit to partially correct for the usual underestimation for such trails.
- For Schad and Robinson, mileages in parentheses were derived from total trip mileages by subtracting mileages quoted for other parts of the trip.
- Robinson gives 2 miles for the distance from Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Mount Waterman, compared to my adopted 1.7 miles.
- George Aumann told me 0.75 miles for the distance from Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction to Mount Waterman, close to the 0.7 given by Harrison.
- The Forest Service webpage gives 6 miles for the distance from Three Points to the Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction.
- Christopher Brennen gives 2 miles for the distance from Buckhorn to Waterman Mountain Junction, and 1.6 miles between the two trail junctions.
- Russell Bell gives 5 miles for the distance from Three Points to the Twin Peaks Trail Junction, 3 miles from there to Twin Peaks and 2 miles from there to Mount Waterman.
Elevations of Selected Points:
Location Elevation (feet) Three Points ~5920 Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction ~6880 Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction ~7760 Mount Waterman 8038 Buckhorn Trailhead 6760 Waterman / Twin Peaks Saddle 1 ~6550 High Point Between Saddle 1 and 2 ~6680 Waterman / Twin Peaks Saddle 2 ~6580 Twin Peaks (East) 7761
Season: June to October.
Trailheads and directions to trailheads:
Three Points (~5920'): at mile marker 52.80 of the Angeles Crest Highway.
Just west of Buckhorn Campground (~6760'): at mile marker 58.00 of the Angeles Crest Highway.
See also Angeles Crest Highway Road Log.
A car shuttle between the two trailheads is 5.2 miles, taking about 9 minutes.
George Aumann reports on 4/15/00:
- Three Points to Mt. Waterman: Very Good. No snow. The junction with the Waterman trail coming from Buckhorn is well marked.
- Buckhorn to Mt. Waterman: Good, still covered with 2 feet of snow in places.
The Waterman trail is much more heavily used than the Twin Peaks Trail. Schad (1991) reports that the summit register on East Twin Peaks is signed by over 100 people per year, whereas the register on West Twin Peaks is signed only by about a dozen. As a consequence, the Twin Peaks Trail is more primitive, and becomes only a faint footpath beyond the Saddle.
Trail Maintenance: ??
History: The mountain was named "Lady Waterman" for Liz Waterman, in 1889. The "Lady" part got dropped later.
The Forest Service's:
Christopher Brennen's Upper Devils Canyon describes the route from Buckhorn to Twin Peaks Saddle. Don't try the rest of his trip unless you are prepared for it!
- Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County, Jerry Schad, 1991:
- Area A-10, Trip 4: Mount Waterman Trail, p. 223.
- Area A-10, Trip 5: Waterman Mountain - Twin Peaks, p. 224.
- Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels, John W. Robinson, 1998:
Hikes Using This Trail
Season Name Comments 59 13.2
jun-oct Three Points to Twin Peaks Saddle, Twin Peaks, Mt. Waterman, and Buckhorn Robinson, p. 117. He states "14 miles, 3700' elevation gain". The Forest Service states "11.8 miles, 3700' elevation gain". 59.1 13.6 2700 jun-oct Three Points to Twin Peaks Saddle and Twin Peaks 59.3 12.8 2200 jun-oct Three Points to Mt. Waterman 60 5.2 1300 jun-oct Buckhorn to Mt. Waterman Robinson, p. 119. He states "6 miles, 1300' gain". The Forest Service states "7 miles, 1300' gain". 60.1 10.0 3650 jun-oct Buckhorn to Twin Peaks 60.2 11.4 3900 jun-oct Buckhorn to Mount Waterman and Twin Peaks Schad, p. 224. He gives "11.8 miles, 4000' gain". 60.3 9.0
jun-oct Mount Waterman Trail: Buckhorn to Three Points Schad, p. 223. He gives "7.8 miles, +1400/-2250' elevation gain/loss".
The references are given in the Trail Description section above.
Links To Further Information
- Mt. Waterman Trail in Adventure 16 Footprints, Winter 1999-2000.
- Charles Hayden's Devils Canyon to Twin Peaks
- Tom Kenney's Alpine Slide, a "near-death experience" in 1995 due to snow.
- Tetsuo Fukuchi's Mt. Waterman/Twin Peaks & part of the Pacific Crest Trail
- Russell Bell has one paragraph on this trail in San Gabriel Crest Trail.
- Tom Kenney's photos of Twin Peaks and the view from it.
- Kevin P. Rauch's photos of Twin Peaks Saddle and Mt. Waterman
- 1998 San Gabriel Wilderness Fishing Trip: "Assault on Fish Fork" contains a photo of the San Gabriel Wilderness from the east, from Jeff Coppens and Steve Schadt.
- Buckhorn to Twin Peaks and Triplet Rocks (940521), by Erik Siering, Bob Sumner and Asher Waxman, from the Desert Peaks Section of the Sierra Club. Triplet Rocks is the rocky outcropping at the end of the prominent rugged ridge extending southeast from Twin Peaks. This is claimed to be "the most remote and also the most difficult peak in the San Gabriel range", 16 miles, 6000'+".
- Winter Sports
- USDA Forest Service Class I Area Information: San Gabriel Wilderness. Visibility measurements here determined that 10% of the time, the maximum visibility was 22 miles or less, half the time it was greater than 63 miles, and 10% of the time, it was 120 miles or more. Unfortunately, no information was given about what year the measurements were taken.
Copyright © 2000-2003 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 16 August 2003.