The Mt. Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail

Trail Parameters
Trail Description
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.

Trail Parameters

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.

map showing waterman / twin peaks trail

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.

Change (feet)
Mileage Source
Three Points to Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction4.79604.74.354.65; 6
Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction1.08801.01.4(3/4)1.41.6
Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction to Mount Waterman0.72780.70.71 1/40.60.75
Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction to Buckhorn Trailhead1.9-10001.92.11 3/41.6
Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Twin Peaks~2.1+1311/-430--(1.7)(2)1.92; 3

Change (feet)
Mileage Source
Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction to Waterman / Twin Peaks Saddle 10.8-3300.8--10.6
Waterman / Twin Peaks Saddle 1 to Twin Peaks~1.3+1311/-100----(1)1.2

Notes on the mileages:

Elevations of Selected Points:

LocationElevation (feet)
Three Points~5920
Waterman / Twin Peaks Trail Junction~6880
Mount Waterman / Waterman Trail Junction~7760
Mount Waterman8038
Buckhorn Trailhead6760
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.

Trail Condition:

George Aumann reports on 4/15/00:

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.

Trail Description

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!

Printed Guidebooks:

Hikes Using This Trail

(1 way)
jun-octThree Points to Twin Peaks Saddle, Twin Peaks, Mt. Waterman, and BuckhornRobinson, p. 117. He states "14 miles, 3700' elevation gain". The Forest Service states "11.8 miles, 3700' elevation gain".
59.113.62700jun-octThree Points to Twin Peaks Saddle and Twin Peaks 
59.312.82200jun-octThree Points to Mt. Waterman 
605.21300jun-octBuckhorn to Mt. WatermanRobinson, p. 119. He states "6 miles, 1300' gain". The Forest Service states "7 miles, 1300' gain".
60.110.03650jun-octBuckhorn to Twin Peaks 
60.211.43900jun-octBuckhorn to Mount Waterman and Twin PeaksSchad, p. 224. He gives "11.8 miles, 4000' gain".
(1 way)
jun-octMount Waterman Trail: Buckhorn to Three PointsSchad, 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

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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.