A hike to Mt Waterman and the Twin Peaks offers rugged and remote beauty, well-groomed trails, panoramic views of the major summits in Angeles National Forest, and an absence of major crowds. This guide shows you how to do the popular 11.5 mile “reverse lollipop” route to Twin Peaks and then back over Mt Waterman, but you can also just do a shorter 5.5 mile hike to Mt Waterman and get a taste of the beauty of the area. If you have the time, I highly recommend the longer hike. It’s a bit of a workout with a lot of up-and-down, but the summit of Twin Peak East is a great one.
Getting to the Mt Waterman & Twin Peaks Trailhead
The good news is that the trailhead is in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t fill up too often. The bad news is that the trailhead is in the middle of nowhere and you have to get there. More precisely, the trailhead is the Buckhorn Day Use Area, which is just about in the middle of Angeles National Forest on the Angeles Crest Highway. Make sure you have a full tank of gas!
This is a tough hike and I’ll use all my normal hiking gear. I usually bring 3L of water and a decent amount of snacks. Trekking poles will help on the steep climb and descent of Twin Peak East. In the winter, expect snowy and icy conditions and plan accordingly.
You can also camp on the summit of Twin Peak East if you want to split this up over a couple of days.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good. Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Mt Waterman & Twin Peaks Trail Maps
There are two “Mt Waterman Trails.” This guide starts from Buckhorn Day Use Area on Waterman Trail #10W05, also known as Mt Waterman Trail #2. It then continues on a stretch of Waterman Trail #10W04, also known as Mt Waterman Trail #1. It can get confusing but the turn-by-turn directions below will point you in the right way. Just a heads up if you’re referring to other maps.
Note that some sections of my GPX don’t match the (incorrect) OSM trails.
I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.
Mt Waterman & Twin Peaks Hike Directions
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If you want to do the shorter 5.5 mile hike to Mt Waterman, skipping Twin Peaks, make the right here and pick up the directions from this intersection several steps below.
For me, this hike is enough on it’s own, but if you feel inspired, there are some other options from the summit.
You can take the small use-trail over to Twin Peaks West. There is a class 3 boulder climb to get to the “summit summit” but you can pretty easily walk to the summit area.
To the east of the summit, up and down several ridges and class 3 climbs, is the “least accessible peak in the San Gabriel mountains,” Triplet Rock. Not something you just decide to do.
If you took the 5.5 mile route to Mt Waterman, pick up the directions below.
If you want to do the popular loop, follow the directions below. You can also make the right at this junction and head back to the last junction, and then back down Mt Waterman Trail #2 to Buckhorn. I think it’s a more scenic option, but it’s not the loop. Again, the directions below are for the loop.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.