Mt. Waterman

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Looking east toward Mt. Baldy from Mt. Waterman

Angeles Crest Highway from the trail to Mt. Waterman

Mt. Waterman

      • Location:  Angeles National Forest.  From I-210 in La Canada, take the Angeles Crest Highway (route 2) northeast for 34 miles, just past Cloudburst Summit.  Right before the Buckhorn sign, park either on the left side of the road in a large turnout or a .  Park in the turnout on the left side of the road, or on the right if you have room.  From Highway 138, take the Angeles Crest Highway west for 30 miles.  A United States Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year) is required for parking here. Click here to purchase.
      • Agency: Angeles National Forest
      • Distance:  6 miles
      • Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
      • Suggested time: 3 hours
      • Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Altitude,  elevation gain)
      • Best season: April – November
      • USGS topo map: Waterman Mountian
      • Recommended gear:  insect repellent; sun hat
      • Recommended guidebook: California Hiking
      • More information: here
      • Rating: 8

Mt. Waterman is perhaps best known as a skiing destination, but it’s also popular among hikers. The route from Buckhorn is a scenic, moderately challenging hike that includes views of the high desert, the Los Angeles basin, and if the weather is clear, San Jacinto and the ocean.

From the road, look for a gray metal sign and a trail beyond it. Head uphill, paralleling the road for the first half mile or so. You cross a dirt service road and continue working your way along a north-facing ridge.

After about a mile, you reach a sharp turn to the right. You pass by the upper end of a ski lift,and a clearing where you get nice views to the southeast. The trail continues its moderate ascent through a forest of pines, cedars and firs. You make a few switchbacks and come to a junction (2 miles.) Head right on the trail signed for the summit; it says 3/4 of a mile but it’s closer to a full mile.

You ascend to a ridge line, where you get a glimpse of the high desert across the mountains. After half a mile, you reach a saddle and descend briefly. Look for an unsigned trail branching up to the left, heading uphill. A short but steep ascent brings you to Waterman’s summit.

The summit is flat, with three groups of boulders representing the high points. The easternmost is the first one at which you arrive, and it provides the best views. You can see Mt. Baldy its neighbors to the east; Old Saddleback to the suoth, and more. The trail continues toward the middle rock pile, which is the tallest, and the westernmost, on which the summit marker and register can be found. The trees somewhat obscure the views, but you can still get nice vistas to the south and west, including Mt. Wilson, the Hollywood Hills, and more. None of the rock piles are particularly difficult to climb, but caution should still be taken.   When you’re done enjoying the view, retrace your steps to Buckhorn, or, if you’ve arranged a shuttle, you can continue west from the junction to the Mt. Waterman Trail.  You can also do it as a loop hike by returning on the service road, as described here.

Text and photography copyright 2012 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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