Visit Dan's Hiking Pages
The sprawling mass of 8,000-foot Waterman Mountain dominates the San Gabriels middle high country. The scenery is simply magnificent. The forest is rich and mature. The quintessential footpath offers one of the best hikes in the Angeles National Forest. The promises of this grand mountain must have been quite alluring to me—it was the first big summit in the San Gabriels I climbed after buying John Robinson’s Trails of the Angeles. But that ascent was 13 years ago so it’s time for a revisit.
Hikemasters hiking group had scheduled a hike to Waterman, I was compelled to join them. I enjoyed my hike with them to Kratka Ridge in June, so a hike to Waterman provides an opportunity to return to the area. We rendezvous at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning at the Highway 2 meeting location in La Canada. After driving about 34 miles up Angeles Crest Highway we arrive at the trailhead at highway marker 58.00, just shy of the Buckhorn Day Use Area.
not realizing it would be the only blooming plant I’d notice all day.
two-day project to remove deadfalls on Twin Peaks Saddle Trail between here and Three Points…so we continued west on the trail. Today we’ll turn right (northeast). After another 10-minute break we continue our accent. The handsome forest is delightful. The trail circles around highpoint 7910 and I ponder if it would make a nice side jaunt. Across the small canyon north I see the upper terminus of ski lift 3. Boulders near the summit of Waterman come into view west.
Immediately beyond is a trail split. To the left is a direct route to the summit. We take the route on the right which takes us in about 7 minutes to a junction at the north side of the summit. There used to be a sign here but now it’s just a post. The topography is gentle and accented with large boulders and stately pines. The wide path straight ahead leads to a tangle of roads and ski runs. We turn left (south) and begin our easy accent to the summit. As we near the broad ridge we veer left. I’m looking for Giant’s Head Rock, which Ray says is along this stretch. I miss it so Ray points it out. I guess I can see a face formed in the huge granite boulder gazing into the southern sky with squinting eyes.
The views here are not stellar because of the trees. The plan is to hike down to the lookout point to the south. So down we climb.
It’s about 100 yards and 100 vertical feet to a gentle saddle then a stone’s throw to the outcropping. We scramble up the huge boulder pile.
. A party of several hikers are there enjoying themselves.
I wish I had some more time for exploring. This route is more of a use path and is much steeper than the circuitous route we took coming, but it’s good and the most direct route to the summit. Seven minutes delivers me to the trail junction. I see no trace of my friends ahead. I pass through the broad saddle and as the trail veers northeast to skirt highpoint 7910’, I’m tempted to climb it. It’s a gentle summit and I could probably descend the other side to rejoin the trail. What they hey, I’m going for it.
It’s a short climb to the first hip but the highpoint is further. Another couple minutes get me to what I think is the highpoint, but there is another outcropping a little further. En route there is a county survey marker dated 1954.
12:45 - End hike. The total round trip was about 6 miles with 1,400 feet in elevation gain.
Epilog - What an enjoyable and satisfying hike. I had forgotten how beautiful this area is. Great weather, blue skies, superb trail, majestic forest, wonderful scenery, commanding vistas, some adventure, and good company. I am always so thankful for the health and opportunity to recreate in these magnificent mountains.
Visit Dan's Hiking Pages