Another beautiful hike off of the Angeles Crest Highway. Truth be known, the route I took was my second choice, but the trail I began on disappeared in front of my eyes and I had to turn back and look for another trail. The trail from Buckhorn to the top of Mount Waterman is easy on the legs as well as the eyes.
My original plan was to park at Three Points junction and hike east to Twin Peaks Saddle along Mount Waterman Trail. I arrived around 6 a.m. From the parking lot I took the Pacific Crest Trail, hiked downhill a few yards and crossed the highway. I continued on the PCT until I reached the junction shown in photo 2. The PCT continues to the left. I took the trail to the right.
I began to climb up and around a nice boulder field.
There are some fine views of nearby peaks. In the foreground I could spot Mount Mooney, Devil Peak and Stony Ridge Observatory which sits between the two. In the back was Mount Wilson, Strawberry Peak and all those other peaks that are always in plain view when I hike here. It was interesting to see two observatories within the same line of sight. Photo 3 – Stony Ridge Observatory Photo 4 – Mount Wilson Observatory
Mount Lawlor, Strawberry Peak, Josephine Peak, etc.
The trail was wide and clear right up to the point where it ran into a downed tree. I got around the tree but could no longer see the trail anywhere. To my eye, it simply disappeared. I looked high and low and continued along the hillside going east, but eventually gave up and headed back down. This was probably about a mile or so from Three Points Junction.
I had some options. I could have continued in either direction on the PCT. Looking at my map those routes seemed less interesting than the short trail up to Mount Waterman from Buckhorn. I got in my car and drove down the road about four or five miles, past the Mount Waterman ski lifts, to the trailhead marked by these signs. I parked right next to highway marker 58. If you see a sign for Buckhorn Day Use Area, you’ve gone a bit too far.
I crossed a dirt road a couple of times but the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. About a mile in I passed a picnic table. There are several attractive small spots located just off the trail which would make good places to rest or eat.
As is typical of this area, the higher you go the more extreme the drop-offs become. But this trail is nice and wide an well-maintained so the drops didn’t really pose any problem for me. Photo 4 – A tree wraps his “arm” around his true love. Together forever.
As I gained in elevation the rocks by the trail became more fantastic and plentiful.
Just a couple miles from Mount Waterman stands Twin Peaks. I’ll get there someday.
Photo 4 – I came to a junction in the trail which, honestly, I would have completely missed were it not for this worn out old sign standing there with the aid of a small of a pile of rocks. The trail heading straight goes to Twin Peaks, I made a sharp right and headed toward the Waterman Summit.
The top of Mount Waterman is a large and basically flat. I went in search of the highest point.
I reached a sign marking the top of Mount Waterman. The area just beyond the sign is amazing – shady with lots of flat rocks to sit on, the perfect place for lunch. There is also a very interesting pile of rocks right in the middle. However, I knew this this sign doesn’t actually mark the true peak of Mount Waterman. I was told by another hiker that the high point is further east just a ways.
Before setting out, I had to explore that big pile of boulders that are near the sign.
Hiking around back revealed this to be a perfect spot to hunker down. There is a small cave providing shelter, a ledge right next to it on which on could warm themselves with a fire and even a natural “sink”. The walls were decorated with colorful lichen.
Just beyond the sign, the trail becomes a dirt road and heads west, then makes a sharp turn to the right (north). The man I spoke with said to turn left at the right turn, but I was unclear whether he meant to turn left instead of right, or turn left after tuning right. Before I turned right on the road I noticed a cairn marking a trail going left (south). I took the trail but it led back to the big pile of rocks by the sign.
I scrambled up the boulders about three quarters of the way, but couldn’t figure out how to get any higher without putting myself in jeopardy. When you go solo, prudence and safety are paramount. Photo 4 – Looking down from the second pile of rocks.
Views north stretched to the Mojave Desert.
Time to head back now. It was all downhill from here.
Photo 2 – Last shot of the day, a close-up on Mount Baldy, still holding on to a bit of snow. Is there a better way to spend the day than disconnecting from life’s troubles and healing your soul by being immersed in nature? (That’s a rhetorical question). Thanks, Mount Waterman.