Saturday, January 11, 2014

Twin Peaks and Waterman Mountain

Hiked: 1/10/2014
Distance: 12.7 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 7761' (East Twin), 7596' (West Twin), 8038' (Waterman)
Prominence: 1241' (East Twin), 236' (West Twin), 1438' (Waterman)
Elevation Gain: 3877'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 3.10
Round trip time: 7 hours 10 minutes
Recommended water: 128 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Strenuous

Twin Peaks and Waterman are remote areas of the San Gabriel mountains, and I was long intrigued by their rough reputation. Sean Green and I had been talking about doing a hike and we agreed on this one, even though he had done them before, saying that his friend Willie Price was also interested. The early winter had been warm and dry, so I expected minimal snow for this time of year, and was amped to do this hike.

We planned to meet at 9:45 AM at Buckhorn. Before tackling the big hike, I wanted to climb nearby Winston Peak as a warm up. I was up and down Winston Peak in 35 minutes. It was a balmy 48F at the trailhead and would stay warm most of the day. I started with 3 layers and quickly dropped to 2. Sean rocked 1 layer, sandals and no socks. We started up the Waterman Trail and descended to the Twin Peaks Saddle. Heading up steeply toward Twin Peaks East, Sean and Willie started pulling away from me. I'd like to blame it on my overstuffed pack, having done Winston Peak first, or my age, but none of that mattered. They were simply stronger hikers. I caught up with them on Twin Peaks East summit, where we signed the register and went down the other side a little for a view of Triplet Rocks.

Waterman ski area from the Angeles Crest Highway

Start of the Waterman Trail

First view of Twin Peaks East and West

Sean and Willie on the Waterman Trail

Twin Peaks Saddle sign

Heading toward the Twin Peaks East summit

Sean and I on the Twin Peaks East summit boulder

Triplet Rocks

Willie and I looking at the West Twin

We left Twin Peaks East and followed a pretty good use trail toward West. We stopped a couple of times for Willie and Sean to climb some boulder routes. During the boulder breaks, I saved my energy for the summit blocks and rest of the hike. The West summit block was the hardest to climb, but still probably didn't reach class 3. We signed the West register and spent some time taking in the best views of the day. Instead of ascending Twin Peaks East to get back to the use trail, we went cross country back to the saddle, stopping for the toughest boulder climb of the day. There were a couple of sketchy moments as Sean and Willie navigated a boulder with a thin ledge up an exposed route.

Willie climbing a boulder between East and West Twins

Looking back at Twin Peaks East

Sean and Willie on Twin Peaks West

Looking down from the Twin Peaks West summit boulder

On the West summit boulder, Waterman in the background

Taking photos on the West Twin, East Twin in the background

San Gabriel front range and Saddleback rising from the haze in the distance

Picking a route up the boulders

Back at Twin Peaks Saddle, we began the tedious climb up Waterman. We were all running low on water, but I had just enough to make it back to the car. Sean and Willie filled up at the one running stream coming down Waterman. They pulled ahead of me again on this stretch and I would catch up with them on the Waterman summit. When I hit the Waterman summit junction, shadows were creeping into the forest, the wind was picking up, and it was getting colder. I went back to 3 layers and put on my gloves. On the Waterman summit, I added some ear protection. I was only on the summit long enough to grab a few photos and the benchmark on the class 2 summit block. We all were ready to get out of the wind and down quickly, so we decided to skip the trail and head down the main gully, finding a few patches of snow. Before long, we hit an unexpected trail that ran along the gully and eventually hit one of the Waterman ski slopes. We descended that and found a fire road that intersected the main trail near the bottom. It was a fun day that quenched my adventure craving for the week, if not longer.

Big cedar near the saddle

Heading up the Waterman summit trail

Limber(?) pines in fading light on the Waterman summit

Waterman summit block

Waterman benchmark

Ski lifts on Waterman, obviously not open due to lack of snow

Sunset on Angeles Crest Highway


  1. We hiked up Twin Peaks yesterday. I wanted to say thanks for all the trip reports and photos you post. You have created a great source of information.


    1. Gimpilator,

      I'm glad you get some beta from the posts. I strive to provide useful beta for other people considering the same hikes so it's nice to hear from someone now and then. Twin Peaks is one of my favorite areas in the Angeles National Forest.

  2. Note: Need to put this stat out for doing both Twins. Trailhead from Mt Waterman ski lift. 12.2 miles round trip w/ 3,417 ft total gain. This stat is not in any of the sites on Google

  3. Another comment: Iron Hiker states that Twin West's summit boulder "probably didn't reach Class 3" - Well, according to the rating of Class 3, it requires both hands to climb and a fall can be serious. I've done (3) routes up Twin West's summit boulder. 1) an obvious jam crack on the corner that is 7+ ft in length. It requires you to jam your feet 2 to 3 times. A novice probably would not have any experience in jamming techniques here. Class 3+ . 2) just around the corner to the left of jam crack is a mantle move that looks easy but needs the climber to be committed once the action to climb has be initiated. Class 3+ move. 3) 6 ft to the right of jam crack is a 3 ft high rock pedestal that is butting against the summit boulder. You climb up on this pedestal and stand up. The top of the summit is 5 1/2 ft higher than the pedestal so you must put one foot on the face of the summit boulder and mantle up using both hands on the top. Class 3.

    1. tokuonakamoto,

      Thanks for the stats and details on the West summit boulder. I climbed the boulder using your route 3. I remember a short mantle move but was not sure that qualified as class 3. I am far from an expert in these matters. It's always good to have additional information available for future hikers. Appreciated!