Three Points to Twins Peaks Saddle, Mt. Waterman and Buckhorn Trail is a 5.5 mile point-to-point trail located near Mt Wilson, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Directions from La Canada, CA: Drive about 2 miles past Chilao on the Angeles Crest Highway to Three Points. Three Points is not marked, but is where the Santa Clara Divide Road to Horse Flats leaves the Angeles Crest Highway on your left. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required to be displayed on your vehicle while parked at the trailhead.
Summary: Mostly level with slight gains and losses; fantastic sunset views westward; very good views south; many deadfalls; well defined trail till it fades out at 3.5 miles.
We did this as a late afternoon/sunset/night hike on 3.15.15. The day was quite warm out by the beach and downright sweltering in the Valley, but it was overcast as well. As you start at 5885' and get up over 7000' at one point, this hike is a great escape from days like that in the city. Bring all the water you'll need. No real viable source on the route.
The trail is a pretty interesting day walk along the south face of Waterman Ridge, overlooking Devil's Canyon. The first 1.5 miles or so meander through a burn area from the 2009 Station Fire, so if you're into abstract forms and austere colors, you'll love this. There is no shade on this portion of the trail, and numerous deadfalls (about 15 or so, big ones too) that block the trail although none present any real challenge to passage. Still, this trail is in dire need of chainsaws. As you meander up the west shoulder of Waterman Mountain, you can enjoy views down into the canyon below and out across the stark and rugged San Gabriel Wilderness (now National Monument). You enjoy this view for the vast majority of the hike, except when you trend northward a few times into a couple of deep drainage gullies as you traverse the contour of the ridge. Just as you finish traversing the first major gully, you will notice an abrupt change in ambiance, as the expanse of charred, silvery tree trunks and brittle, decimated chaparral gives way to healthy Jeffrey and ponderosa pines. It's fascinating to ponder what halted the Fire so definitively right there at that place on the ridge. There are a few random fire victims here and there but nothing close to the outright desolation through which you just passed.
As you trend northeast into the second gully, the trail gains some elevation, but just enough to get the blood flowing again. This is a beautiful portion of the hike with distant views framed by forest and rock outcrops. It continues in that fashion as you walk almost due east into the third and last gully before you reach the saddle. Just as you descend a bit into a damp, heavily shaded area, the trail fades out pretty abruptly at the edges of a dense thicket of deep, soggy grass. There were a few signs of tread, both through the thick grass - one staying level on the current elevation and the other descending the hillside, but both fade out again after about 50 yards. Just before reaching this point, we passed a solo hiker on his way out with a wry smirk on his face. Very surprising since the trail was so well defined up to this point.
Although this portion of the hike is navigable in daylight, given our plans we called an audible. We had planned on making it to the saddle for sunset and then night-hiking out, but we didn't plan on off-trail route finding in the dark. After exploring the immediate area for about 20 mins. we couldn't discern a definite trail from either of the potential paths mentioned above. So we decided instead to head off-trail straight up the ridge to a large rock promontory at about 7300', a distance of about .25 mile but quite steep. From that vantage point we had a marvelous seat for the remaining 90 minutes of daylight.
At about 6:40pm we descended back to the trail and began the walk back out, when we were greeted by a spectacular display of alpenglow looking southeast toward the saddle and Twin Peaks. The various shades of purple, pink, and turquoise were invigorating to say the least. Even our ragged faces looked great in that light. From there we broke into a run back around the bend in order to catch the view southwest back up Devil's Canyon - sunset over the western half of the San Gabriel Range, the San Fernando Valley, and the Santa Monica Mountains in the far distance. The cloud layer that sat over us all day had thinned somewhat and it created a surreal frame for the classic SoCal sunset.
The night-hike out is easy and uneventful, but also very pleasant as you have the ambient light of the cities to the south as your guide. We went much of the way in deep dusk before we turned our headlamps on. All in all it's a pretty cool scene for minimal travel and effort.