Waterman Mountain Loop Trail

MODERATE 145 reviews
#19 of 196 trails in

Waterman Mountain Loop Trail is a 5.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Mt Wilson, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.6 miles
1341 feet

dogs on leash



mountain biking

nature trips


trail running




wild flowers



Use Buckhorn campground as a starting point. Cross the road, and pass the white gate. After a few feet you will have three options - continue on the dirt road, take a left on a trail or right on a different trail.

5 days ago

Wonderful hike to the top. Four stars because of the descent via the dirt roads. Next time I'll return via the same path up.

24 days ago

Weather was perfect today. Views were amazing! Nice and shaded. I expected to see a lot of people since it’s Memorial Day weekend but only saw 3 people on my way up to the top. Saw a bigger group later in morning. I got here around 8am and there was one other car here. Made it to the top and spent about an hour scrambling up different rocks. The reason I’m only giving 4 stars is bc the second half of the trail (if you decide to do the full loop like I did) is really just a fire road back down. Not very picturesque and zero shade. If I would’ve known that I would’ve just gone back down the same way. But all in all a great hike about an hour outside of LA. Will definitely be back!!!

Side note: watch out for all the jerks in sports cars going 80mph down steep, narrow roads. No joke, saw a guy standing outside his Camaro at one of the turnouts with a jacket that said “In speed we trust” *vomits up a little*

1 month ago

Fist time here. Definitely not my last definitely a hidden gem. For an experienced hike fairly easy hike knocked it out in 2 hours and that was with a 15 min break at the top. Next time definitely adding cooper falls to the day for some extra mileage. Not to many signs but the trail is clear and maintained. Plus the all trails map always comes in handy! Beautiful views from the top even as clouds were engulfing the mountains.

3 months ago

Beautiful trail. I would rate this a more of an easier trail. If your thinking about going anytime soon.. dress WARM. It was 22 degrees in the morning and some grey clouds decided to move towards us making it even colder to the point it started snowing. Was beautiful, but SO cold. We went right at the junction head, but would recommend starting left. There is a fair amount of snow up there.. so be very careful when coming across icy patches. Trekking poles would be a good idea, but micro spikes not needed yet.

4 months ago

Weather was perfect. Trail was easy to follow. Entered at white gate across from Buckhorn Day Use parking then followed sign for Waterman Loop. Came down on fire road to complete the loop. Trail conditions are perfect.

4 months ago

Lovely trail! I would do this again and recommended it! Beautiful views throughout the loop. Some icy patches of snow on the trail today, 01/21/18, but not enough to necessitate micro spikes—just trekking poles. The section from Mt. Waterman to the main trail is not well marked, so check your All Trails map at this point especially so you don’t get lost. Check the forecast and layer up as needed.

5 months ago

Absolutely breathtaking trail. I started to the left, which I think ended up being best - the inclines are very gradual, the best views in my opinion are on this side, and the way down was a consistent fire road decline. Bit slippery on the fire road though; I was glad to have poles.

There is also the opportunity for some fun bouldering if you take the little offshoot route, and the views from that point are spectacular.

My only complaint is that there are a lot of crisscrossing roads, making it hard to know where to go. I used this app to know if I was going the right way, and may have had a hard time in some places otherwise.

The whole thing took me about 2 hours and 45 minutes with some breaks, walking at a moderately fast clip. I will definitely be back and trying the extensions to Mt. Waterman or East Twin Peaks.

5 months ago

Hiked the loop with the extension to East Twin Peaks which made for a total of about 12 miles and nearly 4,000 ft of the elevation gain. We went clockwise starting from the trailhead just east of Buckhorn day use area and ended north of the small parking spot by coming down on the fire road past the ski resort buildings. The Waterman loop is great - picturesque with a few viewpoints on the way up of Baldy etc. after the junction where the trail splits to either continue up to Waterman or head towards Twin Peaks, the trail becomes narrower and a little looser. By the time you descend a bunch to get to the saddle and start the gruelling ascent up, the trail becomes looser still. The entire way up from the saddle to Twin Peaks East is no joke and probably not for the faint of knees lol. Make sure you have hiking shoes with good tread and trekking poles ideally. If not to help you up, definitely will help you get back down safely. It’s ok to scoot in your butt a little too if it helps your knees and you know, not falling off the face of a mountain. The trail may sometimes get a little hard to see so having all trails on is handy. The summit is great though - views and lots of big boulders to take summit pics on and eat lunch. Go slowly back down and at the junction head left to finish the loop. In comparison Mt Waterman might seem a little anti climatic, unless you decide to climb straight up the backside of it like we did lol because we were too lazy to walk .2 miles around but seemed to have enough to go nearly vertical hahah. The walk back down the fire road is not super exciting or easy on the feet after 11 miles but take it easy. The turn off for the short cut trail back to Hwy 2 is easy to miss also, kinda looks like a water drainage path but trust all trails!

6 months ago

This was a beautiful trail! We decided to opt outside on this trail. The trail starts at a white fire road gate across from the Buck Horn day use area that has a few benches and a vault toilet. It was 3.5 miles going up and 3.5 miles coming down a total of 7miles. I noticed a few websites say it’s 5.3 miles total but our trackers said 7miles total. It felt like 7miles total. My suggestion is to start the loop and stay to the left side going up. The left side has a more gradual elevation gain and it was absolutely doable coming down felt steep but I’m glad we hiked down the steep side and didn’t climb up it. It was about a 3hour Hike but very enjoyable!

6 months ago

Loved this hike, very gradual climb up to some fun, easy bouldering

7 months ago

Training hike with 25 lb. backpack. Started from Buckhorn at 4:20pm and returned after dark. Walking down in the dark was easy via the access road. The ski buildings and vehicles were a reminder of civilization, but the first half of the loop is pleasantly secluded.

trail running
7 months ago

Foggy day but Awesome chill day for Running some trails

7 months ago

This is one of my favorite hikes in the San Gabriels. I've hiked this mountain many times, but never this variation. I took the Mt Waterman trail to the top of the ridge, and then took a little side trip East through the Buckhorn Ski Club area. I then continued back up the trail to the summit area. what I love about this variation is that you get to explore the whole mountain, and what a beautiful mountain it is.

9 months ago

This hike was a great workout, had beautiful vistas and the trail wasn’t too crowded. We walked past the white gate but missed the trail off to the left, so we ended up doing this trail counter-clockwise. If you do it this way you walk up fire roads to the top of Mt. Waterman to the ski resort. The road is steep at times but not strenuous. There are beautiful clearings along the way where you can see all the way to the desert floor of Antelope Valley.
At the top of Mt. Waterman there are lots of roads. If I didn’t have the map on my phone I would have gotten lost multiple times. However, as long as you know the general directions you’ll be fine. The road soon turns into a trail and it’s all downhill along beautiful paths to the bottom of the mountain. This way down (the way up for most hikers) is heavily forested and you cross dry streambeds and lots of shaded hillsides. There are beautiful views of Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriel mountains.
I thoroughly enjoyed this hike. Unlike Cooper Canyon trail or Horse Trail nearby this hike is on top of a mountain so you can see forever. My friends and I can’t wait to go back for another hike up here. It was cooler than the previous hikes we’ve done this summer. It was in the 70s and there was a cool breeze most of the hike. You do gain 1200’ elevation on the way up but it’s worth the view.

9 months ago

Loved this trail in the midst of summer (early July). While everywhere was 90+ degrees, it was 60s up here. Beautiful pines landscape and view. Breezes were amazingly cool; I was almost cold at 70% of the hike. Wonderful wildlife. Disc golf course in the middle of the hike near the beautiful lake surrounded by trees!!! We did clockwise following the advice of an earlier reviewer. You get to the disc golf course in the second half - the half near the ski lifts. The landscape is green and grand, you'd forget it's summer. I can almost remember it with snow with all the pines and ski lift. Definitely recommend. Long drive up to the trail head though - takes about an hour.

11 months ago

Nice and beautiful trail really hard in the beginning,going down to fire road, Was really hot. Ending 7 mile.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Great views off the back of the mountain. Definitely go clockwise - doing to fire road up is steep with no shade. Big open meadow area at the summit with plenty of space for a picnic. There's even a frisbee golf course up there.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Good! I went crock wise and a first half trail was good.
Another half was a service road for ski area.
I want to go the twin peaks trail next week.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

This was great. We started with the fire road which, as some others have said, was a bit mediocre. Although, we're glad we did because the payoff was amazing once you reach the summit. Amazing views, and the trail section is a whole lot of fun. Very very clean. At 6 miles, we ran into only two people. Lots of shade and still a bit of snow out in April. Would definitely do again!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dec 23. Super peaceful, and super cold. I went counter clockwise, beginning on the fire road. That part of the hike is kinda eh. Once you hit the trail though, it's really great.

You need an adventure pass—you can buy a day pass for six bucks at the small restaurant 7 miles before the trailhead.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Isolated, moderate difficulty. Trail is fairly easy to follow with the assistance of a GPS. I didn't see a human, just a cat. Strong pine smell and good views. Good shade from the pines, although a midday hike would potentially be hot mid summer. Much cooler here than down the mountain, as you would expect.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

We went up to Mt Waterman to escape the heat, and we weren't disappointed. We took the trail out and back, electing not to complete the loop on the fire roads. The trail was in good shape, and not crowded at all. It was a good summer escape, but it seems like it would be better in the spring.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

I did this trail clockwise in about 2.5 hours and recorded it at 6 miles. The ascent is full of beautiful views and scenery, especially the between the 1 mile mark and the summit. The summit itself has great views, though it's large and flat compared to other summits. The walk down on the fire road wasn't as enjoyable and interesting as the way up, but still nice. Next time I might just do an out-and-back route to the summit to avoid the fire road.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Started late in the day with perfect weather. Decided to park just up from the campground at the unmarked trail head. The hike was great with a good elevation gane did the loop clockwise coming back down on the fire road. Be shure to keep to the right just before the ski lodge to keep on the main road. All together a great hike.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Started late in the day (mid-July), but the weather was perfect. I opted for the trail head at mile marker 58.2 instead of the fire road across from the Buckhorn Day Use Area but the trail crosses the fire road a couple hundred yards in anyway. From the fire road crossing, I followed the loop clockwise. It's a slow steady climb to the summit. Great views especially along the ridge. Near the summit, there's a saddle, which can be deceiving. Follow the trail "3/4 mile" up to the summit to stay on the loop. At the summit, follow the fire road down the hill. When you reach the ski lodge, head SE down the fire road just past the first aid station. It's just shy of 2 miles from the ski lodge back to Buckhorn. A map, compass and a local mountain biker were helpful at navigating the saddle and ski lodge.

Monday, February 08, 2016

I did this hike today with my husband and 2 of our dogs. It was super pretty and covered with the perfect amount of snow. We brought along microspikes just in case but didn't need to use them. The views from some sections of the trail were incredibly beautiful. I definitely felt like we were far away from Los Angeles and we all really enjoyed the day. This is a great trail if you want to get out hiking in some snow but still play it safe. The trail is wide and solid with no steep inclines that we encountered. You'll for sure want trekking poles in the snow, especially as it gets later in the day and the snow softens, and I would absolutely bring along microspikes/crampons/snowshoes. Right now the snow is an OK depth to get through with just a solid pair of hiking boots but a few more inches and I would definitely have used my microspikes (or alternative). Grab some food post hike at Newcomb Ranch for the perfect day out of the city.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

For a relatively quick and moderate but more on the easy side hike so close to Los Angeles I felt completely transported into another land. I've been to Angeles Forest before but not at this elevation. I wanted to get away from LA but have had bad experiences with the trails near Arcadia and Altadena with over crowding, trash, and graffiti. There was none of that on this trail.

The vistas where epic even if you didn't get a full wide view, especially when you get to the top. Beautiful pine trees everywhere. We started on the fire road across the highway from the parking area and picnic area and headed left on the loop after a few yards which puts you on the north facing side of the mountain. Starts uphill from there. We took our small dogs and they loved it. Not too hard of a hike for them either.

Cool little details of our hike was the random picnic table nestled in the trees a little bit into the beginning of the loop, found bear tracks along the path which was exciting, the pine needles at the top of the mountains make a really soft place to sit, and the crazy twisting growth pattern on a lot of the trees.

I want to go back in the spring after the snow melt for sure. I want to see the wildflower and pop up streams.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nice moderate hike with beautiful views. Once is enough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A really enjoyable hike for all, located off of Angeles Crest. I found it by accident a few years ago, looking for no trail in particular... Had to pull over and park when I caught sight of the ski lift.

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