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Skim the rim of the rugged San Gabriel Wilderness on the Mount Waterman Trail.

The Mount Waterman Trail traverse across the north rim of the San Gabriel Wilderness provides almost constant views of statuesque pines, yawning chasms, and distant, hazy ridges. The rugged topography of the wilderness area is a refuge for herds of Nelson bighorn sheep, and you might chance upon one or another of these swift, elusive creatures crossing the trail. The hike is one-way, necessitating some kind of transportation arrangement, and involves a total ascent (mostly in the beginning) of 1400 feet, and a total descent of 2250 feet.

The Mount Waterman Trail starts on the south side of Angeles Crest Highway, opposite the Buckhorn trailhead, where you'll find a parking lot and restrooms (mile 58.0 by the highway markers). Three Points trailhead, at the far end of the hike, is located at the intersection of Santa Clara Divide Road, mile 52.8 on Angeles Crest Highway. Cars parked at either end must display a National Forest Adventure Pass. (If you prefer, you can shave some time, distance, and elevation gain from this hike by making use of the Mount Waterman Ski Lift, which is open on summer weekends to cater to hikers and mountain bikers. The lift carries you 900 feet up from Angeles Crest Highway to a point about three-quarters of a mile north of Waterman Mountain's summit, and from there you can navigate toward the Mount Waterman Trail. Note that mountain bikes are not allowed on the trail itself.)

From the Buckhorn end, follow the well-graded foot trail -- not the old road bed paralleling the trail at first -- along a shady slope. After one mile of easy ascent through gorgeous mixed-conifer forest, you come to a saddle overlooking Bear Creek. The trail turns west, follows a viewful ridge, and then ascends on six long switchbacks to a trail junction, 2.1 miles. A trail to Waterman Mountain's summit goes right; you stay left and contour west about one-half mile, then zigzag south down to a second junction, 3.5 miles. Twin Peaks saddle, a spacious spot suitable for camping, lies below to the left. Stay right, and continue west.

The remaining four-plus miles take you gradually downhill (more steep at the very end) along a generally south-facing slope. You wind in and out of broad ravines, either shaded by huge incense cedars and vanilla-scented Jeffrey pines, or exposed to the warm sunshine on chaparral-covered slopes. The older cedar trees are gnarled veterans of past fires. Near the end of the Mount Waterman Trail, you hook up briefly with the Pacific Crest Trail. You swing down to cross Angeles Crest Highway, and climb up on the other side to reach the parking lot at Three Points.

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The Mount Waterman Trail traverse across the north rim of the San Gabriel Wilderness provides almost constant views of statuesque pines, yawning chasms, and distant, hazy ridges. The rugged topography of the wilderness area is a refuge for herds of Nelson bighorn sheep, and you might chance upon one or another of these swift, elusive creatures crossing the trail. The hike is one-way, necessitating some kind of transportation arrangement, and involves a total ascent (mostly in the beginning) of 1400 feet, and a total descent of 2250 feet.

The Mount Waterman Trail starts on the south side of Angeles Crest Highway, opposite the Buckhorn trailhead, where you'll find a parking lot and restrooms (mile 58.0 by the highway markers). Three Points trailhead, at the far end of the hike, is located at the intersection of Santa Clara Divide Road, mile 52.8 on Angeles Crest Highway. Cars parked at either end must display a National Forest Adventure Pass. (If you prefer, you can shave some time, distance, and elevation gain from this hike by making use of the Mount Waterman Ski Lift, which is open on summer weekends to cater to hikers and mountain bikers. The lift carries you 900 feet up from Angeles Crest Highway to a point about three-quarters of a mile north of Waterman Mountain's summit, and from there you can navigate toward the Mount Waterman Trail. Note that mountain bikes are not allowed on the trail itself.)

From the Buckhorn end, follow the well-graded foot trail -- not the old road bed paralleling the trail at first -- along a shady slope. After one mile of easy ascent through gorgeous mixed-conifer forest, you come to a saddle overlooking Bear Creek. The trail turns west, follows a viewful ridge, and then ascends on six long switchbacks to a trail junction, 2.1 miles. A trail to Waterman Mountain's summit goes right; you stay left and contour west about one-half mile, then zigzag south down to a second junction, 3.5 miles. Twin Peaks saddle, a spacious spot suitable for camping, lies below to the left. Stay right, and continue west.

The remaining four-plus miles take you gradually downhill (more steep at the very end) along a generally south-facing slope. You wind in and out of broad ravines, either shaded by huge incense cedars and vanilla-scented Jeffrey pines, or exposed to the warm sunshine on chaparral-covered slopes. The older cedar trees are gnarled veterans of past fires. Near the end of the Mount Waterman Trail, you hook up briefly with the Pacific Crest Trail. You swing down to cross Angeles Crest Highway, and climb up on the other side to reach the parking lot at Three Points.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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