Standing tall in the heart of the San Gabriel Wilderness are two nearly identical peaks which rise impressively above the surrounding canyons and hills. Reaching the tallest summit requires a lot of effort going in and returning. But the run is well worth it especially if one gets a chance to see Nelson bighorn sheep grazing in the meadows or jumping along the steep rocky cliffs.
Adventure pass required for parking at the Buckhorn and 3 Points trailheads. Most of the route is inside of the wilderness. Not recommended if there is snow or ice on the route.
The trail down to Twin Peaks Saddle is not regularly maintained and is rough in places.
This run can be done by going in and returning on the Mt. Waterman Trail #10W05
or by using a car shuttle and returning on the Mt. Waterman Trail #10W04
to the 3 Points trailhead.
From the Buckhorn trailhead, start by following the Mt. Waterman Trail #10W05
for 2 miles climbing up to a trail junction with the Mt. Waterman Trail #10W04
. Continue straight at the junction as the trail heads west then descends through an open forest of Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, incense cedar and white fir down 1 mile to an unsigned junction with the Twin Peaks Saddle Trail #10W04.A
. Make a left turn and follow the trail as it soon crosses a spring which usually has good flowing water except in very dry years. There is a small waterfall just below the trail and in mid summer one can see many lemon lilies and other wildflowers. The trail switchbacks down passing through open area of oaks and yucca and areas shaded by incense cedars, pines and firs.
In less than a mile from the junction, the trail passes through a saddle with a sign then climbs up to a ridge which is the official end of the maintained trail. There is a heliport about 0.2 miles up the ridge to the east but it is no longer maintained (just a bare summit with trees cut down). The trail drops down to a nice valley with meadows and a seasonal spring to the west. This spot makes a fine destination to explore and relax if one does not desire the steep climb to the summit.
The trail soon degrades into a steep path passing around a large upside-down boulder. The climbing gets steeper the higher one goes but it is well shaded by white fir and Jeffrey pine most of the way. After a long, heart-pounding climb, it reaches a saddle between the two summits, then heads east to the higher point. There are many fine places to take a long, cool and well deserved break.
Be careful on the return going down as the slope can be very slippery with gravel over rocks (hiking poles highly recommended). Return the same way or take the trail to 3 Points if a car shuttle has been arranged (this route adds 2 miles but has less gain).
Jeffrey, yellow, sugar and Coulter pines along with incense cedar, white fir and live oaks provide occasional shade along the route. There are springs and meadows where one might see deer and bighorn sheep grazing early or late in the day. Watch for rattlesnakes.