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Three Corner Rock

Hiked:   January 25, 2003
Revisited:   July 4, 2003
Length:   4.4 Miles Out-and-Back
Elevation Gain:   1200 feet
USGS Quad:    Beacon Rock
GPS Coordinates:    N: 45.7325
W: 122.04778
Photo Gallery:   Three Corner Rock Photos

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To Reach (From Portland):

Take I-84 eastbound approximately 40 miles to Cascade Locks.  Take the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River (Toll is $1 each way) to SR-14.  Take SR-14 eastbound (turn right) for 1.5 miles, then turn left on Rock Creek Drive.  Follow Rock Creek Drive for 0.3 miles (past Skamania Lodge), and turn left on Foster Creek Road.  After 0.9 miles, turn left onto Red Bluff Road.  After 0.3 miles, veer right onto gravel road CG2000, and follow the pothole-ridden road for 9.5 miles to its crest at Rock Creek Pass.  Watch out for  oncoming traffic and recreationers along the road.  An SUV or similar vehicle is strongly recommended for these roads. You'll come to a three-way intersection, where you take the road to the left (keeping mostly straight at the intersection), which is CG2090.  After 0.3 miles, hit the pullout on the right.  You'll see PCT markers on the left side of the road.


The Trail:

The Pacific Crest Trail will be on the right side of the road, heading up into the forest.  This trail is seldom visited, but leads to one of the finest panoramic 360 views you'll find anywhere.  With a summit elevation of around 3550', snow can cover the trail well into the early summer. 

Follow the wildflower-lined trail as it slopes upward, following a fairly straight path through the forest.  As you exit the forest, occasional vistas of massive Mt. Adams await you.  Continue until you see a sign at a T-Intersection, pointing to the right, labeled "Three Corner Rock 3/4 mi.".  Follow the trail to the right (leaving the PCT).  Continue past a sign labeled "Water Trough" as the trail becomes a doubletrack dirt road.  After only a short distance, you'll see Three Corner Rock, a clump of boulders perched atop the hill.

Follow the dirt road up to the base of Three Corner Rock, and a concrete aggregate trail, marked by steel fenceposts, winds up the rock to the site of an old lookout on the top.  You'll notice two Department of Natural Resources triangulation monuments set in the rock, and the old footings of the lookout. 

From here, you have an unobstructed 360 panorama, with breathtaking views of five snow peaks (Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier), miles of timberland, and portions of the Columbia River Gorge.  There is room atop the rock to relax, take in the views, take photos, and have a picnic.  To return, follow the trail back down the same path to the trailhead.


Our Take:

We first visited this trail with Tymun and Holly in late January, when the gravel road and trail were still mostly snow-covered.  The road was fairly treacherous, but Tymun's Subaru handled it just fine.   The weather was terrible, a massive rainstorm.  It poured non-stop throughout the hike, and our views were non-existent.  We trudged through the snow and rain up to the base of the rock, but with no views and drenched clothing, we figured there was no reason to continue.  We'd try it again another day.

In early July, we tried it again, this time by ourselves.  The wildflowers were just ending their bloom cycle, and the day was magnificent.  80F and nothing but blue sky.  The road was pretty rotten, with large potholes and winding, single-lane, blind corners, but our Infiniti's traction control worked flawlessly.  We missed our turn at the three-way intersection, taking both of the other roads for a couple of miles each before finding the right one.  There is a redeeming value to the road, though.  It passes by one of two beautiful waterfalls, depending on the route you choose, with nice pools at the bottom where you can take a dip after the hike, or just relax for a little while.

It took just under an hour to ascend the trail, with occasional vistas of Mt. Adams along the way.  Three Corner Rock was an easy scramble to the top, and we marveled at the views, especially surprised to have such a clear view of Mt. Rainier from a couple hundred miles to the south.  After some photos and investigation of the survey marks (of course), we turned around.  We would have stayed longer, but it was July 4th, and we had plans for the fireworks that night.  After missing the turn at the Water Trough, we recovered and returned to the car for the brutal trip back down the to the paved road.

Not truly part of the Columbia River Gorge, but close enough for this website, this is a trail to plan to spend a little time at the top.  For under a 2-hour round trip, the 1.5 hour drive each way and abuse on your car, seems barely worth it.  However, the solitude and the views are truly excellent.  


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