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Three Corner Rock from Snag Creek Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Rainier from Three Corner Rock (bobcat)
Snag Creek, Pacific Crest Trail (bobcat)
Piped spring and tub, Three Corner Rock Trail (bobcat)
Three Corner Rock (bobcat)
The route to Three Corner Rock from Snag Creek via the Pacific Crest Trail (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Snag Creek TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Three Corner Rock
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 11.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2440 feet
  • High point: 3,550 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Mid-spring to late fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Three Corner Rock is a rather significant knob and former lookout site on the Gorge skyline and lies half a mile off the Pacific Crest Trail as it runs between Birkenfeld Mountain and Sedum Ridge. The closest way to access it via the Pacific Crest Trail is from the north. This day hike begins near Snag Creek and crosses two other roads, both potentially closer trailheads, before rising more steeply to its destination. Along the way, in addition to DNR plantations, there is a beautiful parcel of old growth and a far-reaching viewpoint over the Rock Creek valley to Mount Adams. Wildflowers can be spectacular in the Three Corner Rock area in June, with lots of blooming bear-grass. Also, this section of the Pacific Crest Trail, especially the part below the Rock Creek Pass Trailhead, is little traveled by day hikers and only gets busy when PCT through hikers coming marching along later in the summer.

Important note: If creek levels are high, you may not be able to cross Snag Creek and you should begin this hike at one of the higher trailheads.

Hike west along a slope planted with Douglas-firs and western hemlock in 1975 but infiltrated by many big-leaf maples and red alders. There is a crowded carpet of Oregon grape, sword fern, and salal. Reach Snag Creek, where the old bridge is gone and a new one (perhaps in 2016?) is in the making. The crossing here is very slippery if you want to keep your feet dry, so take care. Notice the large old growth Douglas-firs in the vicinity. After crossing the creek, reach the Pacific Crest-Snag Creek Trail Junction: the Snag Creek Trail was repaired by a Boy Scout troop in 1981 but once more has been abandoned. Hike along a slope below a clearcut and drop to pass a spring and reach the large footbridge over Rock Creek.

Cross the footbridge and notice the layer of greenish-blue tuff which the creek has cut into downstream. Head up a slope in 100-year forest regenerating since the 1902 Yacolt Burn. Switchback up and make a traverse to reach and cross Road CG 2000 at the PCT Red Bluff Road Trailhead, another option for beginning this hike.

Pass the plantation sign and undulate along a hillside before dropping to cross a small creek, where you are back in 100-year forest. Cross a second burbling creek and traverse up in denser woods. Notice a couple of clearcuts below. Drop to cross a steep scree slope and then gradually rise, cross a creek, and traverse below mossy cliffs. Switchback to enter a 1975 plantation, join an old road bed briefly, and then hike steadily up along a shallow gully. Reach a road at the Rock Creek Pass Trailhead and cross it.

The PCT signs at the trailhead have long since disappeared although there is an unofficial one on a tree. Behind it, there's a large cautionary sign warning hikers about logging trucks on the road. Hike uphill on a wide trail before you switchback and make a long traverse. Blooming avalanche lilies and trillium abound here in late spring. Round a corner and get your first glimpse of Mount Adams. Switchback twice in stunted silver fir/noble fir/ Douglas-fir woods with a bear-grass carpet. A spur to the left leads to a commanding viewpoint with views to Mount Adams and the summits of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Goat Rocks. Past the viewpoint, the trail levels and reaches the Pacific Crest-Three Corner Rock Trail Junction.

The large sign here was restored in 2016. Go right and soon see a spur leading right to a rusting horse trough with a pipe bringing in spring water. On the main trail, walk on the level to reach an abandoned four-wheel drive road. Hike up this rubbly, deeply gullied track to a ridge crest of bear-grass with a sprinkling of baby noble firs. Three Corner Rock is the pyramidal basalt pile on your right. The remains of the concrete lookout path will take you to the summit, which catches ferocious wind blasts at times. However, the views are expansive and stunning. Look south beyond the communications tower to Birkenfeld Mountain, South Birkenfeld Mountain, Table Mountain, Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson. Wind Mountain and Dog Mountain can be seen beyond Birkenfeld Mountain. To the southwest is the forested Stebbins Creek valley (See the Stebbins Creek to Three Corner Rock Hike), which leads to the Washougal River. To the west is Silver Star Mountain, and the northern skyline presents the massive humps of the three southern Washington stratovolcanoes, with Mount Rainier rising directly behind Mowich Butte and Mount Saint Helens behind Lookout Mountain to the northwest.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bridal Veil, OR #428 and Lookout Mtn., WA #396
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources: Three Corner Rock and Vicinity Trail Systems
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources: The Yacolt Burn State Forest Map
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: Pacific Crest Trail, Cascade Series – Southern Washington (Map #9)
  • Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail Map: Washington Section H — Cascade Locks to Highway 12 (near White Pass)
  • U.S. Depart of Agriculture: Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Depart of Agriculture: Gifford Pinchot National Forest: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • U.S. Depart of Agriculture: Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Discover Pass required at trailhead
  • $2 toll each way at the Bridge of the Gods
  • Bridge gone at Snag Creek: do not attempt at high water

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain (from Rock Creek Pass)
  • Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Washington by Tami Asars
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington by Jeffrey P. Schaffer & Andy Setters
  • Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail: Oregon & Washington by George & Patricia Semb

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.