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Three Corner Rock Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. St. Helens from Three Corner Rock (bobcat)
Piped spring and tub, Three Corner Rock Trail (bobcat)
Three Corner Rock (bobcat)
The PCT route to Three Corner Rock from Rock Creek Pass (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Rock Creek Pass TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Three Corner Rock
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 4.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1200 feet
  • High point: 3,550 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Mid-spring to late fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes, for older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The second shortest way to Three Corner Rock, a landmark basalt pyramid and former lookout site on the Gorge skyline, begins at Rock Creek Pass (The shortest route, a switchback demon of an ascent - 3.6 miles round-trip, begins farther down CG 1440 on the west side of Three Corner's ridge). You'll take the Pacific Crest Trail for the first 1 1/2 miles. Three Corner Rock itself lies half a mile off the Pacific Crest Trail as it runs between Birkenfeld Mountain and Sedum Ridge. You'll pass a far-reaching viewpoint over the Rock Creek valley to Mount Adams and get 360-degree views when you get to the top of the Rock. Wildflowers can be spectacular in the Three Corner Rock area in June, with lots of blooming bear-grass.

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: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Bridal Veil, OR #428
  • Three Corner Rock and Vicinity Trail Systems (Washington DNR)
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources: The Yacolt Burn State Forest Map
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
  • U.S. Depart 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)

Regulations or restrictions, etc

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Day Hikes in the Columbia Gorge by Don J. Scarmuzzi
  • 33 Hiking Trails: Southern Washington Cascades by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Skamania 231: A Scrambler's Guide by Kelly Wagner
  • 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


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.