Not for the faint of heart!Regarding Three Corner Rock Trail, not for the faint of heart is quite appropriate for a couple of reasons. First, the climb from the trailhead to the peak at Three Corner Rock is quite strenuous at around 2400 feet in about 8.5 miles. There is some relief with some fast and flowin' downhill sections that break up that climb but I think most riders will feel the 5K feet total by the time they've returned to their car. Additionally, there are many tight turns and hillside portions that require complete attention. Lose focus and line on this trail and it will be awhile before you stop or are stopped by a large, immovable object on your quicker than desired descent.
My plan for my first Three Corner excursion was to get to the Stebbins Creek crossing about 4.5 miles into the route, scout a little, check trail conditions, and click back down the downhill/switchback fun ride. Along the way, I discovered this trail is essentially a series of switchbacks up and down a couple of large and spiny ridges as well as following the contours of a couple smaller finger ridges and spends negligible time on the top of any of them. The switchback count is somewhere between 65 and 70 and the hillside is so steep that it almost felt as if tying off would be a good idea.
I made my goal of reaching the creek crossing for about a nine mile ride, but as is often the case with wilderness trails, high water levels have washed the bridge out years ago and a ford is now required to continue to the Three Corner Rock prominence. I knew my time was limited and even if not, I wasn't up for a shoe removal crossing this ride. However, a mild winter has meant a lower-than-typical water level. Maybe next time. Those who have reached Three Corner Rock say the view is worthy.
Oh, I only was equipped with my poor quality phone cam to catch a few images as I wasn't thinking trail page. It was so extreme and beautiful, though, I just had to share it. I'll update it with better images later. For now, sorry for the image clarity -- there is nothing wrong with your eyes or monitor. Well, perhaps your monitor is okay. I can't really speak for the peepers.
Trail DescriptionLink to trail map
Trimble Report from a recent ride submitted by Wade.
There are roads that allow access near the Three Corner Rock summit and many recommend this as a downhill shuttle. Others claim real mountain bikers out-and-back this with a road ride up and single track down. Hard core types (like me??) prefer to out-and-back the single track both directions. Pick your poison. It's a fun and challenging ride for more advanced riders however you do it.
The single track tread winds mostly through Douglas Fir stands, ferns, Oregon Grape and various nettles and thorny shrubs (did you know I am not a botanist?) that can bring on a scratch fest in the Spring-Fall seasons. As part of the Yacolt Burn Region, many fire scorched trunks are still standing and provide homes for various small forest creatures. The tread surface varies from buff to small rock garden to rooty/rocky to slick creek crossings. Riders with expert skills will find it all quite rideable while most others (like me) will hike-a-bike now and then.
Directions to the trailhead and red tapeI am listing only directions to the lower trailhead here as I prefer out-and-back over a shuttle in most cases. As stated earlier, this can be a loop with the climb accessing the upper trailhead via gravel roads beginning at this same lower trailhead.
About 16 miles east of I-5 in Vancouver, WA, on State Route 14, turn left into Washougal at 15th street (a cell tower will be on your left).
Stay on this street and it will turn into Washougal River Road. It winds along the Washougal River for about 17 miles. The only major intersection is a 3-way at the Mercantile store - veer left.
Obey the speed limits when they are reduced; these reduced speed areas are for safety where the road passes through more populated residential sections and the fish hatchery. Line of sight is somewhat limited.
About a mile after the fish hatchery, there will be a bridge across the Washougal River with Dugan Falls on your right, and the paved road will end at a 3-way intersection, 17 miles from town. The Three Corner Rock trail has a sign at this intersection. Turn right onto the gravel road.
Go 3.2 miles and look for the lower trailhead on the left. You will have to backtrack about 100 yards from the parking area to reach the trail tread.
This land and trail are managed by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and once did not require any access fees or passes. That has changed as of Fall 2011. A visibly posted Discover Pass is required for use at all DNR managed sites and trail heads. An annual pass is $35.00 and a daily pass is $10.00. The fine for parking without one is $99.00. As always, please use your best trail manners. These trails are often multi-use with bikers, hikers and equestrians all using the same tread.
The best seasons to ride
Normally I would avoid this trail most winters. It is typically a great Summer-Fall ride if maintenance is done and the spiny stuff is trimmed back. With the many creek crossings, Winter and Spring rides can be a little sketchy when snow and heavy rains are in the picture. However, the current mild winter has meant less blow down, little rain, a tread that is not fraught with washouts or trenching, and is actually quite dry midway through this Winter. This has allowed maintenance crews to keep up and means a very nice Winter ride.