Three Corner Rock is a really a pile of basalt formed by years Columbia River flooding. It sits in the Yacolt Burn State Forest at 3500 feet above sea level. Those willing to walk the stairs and then make the short rock climb to the top will get stunning views of Cascade Peaks from Mt. Jefferson to Mt. Ranier. At the base of the Three Corner Rock is an abundance of wildflowers.
It’s also fairly easy to get to, since Three Corner Rock is a short trail right off the PCT just North of Stevenson, WA. Running the PCT from the intersection of Red Bluff Road to makes an out and back of 10 miles. The benefit of Red Bluff Road is Steep Creek Falls are located on the way, which is a great recovery shower and swimming hole on the way back home.
The trails are spectacularly maintained by the Pacific Crest Trail Association. The soft feel of fir needles bouncing under the soles makes a joyous run. There’s a camping spot and wading area near Rock Creek. Several wet and dry creek crossings are the only technical challenges. There is still evidence of the Yacolt burn among the new growth trees. The climb is evident southbound from Red Bluff but still runnable. Eventually Mt. Adams appears between the firs. Look for the sign the sign to Three Corner Rock and follow the short trail. There is a piped water spring for water just before the jeep road to the foot of Three Corner Rock. Check out the video for reference.
Three Corner Rock is also the main feature of the Three Corner Rock PCT 50k (formerly PCT Bunker to Bonneville 50k.) Syd Long has taken over the reigns from Anna Bates, who was the race director for ten years. The race is still affiliated with the Columbia Gorge Running Club and benefits the Stevenson HS cross country team, who volunteers at the last aid station. I talked with Long about why she decided to help lead the race and what changes have been made.
“I ran the PCT Bunker to Bonneville 50K several times. I love the fact that it’s run on a shoestring budget, but it is well organized and the same volunteers from the area keep coming out year after year. It seems more like a group run environment” Long has won the race a couple times. “I thought it was great that when I won, there was no prize or celebration. The focus was on all the runners, not just the winners.”
Three Corner Rock PCT 50K has grandfathered a permit to race on this section of the PCT as no new races are allowed. Besides the name, there is another difference between the two races. The road at the end has been shortened from 3 miles to 1.5 miles. Access to the road now involves using the dry Hamilton Creek bed. The race will still use the Discovery Trail to enter North Bonneville.
The permit only allows 100 runners. “This just enhances the good community feel” Long stated. “It’s all inclusive for the runners, volunteers, and everyone else involved. I’m an ER nurse, so I’m doing this for fun because I think it’s just a great way to get involved with the trail running community.”