Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Corner Falls. Off trail all the way.

Almost my whole life I have loved hiking but it was not till the last 10 years of so that I started taking an interest in off trail hiking and exploring. Some of the waterfalls that are off trail in the gorge are more incredible in my opinion than the ones on the trail.
Upper Bridalveil Falls
This recent trip was so good that I just had to write about it. Three Corner Creek comes down a steep drainage into Rock Creek way up on Red Bluff Road north of Stevenson Washington. The drainage has five waterfalls in a little less than half of a mile.
Three Corner Creek Drainage
After a 1 hour drive our adventure started with trying to find the right place to drop down into the drainage below. This effort took three tries as when we got to the bottom of the drainage we found the wrong two drainage's to go up and the brush in the bottom is to thick for exploring in.
Dense brush and supper steep banks.
This process involved dropping 800 feet to the bottom while holding onto vine maple branches. Then look around and cross the creek. Find out this is the wrong side creek and head back up. We did see some cool things while in the bottom.
God's mossy cave of green

It was now noon and we were wondering if we would find it at all. One more try we thought and drove up the steep road a little more to a different parking spot. This time the down hill was even stepper than before but we got to the bottom and saw that there was a lot of water in this side creek which meant that we had found the right drainage!
My dad in the bottom.
Quickly finding a spot to cross the creek we headed up what we thought was the side drainage but was really the main creek. Turning the corner into the new drainage we were met with a view in the distance.
Lower falls
The falls was close and our spirit was renewed. Heading down into the creek to avoid and brush we soon got a clear view of the falls as it fell over a tall dam of basalt rock. Old growth fir, large ferns, and lots of moss made for quite the seen.
Lower falls from afar.

Up close

Such a sense of serenity was amazing. We absorbed it all for a short while then our thoughts were consumed by how to get around it. As we headed up the right slope pulling on tall ferns for help I could not help but smile and want for more.
Looking back at the lower falls
Falls number two turned out to be in a bowl just above falls number one. A small break in the cliff line allowed us to scramble into the bowl of the falls a get a look up close and personal. Overhanging basalt rock in the shape of a horse shoe with the creek smashing into a small shelf of rock at the bottom.
Note the small arch carved by the water at the bottom.
Re-tracing our steps out of the bowl we headed on up the slope until we met up with a ridge of moss covered basalt. Slipping around it's left flank and into the steep woods we traversed onward until we could see what we thought was the final falls. The large basalt cirque spread out before us and what I saw I had never seen before.
Two 80 foot waterfalls into the same creek.
It turns out that this spot was were two separate drainage's meet. The waterfalls fell into separate polls separated by a small island of rock and then joined up about 25 feet down the creek. What an incredible view. Old growth firs and large maple. Big ferns and moss every ware. And then there were the two waterfalls.
The base of the left falls with the right falls in the background.
The right falls.
Both polls and the right falls.
The left falls like silk caressing the cliff as it falls into it quite poll.
Time passed as we took it all in. I was so glad to have had this adventure with my dad but time was ticking by and it had taken two and a half hours to get in hear. We decided to take a slightly different route out to minimize the brush. This change gave us one more surprise.
Falls number 5
This last falls would be huge and loud at high water. Cutting up the slope from hear we found the ridge and headed down it's spine. At the end we ended up doing some 4th class moss down climbing to get off the ridge but it was steep clear woods all the way back to the bottom of the creek. We crossed were we had before and then looked up. Pulling on lots of ferns and vine maple for 800 vertical brought us back up flatter ground and a short walk to the car. Six hours in the woods with 4000 vertical gain and loss finished by only traveling a mile and a half total on the day. I would do it again in a hart beat but I think there might be an easier way in next time.


  1. Beautiful photos. Extremely well documented. Did you visit this area in late summer or earlier in the year? Thanks so much for sharing. Christina at Cape Horn, WA

  2. This trip was in early July but I went in later on the 24th of December. The level of the water then was incredible. I hope to get out a post on that trip some time as well.