Although Smith Rock State Park is famous for its rock climbing, it’s also a beautiful park to hike. It is after all one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders. The most popular hike and the best way to see the iconic parts of the park is through the Misery Ridge Trail Loop.
DIRECTIONS FOR HIKING THE MISERY RIDGE TRAIL
From the Welcome Center, follow the Smith Rock Trailhead down to the Crooked River Bridge. After crossing the bridge, you’ll see a sign that marks the Misery Ridge Trail. You will immediately start gaining elevation up the switchbacks and oversized stairs. You’ll also see a few small cave-like areas that were created from air bubbles caught in compressed volcanic ash. After reaching a flat spot for about .1 of a mile, you’ll start to climb again until you reach the summit. It’s about 0.75 miles from the bridge to the Misery Ridge Summit.
Once you’re at the top, enjoy the views. There’s an open rock which gives you amazing views to the east and the south. If you continue along the trail, there will be some offshoots that give you other vantage points. When you’re ready, continue following the signs to the other side of the mountain.
You can take a mini-detour and go left at this sign to get to an amazing photo spot. If you’re afraid of heights like me, you should be cautious since it is very exposed. I pretty much crawled.
Before descending, you’ll get a great overlook of Monkey Face. You can even follow the trail down to the left to come face to face with it. You can also see a lot of Oregon’s Cascade peaks on clear days, including Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor.
The trail back down is steep and you will eventually meet up with Mesa Verde Trail at the base of Monkey Face. Head left on the trail and follow it along the hill. In another half mile or so, you’ll meet with River Trail, which will take you on an easy stroll along the river until you get back to the Crooked River Bridge. When you’re ready, head back uphill to your car.
PRO TIPS FOR HIKING THE MISERY RIDGE TRAIL
- In the summer, it gets really hot (can reach 100+ degrees)! Try doing the hike early morning or late afternoon. It is the most strenuous hike in the park, so please hike responsibly and bring plenty of water.
- The area is home to a lot of rattlesnakes. Be careful around shaded or hidden areas, and check any small caves before entering.
- You will most likely come across a lot of rock climbers during the beginning and end of the hikes. Take time to watch them scale the rock!
- See More Amazing Things to Do at Smith Rock State Park
WHAT TO PACK / WEAR FOR YOUR HIKE
- Sturdy Hiking Shoes (HIS + HERS)
- Light Jacket / Rain Coat (if hiking in cooler weather)
- Water (you can fill up at the water fountains behind the Welcome Center)
- Hat and Sunglasses
- Snack / Lunch
- Bite & Sting Emergency Kit
- Peter Skene Ogden State Park (5.3 mi / 10 min away)
- Redmond Caves Recreation Area (11.5 mi / 19 min away)
- Steelhead Falls (12.6 mi / 23 min away)
- Cline Falls State Park (13.7 mi / 23 min away)
- Bend, Oregon (26.1 mi / 36 min away) – tons of breweries and accommodations
- Skylight Cave (40 mi / 1 hr 5 min away)
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Have you done any other hikes within Smith Rock?