Okay, the name is a little overrated and the views are anything but miserable. Still, come prepared for some steep elevation and cliff hugging trails on your way around Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.
What is Smith Rock State Park?
Smith Rock State Park is located in southeast Oregon and has outdoor activities for all types of people. The park features a canyon setting with Crooked River running through the grounds and the main attraction is Smith Rock and the Monkeyface Rock formation.
The most popular activity by far is rock climbing. The parks boasts several thousand rock climbing routes with over a thousand of the routes bolted.
Other activities in the park include, hiking, mountain biking, camping, and for the most extreme - slack lining! A simple hike around this park on a good day will get you several great shows going at the same time to spectate.
How to Get to Smith Rock State Park?
Smith Rock is located 30 minutes north of Bend, Oregon and 2 hours and 45 minutes southeast of Portland, Oregon.
The park has substantial paved roads and gravel parking lots which have a $5 day use fee.
Best Hiking Trails at Smith Rock State Park
The Misery Ridge Loop Trail is a favorite among visitors not only for its death defying name but also for its efficiency at giving visitors the best hiking experience through Smith Rock State Park.
The trail will take you to the most popular sites in the park including the Monkeyface Rock Formation and Crooked River while providing grand views the entire time.
Misery Ridge Loop Trail is rated as difficult due to steep inclines which are made up of switchback trails and stairs. It begins by crossing the Crooked River and ascending up the wall of switchbacks.
The trail continues to ascend slowly around the Red Wall rock climbing route before getting to another set of switchbacks. Once at the top, you're mostly done with the tough elevation and can enjoy sitting on the slab looking down at the winding Crooked River through the canyon.
You can also take a minute to let your shirt dry out from all that sweat.
The trails continues on the plateau until arriving at Monkeyface. If you're lucky you'll get to see the slack liners coming in or the pro climbers on the head.
The trail then descends and heads around the Monkeyface and links up to the River Trail which goes around the backside of Smith Rock before continuing up Crooked River and back to the starting bridge.
The total loop is about 3.5 miles but you can add more mileage in by exploring the northern canyon ridge and basin along the Wolf Tree Trail and Burma Road Trail.
If you're looking for something lighter sounding than Misery Ridge the River Trail and Canyon Trail are both suitable options for hikers of all abilities.
Misery Ridge and River Trail
Distance: 3.5 Miles
Ascent: 948 feet
Camping at Smith Rock State Park
Bivouac camping is offered on site for $8 per person per night and is equipped with showers for overnight quests.
To access this area, look for the Smith Rock Bivouac Area on your map and it will be your first left as you drive in before getting to the RV parking lot.
Smith Rock is in a desert and canyon like environment with little to no tree coverage for shade. During summer months temperatures can get aggressively high.
Plan to pack in a lot of water - the water sources in the state park are unreliable. The water fountain by the bridge across Crooked River was out of service when I was there and the river is not safe to filter.
This area can get packed on weekends but I found a lot of traffic is for climbing and that the hiking trails aren't as bad as you would expect from the parking situation.
More information can be found at the state website for Smith Rock State Park here!
This hike can get strenuous, be prepared with proper day-hiking essentials!
Have you been here or planning a trip? Let me know in the comments!
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