Vicinity Location: The trailhead is about 114 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon at Smith Rock State Park.
From Portland, drive east on Highway 26, then take Highway 97 South. Turn left at Terrebonne, following the signs to Smith Rock State Park.
There are restrooms at the trailhead.
Note: An Oregon State Park permit is required to park at trailhead.
Smith Rock Trail, Summit View Trail, and Misery Ridge Trail with connections to other trails.
There is a geocache at: N 44° 22.132 W 121°08.475 Info at Geocaching.com
Length and Elevation:
9.2 miles Roundtrip for the loop. Elevation at the trailhead is 2,830 feet. Elevation gain totals 2,040 feet. Total gain and loss is 4,080 feet. Highest elevation is 3,560 feet.
Adding trip up Misery Ridge is 1.3 miles roundtrip from the bridge and 900 feet gain with an additional total of 1,800 feet of elevation gain and loss.
Review: October 20, 2012.
From the main trailhead, take any trail down to a meadow and picnic area next to a footbridge that crosses the Crooked River.
There is a water fountain to the right of the bridge seasonally. Take time to
admire the views as you cross the bridge. Take a left after the bridge and walk
along the relatively flat trail that wanders along the picturesque Crooked
River. The river makes very pleasant sounds as it gurgles through the canyon.
Going along Smith Rocks you’ll pass many
different kinds and colors of rocks, from breccia to rock cliffs the color of
malachite, to cliffs tinged with reds and browns. A perfect place for a fall
hike on this wide, well maintained trail.
After following the river downstream for 2.4 miles and around a horseshoe bend,
you reach the junction for the Mesa Verde Trail, which goes over Smith Rock.
From here, continue along the river, passing Monkey Face rock.
The trail remains in the flood plain for the Crooked River for a bit more,
until 2.9 miles from the trailhead, where you reach the 2nd junction
for the Mesa Verde Trail.
From here, The Summit Loop Trail, a lesser maintained trail, begins to ascend,
drifting away from the river. After a short time you reach the beginning of a
newly constructed trail continues to climb away from the Crooked River. As you
walk up the winding path, you pass among the juniper and underneath the
many-colored and textured pinnacles at Smith Rock State Park.
After walking just over 3.25 miles and climbing up above the river, the trail
turns to the right, crossing an easement across private land and away from the
river. Here the view change and suddenly everything looks much drier than down
by the river. Follow the sandy route as it continues gently uphill as the trail
winds up a draw and reaches a junction near the top of the draw. Turn left,
heading north, and continue climbing just a bit over a hump, then drop down a
little. The views here look down into the valley and of the Three Sisters to
the southwest and the cone of Black Butte to the west.
Soon you begin a climb of at least a dozen switchbacks going up to one of the
highest points in the park. Eventually you reach an old road that goes through
a saddle. There are some nice views down into the park, but also some cliffs
near the edge of the trail. This is the highest point along the trail.
From the saddle, at about 5.2 miles from the trailhead, drop down along Burma
Road and cross over an irrigation canal, and follow the canal as it winds out
of the park. For a shorter trip, turn right about 500 feet after crossing the
canal, where the road bears left. Drop down into the valley and follow the
Crooked River back to the trailhead.
From here you can see one of the parking areas a short distance away, a short
distance if you are a bird, because the Crooked River and basalt cliffs are
Continuing on the longer route, follow the road along the irrigation canal for
.7 mile, enjoying nice views of the hills to the left. Look for a large boulder
that is between the upper and lower road. When you get to the boulder, look for
a small user trail that goes to the left of the rock and join the lower road.
Turn right here and walk along the lower road for about .3 mile. Look for a
tiny user trail veering off about 90 degrees from the road on the left. If you
have small children, it is best to walk back along the road and bypass this next
section of the trail. Otherwise, walk gently downhill about 500 feet to the
edge of the canyon and turn right, heading back towards the trailhead. This
trail down to the canyon can be indistinct at times, so if you lose the trail,
bear slightly to the right as you walk downhill. Remember to watch out for
This next section of trail is right along the edge of basalt cliffs and
provides nice views looking down on the river. After walking about .5 mile, the
trail turns to the right and joins the Student Wall trail then descend steeply
down a small valley. Pick your way down a few switchbacks to the junction of
Burma Road and Student Wall Trail.
Continue down a bit farther is the junction for Wolf Tree Trail. Turn right and
walk along the river, admiring the variations of the different peaks in Smith
Rock State Park. Going downstream the trail closely parallels the river and
passes under a large pine tree with an inviting bench to sit on.
From here, continue along the mostly level flood plain back to the bridge over
the Crooked River and back uphill to the parking lot, or turn right and take
the Misery Ridge Trail.
The Misery Ridge Trail climbs steeply using a few hundred stairs and many
switchbacks. After gaining about 900 feet in elevation, you top out on the rock
with a nice view of the countryside. Walk along the trail, heading generally
south and get a nice view of Monkey Face. Head back down to the bridge the way
you came up.
This is a “must hike” trail. It is best in the
spring or fall and the rocks look their best in the early morning light.
Sunrise is an especially nice time to watch the changing colors of the rocks as
the sunlight plays across the rocks.
Enjoy the photos!!