To find Smith Rock State Park you will have to travel to Terrebonne, Oregon located in the heart of Central Oregon on Highway 97. Once in the small burg you will find signs directing you to the park. Bring some cash to pay for parking, fees are currently $5.00 for day use. Take at least a quart of water and a snack or two to keep your energy up.
I have driven past, lived near and looked at with curiosity this area for about 37 years or so and never visited. I decided to make this my first hike because it was close to home so if it killed me I wouldn’t have far to travel to the funeral home and from what I had seen or heard it would be a beautiful challenge.
Upon arrival I could tell that it was going to be a great day, overcast but you could see the blue area in the west was getting larger by the moment. My wife is my official photographer for my journey’s and I really appreciate her take on beauty, she has the eye of an angel.
Looking at the challenge from the tourist viewpoint left me thinking I may have made amistake. But I could not resist the beauty of it and when I read how the place was formed I knew I had to go look just for the geological value. I am fond of geology and the area is rich with great examples.
Heading down the trail you will come to an overlook where you will find the sign that is pictured to the right. You will be able to look into the bottom of the Crooked River Canyon to see that it is quite a ways down. The picture is of the bridge crossing the Crooked River that cut the gorge out. As I was walking down the path to the bridge I was thinking about the effort that it was going to take to get back up out of it.
As you can see, the bridge which can accommodate 3 people walking abreast across it looks like a miniature from the angle taken. Once again, an angel’s view of how the hike begins.
Once you are across the bridge you have choices to make on which way you want to walk. l you can continue on straight, up Misery Ridge from the east or turn left and follow the river. l you can also follow the river to the right but you will have to back track that trail to get out of the park.
Following the river you will see the spectacle that is is Smith Rock, with enormous rock faces that thrust up into the sky. Most days the rock faces are speckled with climbers. This day, we got there early trying to beat the heat so there are no climbers yet. The trail along the river is fairly flat and easy to walk for the next 2 miles where you will have to make another choice.
The choices will be to either continue along the river and return the same way or begin your ascent up the trail to Misery Ridge and the grand view of Monkey face. At this point of the hike I was feeling fairly good and decided that I wanted or better yet just had to go up and see Monkey Face.
The trail turned suddenly up here and I was quickly winded with sweat pouring off of me. I was determined and would not give up until I made it to the top. Once on top there is a nice area to take a break with a bench. Sitting on the bench you will have a view of the Central Cascade Mountains from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood. If it is not hazy you may even see the dome of Mt. Adams in Washington state.
The summit is flat compared to the climb up and is easy to get around. Follow the trail around to the east side of the rock and you will find the stair-master, at least that is what we called it. The trail on this side is so steep that they had to put stairs on it to make it easier to get up and down. We have found the “misery” part of Misery Ridge.
My poor wife was so nervous coming down this part of the trail that she practically crawled down the path until it relented the steepness. So if you are skidish about heights I recommend having hiking poles to assist you in coming down at least. I did not have any poles at this time and the scree was very loose and slippery underfoot.
Once we were down the stair-master section of the trail it became fairly easy to keep our footing and the hike down was enjoyable. We encountered our first climbers on the red wall and when we were exiting the park back up to the view point maybe another two dozen climbers were on their way down the trail. Check out the gallery for this hike by clicking here Smith Rock State Park Gallery
Thanks for reading, go see this place it is a beauty.
The Fat Guy