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Central Oregon Hiking: Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park

My five children quickly file up the Misery Ridge Trail, maintaining a conditioned pace that I set from the rear. All of a sudden, my 8 year old stops in the middle of the narrow dusty trail, looks back at me with total defeat in his eyes, “Dad, I don’t think I can make it!”

With just a little encouragement, the youngest of five regained his confident smile and ran ahead to catch up with the rest of the kids.

Hiking Smith Rock is one of our favorite Central Oregon hikes. Our favorite loop starts by climbing the Misery Ridge Trail; I enjoy relaxing on top of the ridge where my children and I can usually catch a gutsy climber slacklining to Monkey Face.  The kids enjoy playing freeze tag while jumping from boulder to boulder; and we all enjoy the peaceful view from the summit.

Smith Rock State Park

After some photos we wind our way down the back side of the ridge to the Mesa Verde Trail which parallels the Crooked River. We head south toward the River Trail and then back to the trailhead. This loop is about 3 miles, but it feels longer because of the steep climb up to the top.

Smith Rock State ParkOur second favorite loop starts at the footbridge crossing the Crooked River and follows the Wolf Tree Trail north. The trail starts out flat and the conversations are free flowing with lots of laughing and teasing.  The talking quickly comes to an end when we continue north up a side trail to the top of the ridgeline. At the ridgeline, we follow the Summit Trail out to the Viewpoint and enjoy the view. From the Viewpoint, we follow the trail east to the Burma Road Trail. The Burma Road Trail leads back into the Wolf Tree Trail for a great 5 mile hike back to the Footbridge.

We hike Smith Rock trails two to three times a month during June and July. We love the adventures of hiking to the summit and tracking the improvement in our conditioning. Late in July, as we are preparing for our multiple day backpacking trips, we will hike the Wolf Tree Trail loop first and then as we come back around the corner by the Footbridge we charge up the Misery Ridge Trail for the final three miles of our training hike. You’ll want to carry plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated when it’s hot.  The drinking fountain by the Footbridge is a great place to fill water bottles and share stories with other hikers. Enjoy!

Click here to view a PDF of the Oregon State Park.

Joe Bales
Joe Bales creates adventure with his children. He opens doors to amazing wilderness experiences and splashes excitement and intrigue into the journey. He wars against the sedentary lifestyle with spectacular outings, capturing attention and standing in awe of natural beauty. He tweets about his adventures @alpinehikerdad and blogs at www.joebales.com
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