Smith Rock State Park – Misery Ridge Hike

Written By: The Planet D

Smith Rock State Park in Oregon is one of those places that doesn’t seem like it should be on your bucket list, but it should. There is a reason that Smith Rock is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. Located within a 40 minute drive of the cool city of Bend, it is the perfect place to explore great hiking trails and go rock climbing.

On this particular day we were tackilng the famous Misery Ridge Lop Trail, which is a 3.8 miles (6.1 km) hike that also has a 1000 foot elevation gain, so we know this was going to be difficult.

Hiking Misery Ridge at Smith Rock State Park

reflection on river

To make things even more challenging it was a cold and rainy day but luckily we were taking on the Misery Ridge Loop Trail with local photographer and guide Bo Baumgartner who know this place like the back of his hand.

The trail starts off at the Smith Rock Trail Head just over the bridge and takes you straight up a rocky path.

Hiking Up Misery Ridge

misery ridge bo deb

As I huffed and puffed my way up, Bo seemed to take each step with ease. I tried to hold back my heaves as I attempted to chat with him while looking relaxed. As he talked to me about the landscape around us, I didn’t hear a thing, I was too busy trying to catch my breath as we kept a quick pace up the steep steps.

Dave looked less tired than me during this early morning trek, but told me later that whenever he felt tired, he just stopped to take a photo. And here I thought he was just doing his job well. But seriously, it wasn’t that bad. It’s a good hike to the top but once we got there, I thought that’s it? I was expecting much worse misery. The hike up to the top of Smith Rock may have been steep, but the views were nothing short of spectacular.

Beautiful Scenery

misery ridge hiking

I couldn’t help but stop often to take in the scene below. I couldn’t believe how quickly we ascended to such a high point. It only takes about half an hour to reach the top of the ridge, and after that, you are rewarded with an easy stroll for the rest of the day.

Well, with the odd scramble or two and very fun descent down some steep switchback trails. It was windy and very overcast for our misery ridge loop hike. This is the most difficult hike in Smith Rock State Park and Mother Nature had a sense of humour today.

Why not make it as miserable as possible for Dave and Deb so that they would have a true, misery ridge experience?Honestly though, it could have been worse. The rain held off for our entire walk and even though there were high wind warnings in the forecast, nobody was blown over the edge.

Monkey Face

monkey face misery ridge

We checked out the various views from above until we made it to the famous Monkey Face. Monkey Face is a striking feature of Smith Rock State Park. It’s a 350-foot tall rock tower that apparently resembles a monkey’s face. I couldn’t see the resemblance, but it was still impressive to see. You can climb Monkey Face if you know what you are doing.

Sport Rock Climbing at Smith Rock

climbing smith rock

We finished our day at the river where we stopped to watch the climbers tackle some easier routes for a bit. Easy routes in Smith Rock are relative. Bo tells us the volcanic rock takes some getting used to. It looks like an amazing place to climb though. It’s easy for climbers to find their way to routes for all levels of climbing. But Smith Rock State Park is notable for its more difficult sport climbing routes.

It houses some of the toughest sport and traditional climbing routes in the world and Bo told us that he’s hoping to be able to tackle it one day. ‘Good luck with that Bo.’

There’s a stretcher and crutches placed in an emergency shelter at the bottom of the crag were enough to let us leave that goal to him. Cliffs are easy to get to with steps and paths carved out along the edge surrounded by neat and orderly wooden fences.

Smith Rock in Sunshine

sunset at smith rock

Since the weather was so bad during our trek at Smith Rock, Dave was really disappointed with his photo opportunity. So, instead of moping about it, we switched our Lava Tube tour the following day to the afternoon and woke up early to take another drive out to Smith Rock and catch its spectacular beauty in the early morning light.

The wake up call was worth it as Mother Nature was kind to us today and gave us some gorgeous views of Oregon’s wonder.

We didn’t have time to hike around the monkey face today, but this gives us yet another reason to come back to Oregon again to explore the splendour of her 7 Wonders.

For accommodation near Smith Rock Visit Brasada Ranch
If you are staying in Bend, our accommodations there were at The Oxford Hotel downtown and Sisters was Five Pine Lodge.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

19 thoughts on “Smith Rock State Park – Misery Ridge Hike”

    • Hi Joe. You will love the trip. That photo was taken on the River Trail after we came off of the Misery Ridge Hike. It was taken at about 9 am in March so sunrise was much later than it would be in May. If you wanted to shoot this at sunrise the sun would be enough to your left as I believe this shot is looking pretty much south. IT would be an early start though 🙂

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  1. I found Bo right across from Monkey Face and he has a spectacular view! What a beautiful place to visit. I don’t think I would ever want to leave once I step foot into the canyons!

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  2. Gorgeous photos, especially the ones from the next morning! The hike looks like it’s definitely worth, and I think I MIGHT see the monkey face in the standing rock. Either way, impressive!

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  3. Those views would definitely be worth the huffing and puffing I’d also be doing. I guess Mother Nature has a funny sense of humor on your visit and Misery Ridge lived up to its name. Thank goodness the rain held off so Dave could capture such stunning images and I imagine the rain would have made it truly miserable.

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  4. I know for a fact, I would never make it up that path and the sight of the rock climbers, just makes me nervous!

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    • You could do it Michael. All you have to do is take your time and make a lot of stops. We had a limited amount of time, so our pace was pretty fast.

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  5. Such a fun day! Great article & photos. We may be passing through your neck of the woods this summer, so I’ll keep you posted!

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  6. Yeah I’d leave the rock climbing to Bo as well, I’m always amazed at what free climbers put themselves through. Those views are ridiculously gorgeous though, the hike definitely seems worth it.

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  7. That pictures are sooo beautiful!! Especially that picture of some climbers at the Bottom of Smith Rock, it’s really awesome.

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  8. Before this I had never heard of Smith Rock. It really has amazing views. Well worth the effort I imagine to complete the hike.

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  9. Misery Ridge is quite a name for a trail. I love the pictures with the sunlight. Stunning.

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  10. The landscape is magical! I love the ruggedness. It’s so gorgeous! I’m sure the hike must have been worthwhile.

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  11. These pics are amazing! I’ve never even heard of Smith Rock but am sharing this post with my hubby right now. I think we’ll need to check it out one of these days.

    What camera equipment are you using?

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  12. You can also camp close to Smith Rock with a short walk to most of the climbing walls. I was able to make it here last year (even wrote a post about it), and I absolutely enjoyed the multi-pitch trad route. The following day, I climbed sport routes with friends. I hope to get back there in the fall since it is only a 6 hour drive. I wouldn’t climb in the summer because it gets a little too hot for my liking (it has a desert-like climate), so spring and fall seasons are optimal unless you do not mind the heat.

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  13. Love these pictures! I’m going to Oregon in August and the more I read about it, the more excited I get. Hoping to catch a few of the 7 Wonders – Crater Lake is a definite (as are Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast), but will unfortunately be missing the Painted Hills which look spectacular!

    Looks like you had a great time 🙂

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