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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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