The wonder of Central Oregon
This summer I found myself hiking a wonder! Smith Rock State Park is located in central Oregon’s High Desert and is the perfect stop-over for anyone on a road trip in the Beaver State. What amazed me the most was the sheer cliffs and the reddish-orange hue, but I was also surprised by the overwhelming crowds. Smith Rock has been labeled as one of the “Seven Wonders” of Oregon. As a consequence, don’t expect any kind of solitude, unless you start early in the day. For that reason, I postponed a hike to the next day. Besides, it’s a good idea to start early before the real heat sets in.
I decided to hike the Misery Ridge Loop which includes the Misery Ridge Trail to the summit and from there down the Mesa Verde Trail to the River Trail and back to the trailhead – a wonderful 4 miles round trip. The route is mostly easy to moderate although some sections are characterized as most difficult. There’s not a lot of shade on this hike. Instead, you’re getting plenty of scenic views of the Crooked River Canyon below and in the distance some of the major Oregon’s Cascade peaks, including Three Sisters and Mount Bachelor. Don’t forget to look up during your hike. You’ll probably notice several daring rock climbers with ropes and nerves of steel. Also, when you get to Monkey Face, a giant, self-standing pillar, it becomes clear why Smith Rock is a world famous climbing site. I’m sure Monkey Face is one of those must-do climbs for rock climbers.
You can reach Smith Rock State Park with just a 30 minutes’ drive from Bend.