Best Hikes at Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park is located in the high desert of Central Oregon. An internationally renowned location for rock climbing, the park also has plenty of trails for hikers who want to experience the majestic rock scenery.
The Crooked River winds through the park, creating a picturesque and completely unique setting for some of the best rock climbing in America and a few outstanding hikes as well. The park has many miles of trails that provide hikers with striking views of the river, the rock formations, and the surrounding landscape.
Like so many Pacific Northwest landscapes, these sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt were formed by volcanic activity, dating back about 30 million years. Eventually, the Crooked River cut its way through the rock to create the river canyon we have today, which rests beneath jagged, reddish colored rocks that tower some 800 feet above the pristine river at their base.
There’s no mistaking that this is the high desert, because the landscape is one of sagebrush and Ponderosa pine, and the summers can be quite hot. For heat lovers, summer may be the best time to visit, but for those who prefer cooler weather, spring and autumn bring a more temperate climate to this rugged wonder, when the sun is still bright, but the air is cooler and wildlife is more abundant… or at least more apparent.
Smith Rock State Park provides a day-use area that’s open year-round and includes a visitor center, restrooms, and picnic facilities. There’s also a tent-only campground, which offers outstanding views of the cliffs and valley.
Featured hikes at Smith Rock State Park
Misery Ridge loop hike
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation gain: 1,000 ft.
Hike type: loop
I Heart PNW trip report: Misery Ridge loop hike
The Misery Ridge and River Trails showcase the best highlights of the park, winding around the rock formations next to the river, and then all the way to the top, with sweeping vistas in all directions.
Summit Trail loop
Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
Hike type: loop
I Heart PNW trip report: Summit Loop hike
The Summit Loop is the longest hike at Smith Rock, featuring some of the best views by circling the park via the Burma Road, Summit and River Trails.
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