camping: Smith Rock State Park
One of my favorite spring destinations, Smith Rock’s high desert area is a great location to kickoff camping and backpacking for the year.
We camped for two nights at the Bivouac Campground – popular with rock climbers. I’ve always loved the vibe at this camp area – everyone is so happy to be there, the tent area is quiet, and there are hot showers – perfect at the end of a hot, sweaty hike. We explored the trails near camp and hiked the Summit Trail – River Trail loop. On the way home, we made a quick stop to see Steelhead Falls on the Deschutes River.
When we arrived at noon on a Friday, we carried our gear from the parking area to find good spots in the camp area. There are no designated campsites – the entire area at the Bivouac Campground is open for setting up tents. My favorite locations are close to the rim, which is usually closed in the spring due to nesting bald eagles. It wasn’t closed this time, but we found good spots set back a bit from the rim.
The kitchen area at the campground has plenty of picnic tables and easy access to water and a kitchen cleanup station.
The Rimrock Trail is close to the campground and has great views of the park – perfect for a short walk in morning or at sunset.
The next day, we did the Summit Trail loop, starting on the Rope-de-Dope Trail to the Canyon Trail. After crossing the bridge over the Crooked River, we took the Wolf Tree Trail and wound around the river to the Burma Road. This was the first time I hiked up the Burma Road without sweating profusely thanks to the cooler temps. It’s usually quite a slog going up in the heat. At the top, we stopped for a long lunch break before continuing.
Now on the Summit Trail, we looped around the north side of the park. This section is above the rocky formations we had walked below on the Wolf Tree Trail and there are several side trails worth exploring.
The River Trail is the next section of this loop. It’s fascinating to watch rock climbers on Monkey Rock.
The River Trail winds gently all the way around the south end of the park. If you don’t have much time, this is a good choice for a quick hike with plenty of scenery.