hike: Summit loop at Smith Rock State Park

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.

Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation gain: 1,200 ft.
Difficulty: moderate
Hike type: loop

Camping at Smith Rock in the spring has become an annual tradition for me and my friends. This high desert location is incredibly scenic and the camp area has a laid-back rock climber vibe that’s fun to hang out at. Learn more about the campground 

camping at Smith Rock State Park camping at Smith Rock State Park

The next day, we headed out from the campground to hike the Summit loop. The trails we took to complete this loop included the following: Rope deDope Trail, Canyon Trail, Wolf Tree Trail, Burma Road, and the Summit Trail.

Burma Road is visible from most of the park and looks like a giant zigzag on the side of a massive hill. It’s also fully exposed with no shade and can be very hot so it’s good to get an early start on this section.

Smith Rock State Park Summit Trail loop hike

Starting at the campground, we took the Rim Rock Trail to the Chute, crossed the bridge and took the Wolf Tree Trail around to the Burma Road. The crowds thin out in this section of the park.

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At the top of the Burma Road, enjoy expansive views of Smith Rock and the Cascades. On clear days you can see Mount Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Washington, North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, and Broken Top.

Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park

From here, take the Summit Trail and drop into a canyon behind the park’s famous spires. The trail switchbacks several times, then leads to views looking into the park.

Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park

Views through the rock peer down towards the Crooked River

Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park

The next section of trial reminds me of old western movies, with small shrubs covering the high desert hillsides.

Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park

At the west end of the loop, the trail turns and leads to a fantastic view of Monkey Rock.

Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park

Continuing on the trail, it gradually heads down to connect with the Mesa Verde and River Trails. From this point, you can continue on the River Trail and connect back to the Canyon Trail after crossing the bridge. A shorter but more difficult loop can be done by going up and over Misery Ridge.

When we reached the junction with the Misery Ridge Trail, my friends headed up the steep trail while I finished off the loop on the River Trail and back to camp.

Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park

Watching rock climbers attempt the sheer rock faces in the park is a nice bonus not found on most hikes.

Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park Summit loop hike at Smith Rock State Park