Hike Distance: 8.6 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 721.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1291 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 68212 feet
This is one of the finest areas for hiking in the Central Oregon area. As such, the crowds can be overwhelming, but on this Saturday it wasn’t too bad with plenty of spaces in the Rim Rock parking area. I believe the reason for less crowds was that many of the rock walls were still closed for nesting eagles?
We started by taking the Rim Rock Trail north where it meets the Canyon Trail. The Canyon Trail took us down to the bridge that crosses the Crooked River. After crossing the Crooked River we took the River Trail clockwise around the park. Along the way we met a park ranger that had a spotting scope set up for viewing of an Eagles Nest. It was fascinating to see the chicks up high in one of the fir trees.
As we continued on the River Trail we spent much time taking pictures of the Crooked River and rock walls of Smith Rock. At about the southern tip of the River Trail we saw a nice waterfall across the river. We continued north and got increasingly better views of Monkey Face, and also saw rock climbers in the mouth region. Truly a fantastic site. The River Trail turns into the Summit Trail at the trail intersection that comes from the Mesa Verde Trail. The Summit Trail climbs past some private property and switchbacks up towards Gray Butte. The views of the central cascades continue to improve as you gain elevation. Hiker traffic is much more sparse on the Summit Trail. I really enjoy the expansive views that are seen from the Summit Trail, and it didn’t disappoint!
We finally reached the intersection with the Burma Road trail, which is the high point of this loop hike. Breathtaking is the only word that comes to mind, and I didn’t want to start the descent on the Burma Road Trail. 😦 The Burma Road Trail is just a wide graveled road that also gives expansive views of Smith Rock, and is even more beautiful when done at sunset (amazing orange colors on rocks).
There is a point where the Burma Road Trail descends into the Wolf Tree Trail, and it’s not a nice experience, in our opinion. Steep scree like conditions that almost requires some use of your hands is what you’ll experience. Given this situation, we’d recommend going counter-clockwise around this loop because of the poor conditions on this section!
We continued to follow the Wolf Tree Trail and were able to get some fantastic pictures of Smith Rock. This trail also afforded the best views of rock climbers and was fun to stop and watch. We soon intersected the bridge over the Crooked River and headed back to our car on the Canyon Trail and Rim Rock Trail.
Hiking Smith Rock State Park must be on your bucket list! Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to be immersed in the beauty and for taking pictures. Your adventure here will give you great memories! 🙂