Hike Distance: 8.4 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 537.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1269 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 70902 feet
Knowing that today I would be going over 12,000 miles toward my goal I decided that Smith Rock State Park would be a great place to accomplish this! I feel very fortunate and thankful that my body has held up for all these years of hiking and will continue to work hard to keep it in the best shape possible. I’ve had plenty of hiking related health issues, over the years, but have always sought medical help to make sure they didn’t have a long term impact.
Smith Rock is one of Oregon’s premiere outdoor attractions and has many miles of hiking trails and is a popular destination for rock climbing. The gorgeous Crooked River meanders through a beautiful landscape of volcanic rock. The rust color of the rock is further enhanced at sunsets, when it can turn a bright orange. A major attraction for rock climbers is that there are several thousand climbs and contains an amazing tower called Monkey Face.
All the attractions offered by this park results in massive crowds, especially in the summer. Since it was spring break for the state of Washington (most of Oregon was the previous week) the crowds were less than it could have been. That said, it seams that most of the crowds stay in the rock climbing areas in the center of the park or are limited to hiking the Misery Ridge Trail. As a result, we were fortunate to see a vastly reduced crowd for much of our hike around the periphery.
We started out the hike by heading down to the bridge over the Crooked River and then continued around the park in a counter-clockwise direction. We chose this direction as there is a very steep section covered in scree that is much easier to ascend then descend. Also, by going counter-clockwise we got the majority of the elevation gain out of the way in the first few miles.
In the first few miles the views of the park and snow covered peaks of the Central Oregon Cascades is breathtaking! The haze obstructed the view a bit but many the major peaks were visible from Mt. Jefferson down past South Sister. Truly a view to take in and burn into your soul!
After reaching the high point of the outer loop trail we came to a junction that goes across the north side of the park. The views of the mountain range, on this north side, are fantastic. We also got many great views of Mt. Jefferson from here.
After traversing the north side of the park we came around to the west side. From here we had many nice view of the Crooked River and also saw Monkey Face. There were many people climbing Monkey Face and we stopped to watch and take some pictures. We also spent some time just enjoying the gentle flowing of the Crooked River!
We finally wrapped around to the south side of the park and then made our way toward the bridge. It’s in this area that we saw most of the rock climbers, and stopped to watch and take pictures. It’s fun to watch the rock climbers but we have no desire to participate in this activity, but understand why so many people do.
We finally got back to our car and were so satisfied with this hike. The weather had been on the warmer side, with some wind. This will definitely be a regular stop for us when in the area! 🙂