Why This Oregon Hiking Trail Is Anything But Miserable

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  • Smith Rock State Park – Climbing Capital of Central Oregon
  • Hiking in Smith Rock State Park

Located in Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park, Misery Ridge Trail. Despite its unfortunate name, it sits in one of the most specular volcanic regions in the United States and explores Oregon’s largest ancient eruption. It’s a scenic route through some of the country’s most popular climbing territory and it’s a route you can even take your dog on.

Smith Rock State Park is accessible by car from the beautiful town of Bend in central Oregon. Bend is the perfect starting point for exploring Oregon’s stunning volcanic landscapes. While exploring central Oregon, make time to explore Crater Lake National Park – it’s famous for having what’s believed to be the bluest waters in the world.


Smith Rock State Park – Climbing Capital of Central Oregon

Smith Rock State Park is one of Oregon’s most beautiful state parks. It is located in the high desert of central Oregon and is open daily from dawn to dusk. Smith Rock itself is a 600 foot high ridge and overlooks a bend in the Crooked River.

  • Open: Every day from dawn to dusk
  • Location: Central Oregon

Visitors who wish to spend the night in Smith Rock State Park can stay in the camping area (although it can only accommodate tents).

Smith Rock State Park is known as one of the region’s premier rock climbing locations for people of all experience levels. It is home to steep cliffs made of basalt and tuff. It is even considered the cradle of modern American sport climbing.

  • Famous for: The birthplace of modern American sport climbing

Like much of central Oregon’s geology, Smith Rock is volcanic and formed about 30 million years ago. The formation was created when the ancient volcano collapsed, creating a 20-mile-wide caldera – although some formations date from more recent eruptions around 400,000 years ago.

  • Geology: Part of a 20 mile wide caldera

Related: This Is The Only Place You Can Swim In Crater Lake

Hiking in Smith Rock State Park

The park is home to many miles of hiking trails, the two main ones being the Summit Trail and the Misery Ridge. As the native vegetation of the area is very susceptible to damage, hikers are required to stay on the trails.

Smith Rock State Park is extremely popular for rock climbers and also has some great trails. The best times to hike are in the spring or fall, when it’s neither too hot nor too cold.

  • When to hike: Spring or fall (mornings are best)

Also keep an eye out for rattlesnakes – there can be plenty of them, especially by the river. There are also many other North American wildlife that can be found throughout the state park. Keep your eyes peeled for golden eagles, prairie hawks, mule deer, river otters and beavers.

Main trails:

  • Summit Trail
  • crest of misery

The park’s trail system also connects to other nearby trails managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

See current updates and other Smith Rock State Park information at the official Oregon State Parks website.

Related: Here Are Oregon’s Top-Rated Tourist Attractions Besides Cannon Beach

Misery Ridge Trail

Misery Ridge Trail is a 6 mile loop trail near Terrebonne and is a challenging course. It takes more than 3.5 hours for most hikers. The views open up when crossing the Misery Ridge Summit. Here one will have views of the Cascades including Mount Bachelor, the Three Sisters, Black Butte and others.

  • Length: 6 miles or 9.7 kilometers
  • Time to complete: Average 3.5 to 3.75 hours
  • Pets: Welcome but on leash
  • Difficulty: Moderate/difficult

The elevation gain on the trail is approximately 1800 feet and there is a $5.00 parking fee at the trailhead.

The landscapes with which one is greeted along this trail are spectacular and varied. This is a trail one is sure to return to for more hikes. The route is popular, so expect to see other people on the trail – maybe even crowds during peak months.

If one is planning to see the famed natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, be sure to visit central Oregon. It is the ideal place for a family road trip and to discover the wild side of the country.