What a view! Monkey Face and Central Oregon.

What a view! Monkey Face and Central Oregon.

Smith Rock State Park is probably one of my favorite places in Central Oregon. I have been there several times, and one of my favorite trails to hike is the Misery Ridge Loop Trail.

I do have to admit that as I have gotten older the trail has gotten harder, but the views from the top are worth the effort of climbing up the trail. But if you are up to the challenge, grab your favorite Hydration Pack or Hydro Flask, check out some hiking tips, and head over to Smith Rock!

To access the Misery Ridge trailhead, walk down into the canyon from the parking area and cross the bridge over the Crooked River. The sign marking the trailhead is straight ahead after you cross the bridge.

Misery Ridge Loop Trail – June 2013 – Smith Rock Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of hiking the Misery Ridge Loop Trail at Smith Rock State Park.

The trail begins the climb up to Misery Ridge immediately with switchbacks and in some places steps built into the trail. For me the steps actually make it a harder journey, but they were put there I believe to help with the fact there is a lot of loose rocks on this part of the trail which can make it just a little slippery.

After about 3/4 of a mile of hiking up switchbacks you will finally get to the top of the trail. There is a nice flat open rock at the very top of the trail which provides you with great views to the east and the south. From there you can simply go back down if you want, or you can continue on the trail on a flat grade around to the other side of the ridge, and eventually link up with the Mesa Verde Trail, and the River Trail which makes for a nice loop hike of just over four miles.

If you continue on the Misery Ridge trail you will come to one of Smith Rock State Park’s most famous rock formations, “Monkey Face.” While you can see the reason this formation got its name on most days, on my last visit the lighting was perfect to see the “Monkey Face” in the formation.

Soon after you reach “Monkey Face” the trail will begin its decent back to the canyon floor. You will reach the Mesa Verde trail, you can go left here for a shorter hike, or right for a longer hike, either way you will reach the River Trail which will take you back to the bridge where you started your journey.

January 2013 Smith Rock Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of Smith Rock from January 2013.

Smith Rock Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of various visits to Smith Rock over the years.

Smith Rock hiking trails

View a PDF of hiking trails at Smith Rock State Park

Vital stats

Due to the uniqueness and fragile aspect of the park, park rangers enforce the animal leash law and strongly encourage all park users to stay on trails.

$5 daily day-use fee or buy a 12-month permit for $30 or a 24-month permit for $50. These 1- and 2-year permits are good at all state park day-use areas.

Walk-in bivouac camp (no fires allowed). Campsites are first-come, first-served. Call (541) 548-7501 or (800) 551-6949 for information.

Note: Open fires prohibited at all times. There is a designated place for cooking with propane and white gas stoves. Cooking is not allowed anywhere else in the park. Gas lanterns are also prohibited. Smoking is only allowed in vehicles.

Misery Ridge Loop Trail


View Misery Ridge Loop Trail – Smith Rock State Park in a larger map

Hydration Packs, Hydro Flasks & Hiking Tips

Hydration Packs help Outdoor enthusiasts stay hydrated without having to carry a water bottle. and give the hiker hours of hydration. You can find a wide variety of hydration packs at Amazon.com that will suit the need of almost every hiker and outdoor enthusiast.

If you prefer not to carry a hydration pack, but instead prefer to carry a couple water bottles, I recommend purchasing a Hydro Flask from Amazon.com. Hydro Flasks will keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours. Perfect for hiking.

What do I carry? Well both, because I like having lots of water on a hiking outing. And don’t forget to check out this list of hiking tips for some of the other essential items you should always have when out hiking.