Smith Rock State Park
A lesser known park by many, but to those that live in the area or have had to the opportunity to visit know that this place is nothing short of magical. A climbers dream, a hikers paradise, and it constantly made me wonder why this place isn’t talked about more. Smith Rock State Park is located in central Oregon outside of Terrebonne off of Highway 97. When I visited during the middle of March, I actually wasn’t even planning on making this a stop, but it just happened to work out. I randomly saw the park on the map, and knowing that it was a cool place from the famous solar eclipse photo I knew I had to check it out.
It was night time when my friend Joe and I were driving south through central Oregon when I first found out that we were near the park. After me describing how little I actually knew about the park to hime except that it was a beautiful place with amazing rock formations, we decided to go.
Before driving over the next morning all I knew was that I wanted to find a good spot to watch the sunrise either by hiking or a drive up location, but after doing as much research as I could, I couldn’t find anything that had a good recommendation. After looking on the Apple Maps app I figured out that the parking lot was on the east end of the park so I figured when we get there I would just figure out where I wanted to be. To my surprise I scored big time! Although you could, you don’t even need to hike to get one of the best views as the sun rises. By driving to the parking lot on the east end and walking to the Rim Rock Trail on a clear day, you’ll see sunrise like something out of Yosemite as first light hits these eastern walls. I thought I’d be scrambling to find a nice location with little time to shoot, but this was such an amazing sight that I hardly had to work for. Like I said although you could hike, I honestly wouldn’t recommend it because watching the shadows fade on these walls has got to be better in my opinion than being up higher and facing east toward mostly flat land. They call the wall on the right side of this photo above the Morning Glory Wall for good reason.
The one hike I did from the photo above was recommended by a local resident because he told us that getting to the top would only take us roughly 20 minutes.
From the Canyon Trail starting at the parking lot we took Misery Ridge to the summit. When I did it in the middle of March the trail toward the top was almost complete ice, but other than some careful maneuvers it wasn’t all that hard. However, having spikes would have definitely been useful. If I would have had more time to spend in the park I would have hiked down the western side to do the loop back around to where we started, but that will have to be for another visit. I do think that hiking Misery Ridge was the best one we could have chosen, and all thanks to that local resident.
On a side not he also told us that the park would get very busy on the weekend, but because we were there during church it was mostly starting to pick up as we were leaving.
The only thing that really stood out as a safety concern other than being careful on the edge of cliffs was the ice we had to deal with hiking up. Being that it was the middle of March, I could tell that it was melting during the day and freezing again at night which is was made it extremely difficult and slick to make it up the last few switchbacks of Misery Ridge. If you are hiking during a season you might see ice I would recommend spikes if you have them. It will make it a much easier experience. Lastly, the park recommends hiking with plenty of water for the summer heat. Even though I don’t think the trails here are particularly long, I would always be prepared just incase.
On another side note people that have visited reached out to me and said that it was such a different unique thing to see Smith Rock with snow in my photos. For not even planning on visiting these photos were my favorites from the trip, and I would definitely not overlook hiking Misery Ridge during the winter.
As always find the most up to date information and conditions on the official park website.