Hike and Camp at Smith Rock
Oregon › Bivouac Campsite Area
Added by Jessica Dales
- Accessible year round, hike, and camp without any technical skills
- Pick a trail map up in the park or get one off the park's website
- Duration: two-plus hours for the six-mile loop with stops to take in the sites
Park your vehicle in the bivouac parking area and hike 200 yards west to the tent campsites. Set up your home away from home at one of the undesignated cliff side campsites overlooking the park.
Although it is famous for rock climbing, Smith Rock also boasts an extensive trail system. The best hike meanders along the Crooked River, then over the top of well-named Misery Ridge, and eventually loops around the entire park.
From the bivouac campsite area head down the 0.4 mile Rope-De-Dope Trail into the canyon until you reach the Canyon Trail. Head west along the Crooked River until you cross a footbridge that leads to a junction with a number of trail heads. From here you can choose your own adventure! But you should head straight up the steep 2/3 mile Misery Ridge Trail. Take a minute at the summit of Misery Ridge (elev. 3,360’) to enjoy the 360 degree views of the park and surrounding landscape. Continue along Misery Ridge until you see the Monkey Face rock formation, take your requisite photograph, and then head down Mesa Verde Trail until you hit the River Trail. The River Trail winds along Crooked River and around the southern tip of the park. Follow the River Trail back to the footbridge. You can end your loop here, and head back to Rope-De-Dope the way you came, or you can add about a mile onto the loop by continuing on the Wolf Tree Trail, crossing the Horse Ford, and heading back on the Homestead Trail.
Completing the loop may sound complicated with all the different little trail names, but circumnavigating the park is actually very intuitive once you start! Most of the time one trail simply transitions into another trail without the need to make any navigational decisions at all!
- Set up a cozy basecamp with killer views at the walk-in bivouac area campground
- Explore and circumnavigate the 650-acre park on any number of interconnected trails throughout the park
- The trail is rated difficult over the top of Misery Ridge, but easy along the river
- 10 Essentials
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Hiking Gear
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Bungee Jump Near Smith Rock
Smith Rock is beautiful to hike and camp. I highly recommend making it a stop on your Oregon vacation. But, if you are looking for a little more of an adrenaline rush while visiting Smith Rock, you can drive ten minutes north on Hwy 97 to the Peter Skene Ogden Viewpoint at the High Bridge over the Crooked River Gorge. There you can bungee jump off the 300 foot platform that over looks the beautiful gorge and cascade mountains. It is the highest commercial bungee in North America!
Beautiful hiking and trail running!
Smith Rock is a tremendous area to hike around, even for non-climbers. It's hard to go wrong when picking a trail, since they all lead to unique views of the Crooked River or Smith Rock itself. Misery Ridge is especially awesome because of the views it provides out to the Cascades (but it is a steep trip!). All of the trails are also great for trail running, although you will want to be prepared for some steep sections getting down to the river. If you're up for a serious challenge, you can also run over Misery Ridge - just be careful on the way down since the trail is steep and covered in loose gravel. Another tip - camp for free at nearby Skull Hollow! It's a BLM area and while there is a fee campground, the main road continues into the grassland and there are tons of free campsites all along the road. You can access the area off Lone Pine Road, a couple miles from Smith Rock (and you can find it easily on Google Maps).
I was here during the summer and it's very dry and hot, so get an early start on this one and drink lots of water. There's a water fountain right before you cross over the bridge. Make sure to fill up before and after! Won't lie, that first mile hiking up Smith Rock was hard. It gets real hot, real fast. There's not much shade to rest in. But after the first mile the rest is a breeze. Absolutely breathtaking. You won't regret it!
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