Pacific Northwest Hikes: Smith Rock


Volume 1: Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park.

When you think of Oregon you may think of lush green trees, the rocky coast, and beautiful snowy mountain trails. If you weren’t born and raised in the state, you might be surprised to find out that much of Central and Eastern Oregon is actually considered the high desert. Don’t let the lack of greenery fool you, Oregon’s high desert is just as mesmerizing as the rest of the state. If it is your first time exploring east of the Cascades, you need not look any further than Smith Rock State Park.

Smith Rock’s hiking trails are actually located in Redmond, Oregon. Redmond is just a hop, skip, and a jump north of Bend and east of Sisters. The sharp, red rocks are the favorite stomping ground of avid rock climbers and death-defying slackliners. If you don’t have the stomach for extreme sports, don’t worry, the park is home to some pretty awesome hikes. Hikers interested in a great workout will love Misery Ridge Loop. The three-mile hike starts with an extremely steep climb to the top of the ridge that will be sure to get your heart rate up. There are also more moderate hikes around the backside of the park for a more leisurely stroll.

Monkey Face Rock

The park is dog-friendly, but be sure to stay on the trails and watch out for rattlesnakes. You will also need to bring plenty of water, especially in the summer, remember you are in the desert. Plan to get out early, not only to avoid the heat but to dodge the crowds. Smith Rock has plenty of room for all, but parking can be quite the experience.

After you explore this Mars-like landscape, head to Redmond, Bend, or Sisters to enjoy an abundance of craft breweries and amazing eats.