Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park is known for rock climbing, but after seeing the gorgeous single-track on TrailPorn I made a point to check out the trails on my recent trip to Bend.
I drove the 35 minutes from Bend to Smith Rock on a chilly spring morning and arrived at 7:30am with only one other car in the parking lot. I timed it perfectly and made my way down to the Crooked River just as the sun was beginning to light up the towering basalt cliffs. I turned left at the bridge and ran the rolling pleasant single-track River Trail to the junction with the Mesa Verde Trail.
The Mesa Verde Trail swiftly climbs up to the Misery Ridge Trail offering awesome views in every direction including plenty of views of “Monkey Face,” Smith Rock State Park’s most famous rock formation. I did not see another soul out on the trail until I got to the top of Misery Ridge. I think most people hike up to Misery Ridge from the opposite direction that I traveled since I passed a good 20-30 people on my way down making me thankful for my early start.
The descent back down to the Crooked River on the Misery Ridge Trail is steep with plenty of loose rock and gravel and was not very much fun for me. I slipped quite a few times despite wearing my rugged trail shoes and traveling super slow. Once back down to the river I wanted to keep running so I took off on the Homestead Trail that followed the river in the other direction and looped back around to the parking lot.
It was a pretty special morning considering it was my birthday and I was all alone in this gorgeous park for a good majority of my run plus it was my first time running 5 miles (although I stopped about one zillion times to snap photos) post-FAI surgery number two so yay!
I highly recommend the loop that I ran, but you could make it a little bit longer by running the entire River Trail and connecting with the Mesa Verde Trail at that point. See a map of the Smith Rock State Park’s Trails here.