Hiking the River Trail to Misery Ridge
Smith Rock State Park, situated in the heart of Oregon, offers a spectacular adventure for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. In this article, we’re going to take you on a journey along the River Trail to Misery Ridge, a thrilling and picturesque hike that has become one of the most renowned experiences in Smith Rock State Park.
1. Smith Rock State Park – An Outdoor Paradise
Smith Rock State Park, often referred to as the “crown jewel” of Central Oregon, is celebrated for its diverse landscapes, accessibility, and the iconic Monkey Face rock formation. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a memorable day outdoors, this park has something special to offer.
2. The River Trail – A Scenic Beginning
Our adventure begins on the River Trail, a part of Smith Rock State Park that is as enchanting as it is accessible. This trail boasts a gentle terrain, perfect for hikers of all levels. It meanders along the breathtaking Deschutes River, providing a panoramic view of its waters and the impressive rock formations that line its banks.
The first half of this hike is relatively flat and follows a beautiful horseshoe shape around the river, allowing you to soak in the tranquil beauty of the area. You’ll find yourself surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing sound of the river, making it an ideal spot for a peaceful walk or a family outing.
3. Monkey Face Rock – A Natural Wonder
One of the most exciting highlights of this hike is the iconic Monkey Face rock formation. As you follow the River Trail, you’ll gradually approach this massive rock face, which eerily resembles a monkey’s visage. It’s not just a geological wonder; it’s also a challenge for rock climbers. The sight of climbers scaling its rugged surface adds an element of adventure to your hike.
4. The Ascent to Misery Ridge
After a leisurely walk along the River Trail, you’ll begin the ascent to Misery Ridge. As you leave the river behind, you’ll start to climb up the Mesa Verde Trail. The trail offers stunning views, but the best is yet to come. You’ll draw closer to the infamous Monkey Face rock as you make your way up the trail.
The path to Misery Ridge is characterized by a series of switchbacks, which, while challenging, promise breathtaking vistas. The exertion of the hike is more than rewarded when you reach the top of Misery Ridge.
5. Panoramic Views from Misery Ridge
Reaching the top of Misery Ridge is the pinnacle of your Smith Rock State Park adventure. The panoramic views that greet you are nothing short of breathtaking. You’ll stand amidst a rugged landscape, surrounded by towering cliffs, the Deschutes River below, and the lush Oregon wilderness stretching out as far as the eye can see.
The vista from Misery Ridge is a true visual feast. It’s a place where you can take in the splendor of Smith Rock State Park from a unique perspective, appreciating the grandeur of nature and the tenacity of the human spirit, as rock climbers dare to conquer its challenging walls.