Moderate (to Monkey Face)
800 feet elevation gain
Open all year
Moderate (to Summit Trail)
1100 feet elevation gain
Left: Smith Rock
Smith Rock juts from the Central Oregon lava plains like an orange-sailed ship in the desert. Oregon’s most popular rock-climbing area, this state park challenges mountaineers with 3 miles of rhyolite cliffs and Monkey Face, a 300-foot-tall natural sculpture overhanging on all sides.
Hikers can experience Smith Rock’s scenic drama too. Start with an easy walk along the aptly named Crooked River as it curls past the base of Monkey Face. For a steep shortcut back, climb a new loop beside Monkey Face across Misery Ridge to cliff-edge views of a string of Cascade snowpeaks. For a longer loop, continue on the Summit Trail to even grander views.
The area is best in early spring, when high desert wildflowers bloom, or in winter when other trails are blocked by snow. Anytime you’re rained out of a hike in the Cascades, Smith Rock is likely to be a dry alternative. Just avoid July and August when the park bakes in 100-degree heat. Dogs are allowed only on leash.
To drive to the park, turn off Highway ...