Directions: Take Highway 26 East to the town of Madras. Then get on 97 South and drive to the town of Terrebonne. Once in Terrebonne take a left onto Smith Rock Way. Take another left on 1st Street (1st becomes Wilcox). Take a left on Crooked River Drive and end at Smith Rock State Park.
We did this hike on Memorial Day weekend and it was BUSY. There are many different trail options here and we decided to do a scenic river hike on the recommendation of one of the Park Managers.
From the main parking area near the bathrooms take the Chute Trail down into the Crooked River Canyon. It’s quite steep heading down into the canyon and be sure to keep an eye out for snakes on the way down. Even though there were a lot of people on the trail we still saw a Rattlesnake sunning itself on a rock. The Chute Trail takes you down to a bridge that crosses the Crooked river and to a three-way trail option. Going straight is one way to get up Misery Ridge, and going left or right is the River Trail.
We went left on the River Trail and started heading down the East side of the ridge. You get great views of the Crooked River and flat out amazing views of the cliffs all around you. You follow the river the whole way on a nicely graded dirt and rock trail. One of the most interesting parts of this hike is seeing all of the rock climbers. Some of them are easy to spot and some are so high up you can barely see them. As you continue on towards the Southern tip you’ll pass many popular climbing areas such as Morning Glory and Phoenix Buttress.
Once You’ve reached the Southern tip there is a waterfall across the river. Rounding the southern tip you’ll pass more rock climbers and soon start seeing Monkey Face. Monkey Face is 350 feet tall and the top looks exactly like the face of a monkey. Soon you’ll come to a junction with the Mesa Verde Trail. This is the end of the hike. Turn around and head back the way you came.
We would caution that Smith Rock is a very exposed area and became really hot, we saw quite a few people struggling with the heat. Make sure to bring enough water and sunscreen on hot days.
There are many other trail options that we didn’t have time for, we’ll definitely be back in the future!
We highly recommend going to Juniper Junction (AKA Rockhard) on the way out for some huckleberry ice cream. It was delicious! It’s about a quarter mile from Smith Rock.
Distance: 5 miles (easy)
Elevation: 280 feet (easy)
Pet Friendly: Yes
Good For: All ages
Parking Fee: Yes a $5 state park fee.
Warnings: Snakes and falling