If you are planning on seeing one of Oregon's most popular state parks, be sure to get there early. Smith Rock, located north of Redmond and just east of Terrebonne, is an extremely popular destination for most visitors to Central Oregon as well as those locals just looking to recreate, hike, or rock climb. The iconic rock formation is credited as being the birthplace of modern American sport climbing and is popular with traditional, multi-pitched and bouldering as well with over 1800 rock climbing routes within the park. Most visitors who are not climbers, will hike on many of the trails scattered around the park, some along the Crooked River and others over the rocks - the most popular being Misery Ridge.
Last Sunday we took a longer hiking route we had never done before - the full 7.5 mile loop around the park which included the Canyon Trail to Wolf Tree to Homestead to Burma Road to Summit Trail to River Trail. The total elevation gain was 1200 feet and we did the hike counter clockwise in order to climb the steep, but not difficult Burma Road which brings you to the high point of the hike early in the day. We arrived at the park before 8 am and already there were many cars parked in the limited parking lot. We paid our $5 park fee and enjoyed the morning hiking. The views after the rain the night before were wonderful and the clean air after the wildfire haze most welcome. The Cascades were hidden behind clouds, but every now and then we could catch a view of one of the peaks scattered with fresh snow.