- Elevation: 1,200 feet
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- We displayed our NWFP at the sno-park
We did this hike as a part of our "Bend Weekend." We did Smith Rock the day before with friends, Maria and Jake, and ventured here on Sunday. To get here, drive 20 minutes west of bend on Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway (towards Mount Bachelor). Park at Dutchman Flat Snow-Park. We displayed our NW Forest Pass, but I'm not sure that was necessary. Let me preface this by saying the mountain was covered in snow, and we didn't know where we were going. We just followed trails up and passed a few snow-shoers, so we figured we must be onto the right path. It took a few hours to reach the summit, mainly because I am a slow hiker and stop to take lots of pictures. The last push was pretty steep, but all in all this was a fairly easy hike (however, you are gaining elevation the entire time).
Smith Rock State Park is a fantastic place to spend the day. If you leave Portland early enough, you can get there before noon and you can be in Bend by dinner time! The drive getting there is nice. There are several choices but we like to take Hwy 26 over Mount Hood which shoots you right out into the high desert on the other side. If you are a Weisinger, you will want to make a quick stop at the Indian Head Casino in Warm Springs! When stopping there with Aaron and his parents, they taught me a good trick: you can get free coffee in casinos. This is a secret I will most definitely use in the future. You'll take a right onto Hwy 97 and, from there, you take a left turn towards Smith Rock State Park (from here, there are signs all the way there). Once you get there, spend a few minutes in the nature center there (it's in a yurt). It is small but very informative about the surrounding geology. The rock is made from volcanic tuff (consolidated ash). The tuff is 30 million years old. There is ash from Mount Mazana (the volcano that is now Crater Lake) there. There are various colors and the rock formation is dynamic on it's own. I would highly recommend hiking up misery ridge to the top of the rock. It takes about 30 minutes and the views are well-worth the climb. On a clear day, you will see the Three Sisters, Mount Jefferson, Three-fingered Jack, Black Butte, Broken Top Mtn. and Mt Hood. On the backside, you will see Monkey Face. You will know what it is when you see it! It's steep coming down and quite rocky with slippage. You'll then follow the Crooked River around the rock formation until you reach where you started.
As far as camping goes, there is a climbers bivouac just outside the park. From what I've been told and looked up, this is not ideal for camping. You can't have fires and it's really for rock climbers that essentially are living there. It's good if you are literally just looking for a place to crash.
A better option is to drive into Bend and get dinner and have a beer. My favorite spot is 10 Barrel Brewery. Good food and good beer with outdoor seating and a fire is almost always going. It is ALWAYS busy, plan on an hour wait to be seated, but it's worth it.
The Hike (Misery Ridge Loop):
I moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2012. I quickly identified myself as a hiker. I want to document my experiences so that I can refer to them for myself and others to provide the best hiking experience. I also hope to learn more about hiking from others comments and recommendations.