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Monkey Face and Misery Ridge are two of the most popular features of Smith Rock State Park and are part of the popular Misery Ridge Loop.  At almost any daylight moment, rock climbers will be seen scaling up the west side of the rock faces next to the Misery Ridge Summit. “The trail along the river is also scenic and where you can pause to eat a gel and watch the rock climbers,” states Renee Janssen, Smith Rock Ascent Race Director, where the loop is also the 4-mile course.  “You’ll run right past Monkey Face, the iconic rock column, on both Misery Ridge and the River trails.”

 

Misery Ridge Trail is a difficult but beautiful climb

 

The Misery Ridge loop may only be four miles, but its a beautiful and challenging way to get the highlights of Smith Rock.  Start the loop at the Welcome Center and head to the Overlook trail. Follow the paved trail to the Chute Trail and head down to the Crooked River.

After the bridge, continue straight up the scree and stairs of the Misery Ridge Trail for a half-mile climb with almost 700′ of ascent to the Misery Ridge Summit.  Enjoy the views of the park and the Cascade peaks of Central Oregon before descending a quarter-mile of switchbacks to the Mesa Verde Trail junction. Turn right on Mesa Verde where views of Monkey Face come into play.  In four-tenths of a mile, turn left on the River Trail for a flat, smooth two-mile section.

 

Monkey Face from the Misery Ridge Summit

 

Follow the bend of the Crooked River past the rock climbing sections and back to the bridge.  Head back up Chute and Overlook back to the Welcome Center to complete the loop.