NUT50k2020

 

Smith Rock State Park is located in Central Oregon just north of Redmond near Terrabonne.  The high desert park is known for its thrilling cliff formations that offer world-class rock climbing.  The Crooked River winds its way through the layers of rock on its way to Lake Billy Chinook.

Smith Rock is also a fabulous place to run. “There is a large variety of trails and so much to see along the way,” exclaims Renee Janssen of Go Beyond Racing. “You can keep it short and do the Misery Ridge loop, which does involve significant climbing up and down, but gives you some of the best views in the park. It is not a miserable trail or ridge!”

Smith Rock offers views of the Three Sisters and other mountains in the Cascade Range (photo: Paul Nelson @trailjunkiephotos)

Winter can be tough for trail runners in Central Oregon, but Smith Rock can be a respite for the snowy trails of Bend.  “Smith Rock is a great place to run because of the views of the Cascades, the rock climbing cliffs, weather – you can typically run at Smith year-round,” declares Janessa Taylor from Alpine Running.  “The trails are well maintained and offer some good elevation gain in the winter months.”
“Smith Rock pretty much offers anything a trail runner would like from a run. Sweet single tracks, rough and rocky technical climbs, plenty of vertical training options all in a very special natural setting,” remarks Bend trail runner Saulius Eidukas (@atrailrunner).  “I like to run at Smith Rock and the surrounding BLM land when I need elevation gain in my training but can’t access the nearby Cascade Mountains. This is especially true in the winter and early spring months.”  Make sure to check the conditions before heading to Smith Rock on the park webpage.
The Redmond Chapter of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance works in cooperation with local land managers and property owners to protect and maintain recreation opportunities throughout the region.

Smith Rock State Park provides a unique experience to trail runners in the Pacific Northwest (photo: Trevor Lyden)

Smith Rock Trail Runs

Misery Ridge Loop –  The most popular trail in the park is 4 miles long with some incredible views of the Cascades.  It’s also great for watching climbers on Monkey Face and other formations in the park.

Gray Butte – An option for a longer route is to run to the 5000′ summit of Gray Butte.  There are several trail options to get there using trails and jeep roads on BLM land outside the park. Two routes using one of Taylor’s favorite trails, the Rope-De-Dope are a 25-mile loop and a 13.5 mile out and back version from the Welcome Center.

Trails Near Smith Rock

Cline Buttes and Maston are trail systems between Redmond and Tumalo that provide another good winter spot to hit some sandy trails and gravel roads to get good miles and vertical running.

The newer Tumalo Canal trail system is also a nice spot to run. “It’s pedestrian and horse traffic only (and the horses have their own trails), says Janssen.  “There’s a spot on the Whiskey Still Ridge trail with a little wooden bench and stunning views of the Three Sisters. It’s a nice place to be during sunset, says Janssen. Another thing that is nice about these trails is that they often are still very runnable in the winter.”

The Radlands are 8 plus miles of trails from the Redmond Area Parks and Recreation District located just East of Redmond.  The trails are similar to Maston in the fact that they are flat and fast.

 

Smith Rock Ascent racers on the River Trail along the Crooked River (photo: Paul Nelson)

Trail Races

Smith Rock Ascent has been around since 2013. “We originally started with just the 15M route that takes runners up to the top of Gray Butte and has a total of 3,000 feet of gain,” discloses Janssen.  “The next year, we added the 50K, 4-miler and kid’s race. The popularity of the races kept growing, so starting in 2019, we turned it into a two-day event with the 50K on Saturday and the 15-mile and 4-mile on Sunday. There are free kids fun runs both days (which the racers miss out seeing since they are on course then, but all of us at the finish line say it is a highlight of the weekend). The Smith Rock Ascent races are special because Smith Rock is special. There’s nothing like it elsewhere in Oregon, with the huge rock faces jutting up from the edge of the Crooked River. You could easily think you are in Utah or Arizona with all the rock structures. And with this race occurring in the spring, you are treated to a greener version of the desert, including some amazing wildflowers. All the races start and finish inside the State Park, on the grassy picnic area near the edge of the cliff. Watching the sunrise from here race morning is incredible. And it’s a great place to relax and hang out after your run as you cheer other racers across the finish line and watch the climbers across the river as they ascend the big walls. We feed all the racers and volunteers with the best build-your-own burrito bar you’ll find and the camaraderie at the end makes this race worth running again and again.”

Run The Rock has 4 different race distances: 50M, 20M, 50K, and Half Marathon. “It is the only 50 Miler and 20 Miler at Smith Rock and the Crooked River National Grasslands,” declares Taylor.  “The 50M and 20M (which summits Gray Butte) starts and finishes at Skull Hollow – this is the only race that does so. It makes for a super cool start and finish area outside of the park where runners can park and camp for the weekend. The following day (Sunday), we start/finish at Smith Rock State Park and hold the 50K and half marathon. Run The Rock is an old school trail race with the local community volunteering and the local high school cross country team as the beneficiary. It’s family-friendly and dog-friendly too. Each participant receives a custom cut metalworks piece. It’s also our backyard, so it’s cool to be able to hold a race on our home trails. Smith has been a favorite place of ours since the late 80s.”

Alpine Running will have a new trail series this Spring on Wednesday evenings and May 6 is the Smith Rock trail run and April 29 starts from the Maston Trailhead.

The Bend Trail Series from Go Beyond Racing has used Maston and Tumalo trails for its races.

Lastest Not Fastest is a unique event from Go Beyond Racing that each runner must complete a 4.5-mile loop in the Tumalo Canal Historic Area in one hour to continue in the race.

Mastondon by Superfit Productions is a 10ish mile run using the Maston Trail System.

The Redmond Turkey Trot is a 5k and 10k that starts and ends at the fairgrounds but utilizes trails and dirt roads surrounding Redmond.

Participants at Run the Rock (photo: Trevor Lyden)

Trail Running Groups

Redmond Oregon Running Klub (RORK), Central Oregon Running Klub (CORK) in Bend, and Running Klub (PORK) out of Prineville in Central Oregon are running clubs in the area that occasionally meet at Smith Rock for a run.

 

CORK Youth coach Max King uses Smith Rock for many of his training runs (photo: Paul Nelson)

Coffee

SPC Redmond Hotel – The newly renovated hotel serves Backporch Coffee from Bend, the favorite coffee of Alpine Running, and has a super cool rooftop bar and small plate options according to Taylor.

Redpoint Climbers Supply in Terrebonne offers a little bit of everything, including coffee and beer.

Proust Coffee in Redmond serves coffee from Lone Pine Coffee Roasters and is known for its Liège waffle pastries.

Coho Coffee in downtown Redmond offers coffee and baked goods.

Smith Rock Coffee Roasters, LLC must be mentioned when writing about Smith Rock.  It’s a drive-through roaster in Redmond that also serves breakfast sandwiches.

For those visiting from the Portland metro area, stop in at Great Earth Cafe in Madras. “We spot here to eat just about every trip to Bend,” claims Janssen.

Brewpubs

Cascade Lakes Brewing 7th Street Brew House in Redmond serves its featured Godsmack IPA and other beers with a menu of exceptional pub food.

Terrebonne Depot is closest to the park for those looking to get food quickly.

Wild Ride Brewing Co. is a family-friendly taproom and brewery in downtown Redmond that has great outdoor seating on those pleasant Central Oregon nights.

General Duffy’s Waterhole is a veteran-owned pet-friendly establishment with several beers and food carts.

The Vault Taphouse is the home of Kobold Brewing is an all-ages place to grab a beer and a taco from the Westside Taco Co.

The Bite is one of Janssen’s favorite things about running at Maston and Tumalo is stopping in at The Bite afterward. The food cart pod/indoor/outdoor bar is great at all times of the year.

 

Winter running can be dicey but most of the time manageable (photo: Saulius Eidukas @atrailrunner)