When I first learned that Bend, Oregon, was high desert, I was expecting 3 weeks of sand and cacti. Imagine my surprise when I saw that it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful and lush forests I have ever seen, not to mention all the lakes nearby and the Deschutes River that runs right through downtown. Exciting, right? But I also felt a little lied to, I mean, what even qualifies the area as “high desert”? To me, Smith Rock is the answer to all those questions I was too embarrassed to ask the locals. Take a look:
From far away, Smith Rock looks like a solid mountain, but up close we were able to see that it’s actually made up of many different formations, with rivers and canyons spread throughout it. Alex told me he’d found us a “fun little hike”, so we packed our camelbaks and up we went! It wasn’t until the end that I found out the trail was named “Misery Ridge”. Don’t let the name scare you away, though! It’s only about a 4 mile loop with a 1,000 feet elevation gain. Pack lots of sunscreen! We had perfect cloud coverage that day, but I can see it getting toasty during the summer months.
If you’re into rock-climbing, this place was crawling with climbers and fun routes! While hiking up, Alex and I seriously regretted not bringing our gear. See if you can find the climbers in the second picture :
The views from the top are spectacular! For the first time, I was able to see just how many mountains there were in the area. We were also greeted by some beautiful trees (SHADE!), and the perfect spot to re-hydrate and enjoy the fruit of our hard work.
The way down is as beautiful as the way up. I kept finding myself putting my camera away only to take it out again a minute later. This trail took us way longer than it should have because we were both so snap-happy, but it was absolutely worth it. No need to rush, can I get an amen?
Smith Rock, thanks for the fluffiest cloud show I’ve ever experienced!
If you want to hike Smith Rock without the 1,000 feet elevation gain, there’s a trail that will take you along the perimeter of the rock. It’s also shaded and remains pretty flat throughout. Keep your eyes on the trees, we spotted quite a few wild Bald Eagles. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures because I was in jaw-dropping awe and feeling extra patriotic. ‘MERICA!
Never stop exploring,