Smith Rock State Park is probably one of my favorite places in Central Oregon. I have been there several times, and one of my favorite trails to hike is the Misery Ridge Loop Trail.
I do have to admit that as I have gotten older the trail has gotten harder, but the views from the top are worth the effort of climbing up the trail.
To access the Misery Ridge trailhead, walk down into the canyon from the parking area and cross the bridge over the Crooked River. The sign marking the trailhead is straight ahead after you cross the bridge.
Misery Ridge Loop Trail - June 2013 - Smith Rock Photo Gallery
The trail begins the climb up to Misery Ridge immediately with switchbacks and in some places steps built into the trail. For me the steps actually make it a harder journey, but they were put there I believe to help with the fact there is a lot of loose rocks on this part of the trail which can make it just a little slippery.
After about 3/4 of a mile of hiking up switchbacks you will finally get to the top of the trail. There is a nice flat open rock at the very top of the trail which provides you with great views to the east and the south. From there you can simply go back down if you want, or you can continue on the trail on a flat grade around to the other side of the ridge, and eventually link up with the Mesa Verde Trail, and the River Trail which makes for a nice loop hike of just over four miles.
If you continue on the Misery Ridge trail you will come to one of Smith Rock State Park's most famous rock formations, "Monkey Face." While you can see the reason this formation got its name on most days, on my last visit the lighting was perfect to see the "Monkey Face" in the formation.
Soon after you reach "Monkey Face" the trail will begin its decent back to the canyon floor. You will reach the Mesa Verde trail, you can go left here for a shorter hike, or right for a longer hike, either way you will reach the River Trail which will take you back to the bridge where you started your journey.
For more information on this and other Central Oregon hiking trails visit the Oregon Outdoor Activities website.