Get the dirt on spring trail running at Smith Rock

May 30, 2016

Guest blogger Lucas Alberg literally wrote the book on trail running in Bend and Central Oregon. This is his take on trail running fun to be had at Smith Rock.

Springtime is the Right Time to Trail Run at Smith Rock

by Lucas Alberg

Smith Rock State Park is predominantly known for it’s climbing. Thousands of routes snake up and down the gorgeous red-hued volcanic tuff throughout the park. These iconic spires draw in climbers from all over the world throughout the year to challenge themselves on climbs of all levels. 

For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, however, the park also offers a perfect spot for springtime trail running. With summer vacation season not quite in full swing, the springtime and early summer months offer an optimal time to explore the park sans the masses of visitors. 

Misery-Ridge-Trail-Loop at Smith Rock State Park
Misery-Ridge-Trail-Loop at Smith Rock State Park

And without the heat of summer. The Misery Ridge Loop is the most obvious choice for trail runners.  

A short but steep 3.7-mile loop takes runners along the river, nearly face-to- face with the iconic Monkey Face spire, up and over the ridge and back to the parking area. If you’re in a pinch for time but still want a quad burner with a payout in views, this is your ticket.

If you’re looking for more miles, more climbing and even more scenery, the Summit Loop is the best choice. This 7.3-mile trail follows the meandering river to the back of the park and quickly loses most visitors in the process.

The backside of the park provides ample views of the Cascades and surrounding Central Oregon landscape and allows for trail runners to experience the park in its most natural, quiet state.

trail running on Summit Trail at Smith Rock State Park

trail running on Summit Trail at Smith Rock State Park

Burma Road Trail at Smith Rock State Park vista
Burma Road Trail at Smith Rock State Park vista

With over 1,100 feet of climbing, runners should be prepared to sweat, but the views from the top of Burma Road are worth it.

Burma Road Trail at Smith Rock State Park steep scree trail running warning
Burma Road Trail at Smith Rock State Park steep scree trail running warning

Once at the high point, runners quickly descend the dirt road and cut back over to the main park staying on the Burma Road Trail down steep scree.

This is the loop’s only technical section where runners should watch their footing. After that, it's flat along the Wolf Tree Trail back to the bridge and up and out of the park on the Chute Trail.

For those masochistic runners (you know who you are, all you ultramarathoners), why not do both? Adding the Misery Ridge Loop to the Summit Loop tacks on another 700 feet of climbing in less than a mile and adds up to a total of just over 10 miles.

Check out these recommendations and other options to explore other sections of the park and beyond here on SmithRock.com.

trail runner on River Trail at Smith Rock State Park
trail runner on River Trail at Smith Rock State Park
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About the author:


Lucas Alberg is a native Kansan who ventured west after college in pursuit of outdoor adventure in the mountains. A distance runner since his youth, Lucas took to trail running when he moved to Portland in 2001.

After exhausting the trails in the northwest part of the state, he moved to the sunnier side of the Cascade Mountains and Bend in 2011. Since then, he has been eagerly exploring Central Oregon’s diverse geography and gobbling up miles on the area’s vast network of trails.

 

Photo courtesy of Nate Wyeth


Trail Running Bend and Central Oregon is the first guidebook for the region written specifically for trail runners. With a focus on the area’s best loop trails and a mix of popular and relatively unknown options, this book will prove to be an indispensable resource for locals and visitors alike.

Lace up your shoes, pack your maps and your essentials, and get ready to experience some of the nation’s best trail running in Bend and Central Oregon!  

-Organized by season for year-round running recommendations
-Detailed driving directions to each trailhead
-GPS-based trail maps and elevation profiles
-Ratings for scenery, crowds and difficulty
-Turn by turn descriptions for running routes

Distributed around Oregon at local and regional outdoor stores, running shops and bookstores. You can also find copies on Amazon, Powel’s Books, Target and Costco among others.

Photo courtesy of Nate Wyeth

Photo courtesy of Nate Wyeth