Bridge Replacement Construction Will Cut Off Access to Popular Features at Smith Rock State Park

The pedestrian span is 50 years old and needs to be widened.

Construction will restrict access to some of the most popular hiking trails and climbing routes at Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon during the height of tourist season later this year.

Today, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced that the property would be getting a new, wider bridge that takes recreationalists on foot over the Crooked River. The exact dates of the project will be determined at a later time—the beginning of work will depend on the area’s golden eagle and falcon nesting season and streamflow—but are expected to fall somewhere between July and September, with the bulk of construction completed during the first two weeks of August.

Crews will not be installing a temporary crossing and Oregon Parks and Rec does not want people wading across the river because that could disturb sensitive habitat and endanger recreationalists. That means you will not be able to reach some of the location’s most sought-after features, like the 350-foot pillar Monkey Face, Morning Glory Wall and Asterisk Pass. And hikers will not be able to set out on one of Smith Rock’s most beautiful trails: the switchbacking Misery Ridge Loop, which offers stunning views of the Crooked River, rock formations and multiple well-known peaks in the Cascades.

If your go-to route is cut off this summer, you don’t necessarily need to cancel your plans. Smith Rock comprises more than 650 acres, which means there are plenty of places to explore that don’t use the bridge, including the Rim Rock, Homestead and Canyon trails and the North Point Loop.

“We know that this closure will have an impact on our park users, but our current footbridge must be replaced,” park manager Matt Davey stated in a press release. “Stop in to the welcome center, visit our website or go to SmithRock.com to learn about these other great areas. Thank you for your understanding and patience while this critical project takes place.”

Located near the entrance of the park, the current bridge was built nearly 50 years ago and reconstructed about two decades after that. The new span will measure 8 feet wide, about 2 feet wider than the original, and better accommodate not only visitors but also first responders, who are frequently summoned to the area for everything from sprained ankles to serious climbing accidents.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will update information on the footbridge closure dates and times on the Smith Rock webpage and through smithrock.com. The closure is expected to last four weeks, barring any delays.