The pedestrian bridge to the most popular attractions at Smith Rock State Park will not reopen as planned this week. On Sept. 19, the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department announced that construction delays will keep the span closed through September—perhaps even into mid-October.
The bridge that leads people over the Crooked River to some of the site’s most popular hiking trails and climbs was removed Aug. 14. Built some 50 years ago, that structure was basically worn out and needed to be replaced. The new crossing will be a little larger at 8 feet wide, which will help accommodate not just visitors but emergency responders who are often summoned to the park for rescues—particularly climbing falls.
During the building process, a wooden support beam was damaged while workers hauled it into the canyon. That meant every other beam that followed had to be brought down toward the base of Smith Rock more slowly and cautiously. In addition to that holdup, the beam that was banged up still needs to be inspected and then either fixed or completely replaced.
“We apologize for the delay, and we continue to ask for patience during this highly complicated project,” park manager Matt Davey stated in a press release. “We’re working hard to create safer access for future visitors with a bridge that will accommodate all of our guests and emergency responders.”
There is no temporary bridge in place during the project, and Oregon State Parks and Recreation does not want people wading through the water because that could disturb sensitive habitat and simply endanger recreationalists.
That means you will have to wait a bit longer to reach some of the location’s most sought-after features, like the 350-foot-tall 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, you don’t necessarily need to cancel your plans. Smith Rock comprises more than 650 acres of land, much of which is still accessible while the span is being replaced. Check out the park’s website to find alternative routes to explore.