Hello fellow trail creatures! I am excited to be hosting Northwest Trail Runner’s first Central Oregon adventure running exploration of 2019! One of the most significant reasons for starting Northwest Trail Runners was to give a wide and delightful array of opportunities for runners to expand their adventure running horizons and explore the infinite wild beauty that surrounds our PNW home… so let’s get started!
This stunning classic Central Oregon “loop” highlights the sweeping high desert wildscapes of Smith Rock State Park and Crooked River National Grassland. We will pass through solitudinous, sage-scented grasslands, panoramic high desert vistas, and the iconic volcanic tuff formations of Smith Rock State Park. This unique and spectacular corner of the high desert is both the birthplace of American sport climbing and the deathplace of an ancient volcanic caldera. This is a dramatic landscape, and your breath will be taken in more ways than one.
This is NOT a beginner-level run. This roughly figure-eight loop is approximately 17 miles with around 4,600’ of elevation gain. There are several earnest climbs and descents. However, you do not need to be an experienced trail runner to participate. We will be moving at a very chill pace with plenty of stops to take in the scenery.
Note: a couple of weeks before the run, I will send out a specific checklist of what to bring with you, a map and detailed route description, a current weather report, a GPX file, and a carpool meeting location.
We will depart Portland on Saturday, April 13th at 1:00pm to secure our campsites, which are first-come, first-served (more below under camping). The drive takes a bit over 3 hours. Once we have set up camp, we can go into Bend that evening for food, beverages, and conversation. I’m pretty sure that we will end up at some brewery because that’s what seems to happen around here. After that, starlight and shadows will lead us into a cozy, early slumber.
Our carpool meeting location in Portland will be determined once we have a good grasp of how many people are coming and where they are coming from. As always, please do not be late… we will plan on leaving for Smith Rock promptly to secure camping sites.
We will stay the night before at the Bivouac Campground in Smith Rock State Park. The Bivouac Campground is perched upon a plateau above the Crooked River. The campground offers stunning views of Smith Rock’s volcanic tuff cathedrals. The campground is a first-come, first-served, walk-in only tent site. There are restrooms, showers, and running water, as well as a picnic/cooking area by the parking lot. Please note that campfires are strictly prohibited. While I usually have not had issues with obtaining spaces at Smith Rock Bivouac Area, Skull Hollow Campground is nearby just east of Terrebonne in the chance that we need it.
We will start bright and early on Sunday, April 14th to take in the majesty and magic that is the desert sunrise. We will be going at a chill pace and waiting for runners at all junctions. This run is meant to be a slow and sociable run highlighting the Central Oregon high desert while taking in the unique biomes and dramatic landscapes of this stunning place. Plan on being out for 5+ hours. Also plan on having your mind blown and your soul stirred.
This is high desert country, which can be very hot, very cold, or both. It will also be lacking in water. Please plan on bringing enough food and water for 5+ hours. Again, you can find some solace in knowing that we will be taking an easy pace on this run.
After the Run:
We will gather our camping things and get some coffee, tea, kombucha, or whatnot at Red Point Climbing on the way back to Portland… so don’t forget your vessels!
If anyone has questions, please feel free to reach out to me or post a comment here. I can’t wait to see some of you for this unforgettable adventure run!