Last weekend, we decided to spend the first part of spring break doing some short hikes in central Oregon. The weather was perfect for hiking with bright sunshine and highs in the 60s.
On our first hike, we visited Balanced Rocks. These rocks were revealed in 2002 when a wildfire burned down the surrounding forest. Since then, the Forest Service has established a short 1/2 mile walk to the balanced rock overlook. Once at the overlook, you can walk down into the balanced rocks to explore them up close, if you don’t mind a little scrambling along the loose terrain.
Behind the rocks, you can see part of the Cascade Range including Mt. Jefferson in the foreground and Mt. Hood way in the distance.
Balanced Rocks Hike with Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood
The short walk out to the rocks is suitable for all ages. Older kids can easily scramble down with you to view the formations up close.
A Kid-Friendly Hike
Here are some up-close views of the balanced rocks:
Balanced Rock and Mt. Hood
Balanced Rock Close-Up
Balanced Rocks with Tree in the Middle
To get to the Balanced Rock hike from Cove Palisades State Park, follow the signs towards Perry South campground. You’ll be on a paved road for about 12.2 miles until it turns to gravel. Drive another 0.3 miles and you’ll see a small turn-out on the right. Park here for the trailhead. The trailhead sign seems to have disappeared but you will see some posts, boulders, and a gravel path:
Balanced Rocks Trailhead
The next day, we decided to hike up Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rocks State Park near Redmond. Yes, the trail is actually called Misery Ridge due to the steep switchbacks. The trail is about 2/3 mile up to the top with stunning views of the Cascade Range.
Smith Rocks with Black Butte in the Background
Although the trail is steep, kids can definitely do this hike with you provided you have plenty of water and snacks. I highly recommend doing this hike before it is too hot outside. The trail down is often slippery due to the loose rock so take your time and watch your kids.
View along Misery Ridge Hike
A Little Hiking Dude!
Once on top, enjoy some snacks and the view of Cascade Range!
Cascade Range from Smith Rocks
A great family hike!
Misery Ridge Trail loops around the top
These 2 small hikes were the perfect start to spring. We really enjoy exploring all the beautiful places here in Oregon. If you have a favorite hike, let me know!