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Smith Rock's Misery Ridge trail gets a face lift

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The Bulletin, October 17, 2000
By Deanna Darr

By winter, Misery Ridge may not be as miserable. Thanks in part to a $102,000 grant from the Federal Recreation Trails Program, several of the most popular hiking trails at Smith Rock State Park are being reworked to make their access easier and to cut down on erosion.

Trail reconstruction began in September with the realignment of the main trail leading into the park from the parking area. Commonly called the Cattle Shoot, the short, steep trail was originally built to help area recovery in the wake of a 1996 fire in the park.

That trail is now closed and a new trail with better grading and switchbacks has taken its place. And this week, youth work crews from the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council will be constructing split-rail fences along the path.

Across the Crooked River, the Misery Ridge trail, long known for its steep, rickety staircases and narrow path, is also undergoing a makeover.

The steps along the trail have been ripped out and work crews are rebuilding the trail in a more traditional fashion.

The grade along the trail has been lessened and specially-treated wooden risers are being put in to ease the climb to the top.

Last month, a new bench was even installed at the top of Misery Ridge, compliments of a movie crew filming in the area.

The crew from Los Angeles was in Central Oregon shooting scenes for the movie "Swordfish," starring John Travolta and Sam Shepard. A helicopter used to film scenes along the Crooked River was also put to use to ferry the bench to the top of the ridge.

Meanwhile, work on both the Cattle Shoot and Misery Ridge should be completed by Oct. 30. Trails throughout the park, however, will be closed periodically for hiker safety and to allow workers freer access to the trails.

The final part in this first phase of park trail work will be the rebuilding of the footbridge across the Crooked River.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is scheduled to work on the bridge from Nov. 5 to 15. The transportation department plans to enhance bridge footings and raise the bridge several inches. There will be no access to the park or trails across the river from the parking area during this work. Park manager, Fred Dawson said these improvements will help keep the deck of the bridge out of the river during floods and cut down on erosion.

Work in the park is ongoing and visitors are asked to be aware of construction dangers and to pay attention to signs throughout the, park relating to such.