▶️ Smith Rock Park Rangers urge river wading to stop during bridge construction


Monday was the first day the Smith Rock State Park Bridge was closed, and Park Rangers are already seeing problems with visitors crossing the river to get to popular hiking and climbing trails.

“As tourists, we had a surprise,” said Arnaud, a French tourist. “We didn’t expect the bridge to be closed when we arrived this morning.”

It was an unfortunate surprise for tourists and travelers when arriving at Smith Rock State Park.

“We didn’t even know until we got over here,” said Simon Winter from Colorado and August Debeerri from California. “With a whole plan to get to different walls on different days.”

Some saw the closure signs and turned around to find a different path to different areas.

“We were climbing over at the North Point and didn’t even recognize the bridge was under construction until the afternoon Winter and Debeerri said. “So, it was pretty funny. To make the drive up only to be able to climb like a couple of routes here and not be able to climb any of the routes behind us and on the other side of the camera. Which is a bummer, but oh well.”

Others took a different route.

“We took the horse’s fork to cross the river, with paying attention not to slip over the way we crossed,” said Araud. “So, we were able to do the Misery Ridge Trail.”

Arnaud and his family from weren’t the only ones to make the trek across the river on Monday.

Smith Rock Park Manager Matt Davey says it was a common occurrence.

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“We were seeing a number of people wading across the river, which is very dangerous right now with that contractor trying to do some heavy machinery work in there,” Davey said.

The nearly 50-year-old worn-down pedestrian footbridge across the Crooked River is closed for up to six weeks.

Replacing the bridge is a must-do, according to Davey, and there are two environmental constraints on why it must be closed now.

“Which is an in-water work period and raptor nesting season,” said Davey. “So we really only had a limited between August and into the fall to get this work done.”

The park will remain open during construction, with hiking routes like the Rim-Rock, Rope-a-Dope, and the Homestead Trail are still available.

But crossing the river is something Park Rangers want visitors to refrain from trying and getting to popular spots like Misery Ridge and Monkey Face.

“So we are really trying to discourage people from wading across and getting too close to that work,” Davey said. “It’s for their own safety. For one, wading the river is not that safe. For another, it is protecting the natural resources over there, and if there were to be an emergency or something, we really don’t want to send emergency crews because they don’t have an easy way to cross that bridge either right now.”

Park Rangers say the new bridge will be 8 feet wide and provide visitors and first responders better access.


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