Trails are rewarding at Smith Rock State Park in Oregon

TERREBONNE, Ore. – Navigating in middle age and trying to maintain my fitness by running 25-30 miles a week is a chore.

And as I get older, one thing becomes more and more difficult on my races: the ribs.

Lately I’ve been sticking to flat trails avoiding any sort of uphill challenge. On a recent Saturday, I looked this type of challenge in the face, looking at Burma Road in Smith Rock State Park.

While Smith Rock is best known as a rock climber’s mecca, the park’s running and hiking opportunities shouldn’t be overlooked. When the waterfalls of central Oregon are blanketed in snow this time of year, Smith Rock provides vertical challenges for runners throughout fall and winter.

That Saturday a 7 mile trail run with my 13 year old son Mason turned more into a hike / trail run. Burma Road was just too steep for me to keep running the whole way. But no matter how disappointed I was with not running, the entire climb was toned down by the pristine beauty of the area on a crisp, crisp fall day.

The loop route we chose, from Burma Road to Summit Loop to River Trail, allowed us to see as much of the park as possible, even from its highest vantage points – and no climbing was necessary. However, we were able to observe many climbers climbing the steep rock faces that make the park an attraction for sport climbing.

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