John Day Fossil Beds Trails

Painted Hills, Oregon 97741

John Day Fossil Beds Trails

John Day Fossil Beds Trails Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"In the rolling, juniper-dotted hills of north-central Oregon are several isolated pockets of colorful volcanic ash and clay. These places have gained fame in the scientific community, because they preserve a remarkably complete fossil record of North America’s plant and animal life over the last 55 million years. But you do not have to be a paleontologist to appreciate this region; admiring the colorful scenery takes no expertise. Although most of the trails are short, by combining several hikes you can enjoy two full days of very scenic hiking. Note: Collecting fossils is prohibited on national monument land.

For the best overview of the Painted Hills, take the well-graded Carroll Rim Trail from the small pullout beside the ridge-top road junction. It begins from the north side of the road, then makes one long switchback up an open, sun-exposed hillside to a ridge-top viewpoint at .8 mile. From here you have a thrilling view of the colorfully striated hills."

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Trail Information

Painted Hills
Nearby City
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
Carroll Rim, Painted Hills Viewpoint, and Painted Cove trails, 1.5 hours;
All year (avoid midsummer heat)
USGS Painted Hills, Picture Gorge West, Picture Gorge East
Local Maps