John Day Fossil Beds Trails

Painted Hills, Oregon

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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.

John Day Fossil Beds Trails Professional Review and Guide

"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."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Painted Hills
Distance: 1.6
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Duration: Carroll Rim, Painted Hills Viewpoint, and Painted Cove trails, 1.5 hours;
Season: All year (avoid midsummer heat)
Local Maps: USGS Painted Hills, Picture Gorge West, Picture Gorge East

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Jun 2018