Unforgettable Experience with the Painted Cove Trail

Unforgettable Experience with the Painted Cove Trail

Location: Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Round Trip: 0,25 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 40 feet
GRS Coordinates: N 44 39.723 W 121 43.278
Visitor’s Information Open: all year round

No Pass Required

Driving approximately 9 miles northwest from the town of Mitchell, Oregon, will bring you to the most beautiful, in our opinion, part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument – to Painted Hills Unit.

The vibrant colors of its hills, the unreal beauty of its unique picturesque landscape draw the attention of people from all over the world throughout many years. And this is not to mention its geological and paleontological value.
There are several short trails meandering through the Painted Hills Unit, showing the visitors different views of the area. One of the most interesting trails is the Painted Cove Trail. This 0,25 mile loop trail provides the visitors of the unit with a close view of the main appeal of the Painted Hills Unit – unique claystone hills of crimson and ochre colors.

The trail starts at the Painted Cove Trailhead. The first part of the trail is a wide boardwalk winding around deep-red hills of claystone. It was designed and constructed in such a way that it seems you can touch the surface of the hills with your hand, you just need to stretch it out. But you shouldn’t do it as there are numerous signs along the trail, through which the administration of the National Monument asks not to step on the fragile terrain along the boardwalk, in order not to leave the footprints on the beautiful hill slopes.

There are also interpretive signs along the Painted Cove Trail, explaining the formation of the hills.
The boardwalk ends with a viewing platform. But you may continue your walk along the ordinary unpaved trail, which, after making a loop, will lead you to the trailhead, from where you’ve started your walk.

The best time for enjoying the whole beauty of all the hues of red and gold colors of these amazing claystone mounds if late afternoon (especially after the rain), when the gentle light of the setting sun tinges the hills with unbelievable colors.

If you plan a several-days trip, don’t forget, that there are no overnight possibilities at the territory of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. So you need to plan and think beforehand about your route and lodging/camping options.

Photo: Roman Khomlyak
Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska
Information: Svetlana Baranova

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