The Best Views of the Painted Hills Overlook Trail

The Best Views of the Painted Hills Overlook Trail

Location: Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Round Trip: 0,5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
GPS Coordinates: N 44 38.997 W 120 16.005
Visitor’s Information Open: all year round

No Pass Required


One more option to enjoy some really scenic views of the Painted Hills and get the most out of this incredible area is hiking the Painted Hills Overlook Trail. It’s much shorter than the Carroll Rim Trail, but the fabulous views it opens for its visitors are highly competitive with those of the Carroll Rim Trail.

The Painted Hills Overlook Trailhead is located just opposite the Carroll Rim Trailhead. This short quarter mile trail will take you along a small ridge. There are several viewpoints along the trail offering fascinating views of incredible multicolor hills, which were formed out of volcanic ash, deposited here from the volcanic eruption which happened more than 30 million years ago. Throughout millions of years air and water eroded the hills and exposed their different layers. The combination of diverse minerals, such as aluminum, calcium, magnesium, titanium, iron, manganese and some other, gives these fantastic colors to the hills.
There are some benches along the trail allowing the visitors to sit, relax and soak in unbelievable beauty of the place. The overlook, located at the end of the trail, provides the visitors with some more priceless sweeping views of the enchanting territory of Painted Hills.

We recommend you to try hiking the Painted Hills Overlook Trail (or any of the Painted Hills trails) couple of times during different weather conditions. Thus you will experience yourself how the colors of the Painted Hills may change with the weather. The clay soaks the rainwater up and that leads to more light reflection, therefore the hues and tones of the hills change, becoming more bright and vivid. And during the dry weather the surface of the hills’ soil starts cracking thus diffusing the light, which makes the colors more deep.

The Painted Hills are extremely beautiful and surreal sight at any season, but if you hike the Painted Hills Overlook Trail, you will get a chance to admire yellow and purple wildflowers, growing along the trail and matching well the magnificent hills. By the way, on the hills themselves plants cannot grow because there are no nutrients in the soil and such a dense structure of the clay soil that moisture cannot go through the surface.

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

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