Red Scar Knoll Trail – the Beauty of Oregon’s Desert

Red Scar Knoll Trail – the Beauty of Oregon’s Desert

Location: Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Round Trip: 0,5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: Minimal
GRS Coordinates: N 44 38.137 W 120 17.555
Visitor’s Information Open: all year round

No Pass Required

Amazingly beautiful Painted Hills Unit of the Oregon’s John Day Fossil Beds National Monument can fairly be called a natural wonder. Its uniqueness, astonishing colors and stunning undulating forms will make you to feel like you are visiting a Fairyland or another planet (hiking the Painted Cove Trail will surely give you the sensation of a spaceman exploring the surface of the Red Planet). And this is not to mention the geological and paleontological significance of this incredible place, providing its visitors with various historical evidence of this area.

Five short trails provide the visitors with an opportunity to explore the Painted Hills Unit, to see it from different angles. But don’t think, that because of the shortness of the trails you will be quickly done with the Unit. Admiring the marvelous views, trying to capture this extraordinary beauty in your photos you will not notice how time will fly away. Take this into consideration while planning your trip.

The Carroll Rim Trail and the Painted Hills Overlook Trail are considered to be the most popular and often visited, as they offer the visitors unforgettable overall views of the Unit. Less popular but not less fascinating are another 3 trails, giving the close view of the claystone hills: Painted Cove Trail, Leaf Fossil Trail and Red Scar Knoll Trail (also called the Red Hill Trail).

The Red Scar Knoll Trail is actually the newest one in the Painted Hills. It is the last hike at the territory of the Unit if you are coming from the Burnt Ranch Road. This short trail (half a mile – roundtrip) meanders through the deserted area of the Painted Hills, wrapping around the Red Scar Knoll – an ancient 2,297-feet hill, consisting mostly of bright-red claystone. The trail lies in such a proximity to the knoll that you may put out your hand and touch its rugged and weathered surface. Unfortunately some reckless visitors use this fact and leave their footprints on the gentle structure of the claystone (in spite of all the signs prohibiting to do so) thus damaging the priceless historical and geological monument.

The Red Scar Knoll Trail is short and leveled and that is why it is great for the hikers of any age and hiking experience. The dogs are allowed here, but only on the leash.

There are some stunt cactuses scattered along the trail, so you should better watch your steps in order not to scratch your ankles.

You should also remember that the Red Scar Knoll Trail is very exposed, as well as the rest of trails of the Painted Hills Unit, and it quickly becomes extremely hot there, especially during the summer months.


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

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