Painted Cove Trail, OR

Photo by superpheobe CC BY 2.0

The Painted Cove Trail allows you to directly encounter the rich texture of the gold, green and terracotta soil of the Painted Hills. This easy, quarter-mile loop welcomes all levels of mobility as the boarded walkway makes it ADA-accessible and pet-friendly, encouraging everyone to come and enjoy this geological spectacle and breathtaking views.

The Painted Hills are a part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and are not only a living record of natural evolution and ancient ecosystems, but also an acknowledgment of Oregon’s prehistoric past. The soil contains moss, algae and microfungi that protect the hills from erosion, preserving their untouched beauty. The boardwalk contributes to the preservation of this prehistoric landmark and allows you to directly experience the vibrant streaks of red and orange hills up close.

Starting at the Painted Cove trailhead, the loop travels through the beautifully stained, stratified hills before concluding at the Painted Cove overlook. The Painted Hills also contains a picnic area perfect for post-trail snacks as well as wheelchair accessible restrooms.

For more information on the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, visit For lodging close by, visit and for ADA-friendly lodging options in Bend, go to or

Get the next issue of Northwest Travel & Life