The Painted Hills Unit contains 3,132 acres of scenic marvels unique even in the Pacific Northwest. Located 9 miles northwest of Mitchell, the Painted Hills are visited year-round. Outdoor exhibits and a picnic area are also available for visitors.
Most years, the peak of wildflower season in late April to early May is spectacular.
For more information on the wildflowers around the painted hills go to:
The Painted Hills Unit is unmatched in the varied hues of red, orange, black and tan found in the exposed ash fall layers from ancient volcanoes. The Painted Cove area is like an artist’s palette mingling the colors of claystone and rhyolite with the green vegetation and blue pond nearby. The green of sagebrush offers a pleasant contrast to the reds and golds of the hills. The yellows, golds, blacks, and reds of the Painted Hills are best seen in the late afternoon. Tones and hue may appear to change from one visit to another, as the claystones differ with ever-changing light and moisture levels. The shapes and colors of the hills are sublime.
Carroll Rim Trail [begins from the Painted Hills Overlook, 1 ½ mile hike] – The trail ascends a few hundred feet in elevation to rimrock that overlooks the entire area, offering a bird’s-eye view of the Painted Hills. A bench to relax and enjoy the view is at the end of the trail.
Painted Hills Overlook Trail [begins at the Painted Hills Overlook, 1/2 mile hike] – This trail provides glimpses of the colorful Painted Hills from several angles. Benches are along the trail.
Painted Cove Trail [1/4 mile hike] – A third of trail is a boardwalk, accessible to those in wheelchairs. Here, one can actually walk among the red and gold claystone hills. Bring your camera! Interpretive signs illuminate the geologic story.
Leaf Hill Trail [1/4 mile hike] – One half of the trail is accessible to those in wheelchairs. This drab looking hill was the scene of important scientific studies in the 1920’s and 1990’s. Thousands of leaf fossils found here helped give us our first glimpse of an ancient ecosystem 33 million years in age. A few fossils are on exhibit.
Directions to the Painted Hills:
Places Of Interest in the Prineville area:
View Prineville Area in a larger map