“A new trail in the Painted Hills, this trail is mostly level and ends at a knoll made of bright yellow and red clay.”
— David Hitchcock
Depending on weather conditions in the winter, one or more areas of John Day Fossil Beds may be closed if the roads are not open or passable. The "red hill" is off limits to visitors as it is fragile landscapes and can be damaged by people traversing across it.
This is a short trail to a bench on the back side of the hill. There are some rocks at the beginning of the trail, but it is an easy run.
The Red Hill Trail, also known as the Red Scar Knoll Trail, is the newest trail in the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument. It is found at the end of the end of Bear Creek Road before it departs the monument. There is a small parking area on the left hand side where you can park before exploring the area. The trail drops to the side of the road and makes its way across a dirt wash via a small, wooden bridge. Turning to the right, the trail follows a narrow, gravel trail that climbs gently toward the hill. Gaining about 25 feet over a tenth of a mile, it's an easy climb for everyone.
The trail continues around the hill and climbs a little bit more to where a bench sits facing the hill. From here, you can look straight ahead and take in the enormous red and yellow clay hill that sits before you. The red clay is iron red paleosol that indicates a warm and moist environment that use to exist in the area. The Yellow/Tan soil represents a drier environment at a point in time where there would not have been much water. Off to the right, there are views of the trees and surrounding hills. There is a sign that indicates that you have reached the end of the trail. Do not go past the sign as it can damage the ecosystem in the area. Once you have taken in the views, you can return to your car via the path that you followed.