Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway
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In Oregon, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, and the same Oregon road laws apply. Please “be seen” and practice safe riding. Vehicle traffic, farm equipment and narrow shoulders exist on many Oregon roads, and you may find that construction projects, traffic or other events may cause road conditions or signage to differ from the map results, ride descriptions and directions. For travel options plus weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941. Routes listed on this website are for informational purposes and intended as a reference guide only.
Official Maps from Oregon Parks and Recreation
Bicycling through the Painted Hills reveals millions of years of history in the layers of earth, one color at a time. The hills get their name from the delicately colored stratifications in the soil of yellows, golds, blacks and reds, formed by shifting volcanic islands. A closer look reveals ancient plant and wood fossils. This Oregon Scenic Bikeway connects all three units of the John Day Fossil Beds, which hold the world’s best fossil record of the Age of Mammals (the last 50 million years) and exhibit a dramatic record of past climate change.
The Bikeway features a hub-and-spoke design that offers a series of rides and loops, which easily connect for longer tours on largely low-traffic roads. The official map and cue sheet details several shorter segments, as well as the entire Scenic Bikeway. You can start and end your ride in any of the communities on the Bikeway; each has the amenities and supplies you need, plus a small town to explore. Beyond each town there are just the sounds of birds and the quiet.
Water stops are limited to towns, except for the three Highway 19 parks between Fossil and Service Creek (see map), and the Painted Hills picnic area.
Motorized Vehicle Traffic: Very light to moderate
Seasons: Late spring through fall
Camping is available at Shelton Wayside County Park and three other sites between Fossil and just past Service Creek, as well as two sites between Service Creek and Kimberly. There are lodging options in Fossil, Mitchell, Service Creek, Spray and Kimberly.
Explore the rest of Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways
Oregon Scenic Bikeway routes often include roads with car and truck traffic. Although the Bikeways are routed often on low-traffic and low-speed roads whenever possible, most are designated for cyclists that are comfortable riding in some amount of traffic. For traffic-free riding, please check out the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway section north of Banks and the first half of the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway.