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Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway named Oregon’s 15th official route

Posted by on February 24th, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Treo Bike Ranch trip Day 2 - John Day River Valley-36
A section of the route just east of Spray on the John Day Highway.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A state parks advisory committee that met in Salem today voted to officially designate the Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway. The new bikeway becomes the 15th route in the scenic bikeways program which is administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The 130-mile route is made up of a loop and three spurs bordered by the John Day River on the east, the Ochoco Mountain to the south and the Warm Springs Tribal Area to the west.

Painted-Hills1
(Photo: Travel Oregon)

paintedroute

Here’s more from the route description:

The Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway meanders through the multi-colored John Day Fossil Beds on 130 miles that connect the small communities of Fossil, Service Creek, Spray, Kimberly and Mitchell and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Viewed from your bicycle seat, you can see millions of years of history revealed in the layers of earth, one color at a time.

The hills get their name from the delicately colored stratifications in the soil—ribbons of yellows, gold’s, blacks, and reds formed millions of years ago by shifting volcanic islands. The ancient plant and wood fossils found here reveal 50 million years of animal evolution. You’ll ride through land were early cousins of elephants and rhinos once roamed.

The Bikeway is a loop made up of a series of hilly, remote out-and-back rides through high desert. One stretch runs along 20 miles of the John Day River, and another treats you to views of the Sutton Mountain Wilderness Study Area.

You can start and end your ride in any of the communities on the Bikeway; each has amenities and supplies, plus a small town to explore. Many parks and interpretive areas along the route have restrooms and drinking water. The moment you leave town, you’ll savor the solitude – it’s just you, your bicycle, the sounds of the birds and the glorious views.

If you’ve never visited the Painted Hills area, now’s the time to plan your trip. And with a bikeway designation you’ll have all the info you need to do it by bike.

The scenic bikeways program aims to highlight the very best bike routes in Oregon as a way to promote regional tourism and economic development. Each route comes with detailed maps, camping and service information, and route-finding signage. Learn more at RideOregonRide.com.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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18 Comments
  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 24, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I rode that last year! I’ve been out to Shaniko before but never PH. So much fun.

    http://pix.perljam.net/Travel/Painted-Hills-Oregon-201508

    The roads in PH are gravel, so I tossed the fredbike on my, ah, support vehicle.

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    • Scott February 24, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      Speaking of gravel, this route is a loop with three arms. I’m not familiar enough with the area to know, but I wonder whether there a gravel routes to turn those arms into more loops.

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      • SilkySlim February 25, 2016 at 9:20 am

        Definitely worthy of investigation. Also, this route is “adjacent” to the Old West Scenic Bikeway, which is a loop itself.

        I think it is very clear what I’m doing this morning over coffee (not work!).

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  • tyler February 24, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    woohoo!

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  • Tim February 24, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Twichenham is one of my favorite rides of all time. Got to love the name too.

    Don’t miss the pie at Service creek.

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  • Granpa February 24, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Be aware that during the weekend of June 17-19 the BMW motorcycle riders of Oregon hold their annual rally in John Day. About 700 motorcycles will be plying the roads in this area and many ride briskly. I have confidence that these are aware and skilled operators, Cyclists might be surprised by the quiet thumbing of a rapidly approaching, and quickly passing German touring motorcycle.

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    • SilkySlim February 25, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Good heads up. In my years of touring, motorcycle riders have proven to be unfailingly friendly on the roads, but they can be loud in packs of 100+!

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      • Granpa February 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

        Harley Davidson motorcycles are annoyingly loud and the riders have a herd mentality. BMW motorcycles are quiet and packs of riders are usually small.

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  • Jrdpdx February 24, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Not going to be spending my money in the county that elects Sheriff Glen Palmer. Beautiful area that is off my list now

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    • Scott February 24, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      This ride is not in Grant County. It is in Wheeler Country.

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      • Jrdpdx February 25, 2016 at 5:11 am

        Dang, please ignore my mistake, good to know

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  • Mike Quiglery February 25, 2016 at 5:41 am

    ***Comment deleted. Mike, we value your comments but please refrain from stereotypes and insulting labels. Thanks. – Jonathan.***

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  • spencer February 25, 2016 at 11:32 am

    $5 / night camping in mitchell city park, bar closes early

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 25, 2016 at 11:36 am

      there’s also a private Service Creek Campground, which is a great place to stay. It was a ghost town last year- the owner lady lives up the highway a little ways, we only saw her once. There was one other couple in the park, so about two dozen empty spaces. Kinda nice.

      Up the hill a few miles from the Service Creek intersection.

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  • Emily February 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Is there somewhere along the route that would be the ideal starting point? Somewhere where it would be ok to leave a car for a few days? I am thinking of starting in Richmond and doing each spur, other than the top spur to the Clarno Unit. Can anyone advise?

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) March 1, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      You could definitely leave it at Big Sarvice. But honestly you could probably leave your car ANYWHERE, especially if a local knows it’s your car.

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  • Evan March 11, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I’ve ridden most of that and can report it is fabulous. I would add that the ride from Kimberly to Long Creek is KILLER. And the woman who runs the hotel in Long Creek is super nice.

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