Painted Canyon Trail
ElevationAscent: 90' 28 m
Descent: -388' -118 m
High: 2,779' 847 m
Low: 2,464' 751 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 28% (15°)
Popular hikes nearby
“An out-and-back trail that provides a variety of settings - rugged badlands, sagebrush flats, and rolling grasslands.”— Karen Ryberg
Features Birding · Fall Colors · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Family Friendly Spectacular views and an easy path keep the whole family entertained.
At the east end of the parking lot, there is a trailhead sign with a map. It pays to examine the map and note how far the trail traverses along the rim before starting its descent (about 0.5 mile) because there are numerous well-traveled bison trails in the area that could easily divert a hiker.
From the trailhead, follow a gravel road east. It turns into a two-track dirt trail as you pass two fenced air-quality and weather monitoring stations, that also have a webcam. Continue east/southeast past the fenced septic lagoon for the rest area - at this point the two-track road turns into a hiking trail. There should be a marker ahead where the trail turns down off the rim; however, markers are difficult to maintain in the park because bison use them as scratching posts.
Shortly after starting the descent, there is a box for visitors to register. The descent continues from this point and levels out as it passes through some gullies create by intermittent streams. At about the halfway point, hikers pass through a sagebrush flats area. Then the trail dips into a deep gully and back up to rolling grasslands.
At the north end, it meets the Upper Paddock Creek Trail and one could continue northwest or southeast on that trail. If this is your turnaround point, the stretch back up the rim in the last mile is challenging, but the steepest part is relatively short, and it provides fantastic views of the badlands stretching to the north.
Flora & Fauna
Land Manager: NPS - Theodore Roosevelt