A Beautiful Winter Hike along the John Day River

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John Day River

The pungent smell of sagebrush brought a smile to my face, and conjured up many memories of my youth.

Cottonwood Canyon sits in a deep canyon of the John Day River, one of our nation’s longest free-flowing rivers.

The park has 8,000-plus acres for hiking, fishing and exploring the interesting landscape.

The Pinnacles Trail follows the west side of the John Day River downstream for approximately 4 1/2 miles.

The ever-changing light on the tall, basalt cliffs kept me entertained for the four-hour outing.

A great place to visit. I will return soon.

The trail, an old wagon road, is carved out of the cliffs in places

Filaree (a wild member of the Geranium family about the size of your little fingernail)

John Day River Canyon

Not all Bighorn Mountain Sheep make it through the winter

Early moon rise above the basalt cliffs

Scrub Jay

Apt sign at the trailhead

End of trail

High basalt cliffs above the John Day River

Waterfall (trickle of water throughout the year) slowly cutting a backward notch into the cliffs

Well-worn game trail (likely Bighorn Mountain Sheep) heading up into the high cliffs

Windmills as far as the eye can see on the flat above the John Day River






Categories: Eastern Oregon OutingsTags: ,


  1. Thanks for the hike John. Maybe see you this summer?


    • Yes, I’m trying to work it out so that I can visit this summer. I’ve been talking to George too.
      I’ll give you a call when things firm up.
      It would be great seeing you, Nancy and the rest of the good folks in the Okanogan.


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