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Pinnacles Trail

 4.5 (2)

A beautiful former jeep road along the West Side of the John Day River, with towering red rock cliffs.

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555' 169 m


505' 154 m


160' 49 m


160' 49 m



Avg Grade (0°)


Max Grade (1°)

Dogs Leashed

E-Bikes Allowed

Trail is closed beyond Mile 3 seasonally from February to August for protection nesting golden eagles. Watch out for Rattlesnakes, they are fairly common.

Need to Know

THERE IS NO CELL SERVICE within the Park, so be forewarned, sign into the Trail Register if available. Watch out for Rattlesnakes, they are common along this trail. Carry lots of water as it can get very hot and there is little to no shade. Winds can be a problem, they can be quite strong at times...typically blowing downstream for the most part, so you may have a more strenuous pedal on the return.


Pinnacles Trail is a 9.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located within Cottonwood Canyon State Park that runs along the John Day River, a designated Wild & Scenic corridor. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Trail starts at N end of the Campground area within Cottonwood Canyon State Park, runs parallel to the John Day River, heading downstream. It is an old road, mostly gravel/dirt, bit there are some very rocky sections right near the start where the trail passes directly under some large cliffs, you'll want to have some sort of shocks to absorb the bumps as there is a talus roadbed for perhaps a mile of so.. Spectacular views on both sides of the river of towering cliffs. At 1.35 miles, the trial intersects with the Walnut Trail, a single tack that runs both above (Upper Walnut) and below (Lower Walnut). In another 0.4 mi the trail intersects with Lower Walnut Trail and another 0.25 mile brings you to the other end of Upper Walnut Trail. At 1.8 miles from start, the trail runs right above the river Continuing to a bend to the N at 2.81 Miles. Not long after, at about 3.1 miles you reach a gate, where the seasonal closure (Feb - Oct) begins. When the trail IS open beyond this, it goes thru a sandy stretch for approx. a mile before coming up to the face of a large cliff on the L. AT this pot the rail be comes a rocky singletrack, much more challenging, I would rate as intermediate, which can be somewhat overgrown. In about another 0.8 miles the trail peters out, or at least it was so overgrown making finding route difficult. This is where the official trail ends, you may be able to go further depending on your skill and determination. Eventually you would leave the park and enter The BLM Central Oregon - Prineville Field Station area at approximately 6 miles from the trailhead.


Shared By:

Don Feltham

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes


  4.5 from 2 votes
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in Oregon


7 Views Last Month
165 Since Aug 2, 2021



The John Day River, which the tail runs along, is one of the premier overnight rafting destinations in OR. You frequently will see them floating by!
Aug 3, 2021 near Moro, OR
Looking across the river from the trail at the mouth of Esau Canyon.
Aug 3, 2021 near Moro, OR
The trail runs right above the river in this section.
Aug 3, 2021 near Moro, OR
The Pinnacles trail, looking back across the River to the Lost Corral/Esau Canyon area.
Aug 3, 2021 near Moro, OR
Looking back at the first mile of the Pinnacles Trail.
Aug 2, 2021 near Moro, OR
Looking NE from The Pinnacles Trail at the cliffs above the opposite shore of the John Day River.
Aug 2, 2021 near Moro, OR



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Mar 21, 2022
Jen Tee
Beautiful ride.
May 24, 2021
Don Feltham
9.9mi — 2h 26m