Landscapes,  Nature,  Travel

What to Photograph at Blackwater Falls State Park?

Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virginia has a terrific selection of attractions for nature photographers.

Blackwater Falls

Blackwater Falls

Blackwater Falls State Park has several waterfalls and scenic overlooks for landscape photographers.  If you want to visit Blackwater Falls for fall colors, the peak for fall foliage is typically around October 1st.

Here are some of my favorite locations in Blackwater Falls State Park.

Blackwater Falls

The falls the park was named after.  Blackwater Falls is a beautiful multi stream waterfall.  The hike to Blackwater Falls is only a 1/4 mile but there are quite a few stairs to get to the base of the falls where I found the best combinations.

Elakala Falls

Elakala Falls

Elakala Falls

A beautiful waterfall where the water swirls in the pool beneath the falls.  A .7 mile round trip intermediate level hike to the base of the falls.  The official marked trail gets you to the top of the falls.  You’ll need to follow an unofficial, unmarked trail to get to the base of the falls where you’ll find the best compositions.  There are 3 more waterfalls on Shays Run as it flows further in the ravine.  These are unmarked trails that are only recommended for experience hikers.

Bring an ultra wide lens with you to Elakala Falls.  There are several compositions up close to the falls where an ultra wide lens comes in handy.  I used my Olympus 9-18mm Micro Four Thirds lens for my Olympus OM-D E-M1.  Micro Four Thirds cameras have a 2X crop factor compared to a full frame DSLR.  A 17-40mm lens would be a full frame equivalent ultra wide lens.

Lindy Point

Lindy Point

Lindy Point 

Located at the far southwest corner of the park, Lindys Point Overlook provides a spectacular view of the canyon.  After a .4 mile hike, you’ll reach two observation platforms with wooden railings.  There are also several unofficial trails that lead to the large rocks overlooking the ravine without railings.  Be careful if you choose you use these unofficial trails, it’s windy on the point and it’s a long way down. 

I chose to stay on the observation platform but quickly abandoned my tripod allowing me to hold the camera over the railing to get better compositions.  I used a circular polarizer, to slow the shutter speed and darken the sky as it was getting to be mid morning when I reached Lindys Point.  Lindys Point is a terrific place to photograph the sunset.

The Observation Deck behind the Blackwater Lodge

The observation deck behind the lodge and the open area behind the platform provide a nice view of the Canyon and Blackwater River.

Taken from Pendleton Point Overlook.

Taken from Pendleton Point Overlook

Pendleton Point Overlook

Just past the parking area for Blackwater Falls and the cabin area is another parking area for the Pendleton Point Overlook.  There are several points both with and without fences where photographs of the canyon can be taken.  There is also a steep trail leading out to some rock ledges at the far end of the overlook.  I hiked this trail and got some nice shots of the canyon.  But be careful, it’s a steep trail with no fences to guard from a fall. 

Overall, I found the trip to Blackwater Falls to be worth it.  You can easily spend a day or more (if you want to photograph in the best light) in Blackwater Falls State Park.  You can also explore and photograph the nearby Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge and Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.

Written by Martin Belan

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