South River Falls Trail

Today I went hiking at the Shenandoah National Park with some friends. We went on the South River Falls Trail, a trail close to the southern end of the Central District of the park. The trail went downhill for about 2.3 mi towards the South River Falls, the third tallest waterfall in the park at 83 feet. The fall foliage was still pretty nice on the trail, though on higher grounds, the leaves had almost completely fallen. Coming back we decided to follow the fire road all the way to the Skyline Drive. It’s roughly similar distance compared to going back on the original trail, but it was a little easier uphill hike. The photo below was taken at the stream close to the base of the waterfall.

South River Falls Trail

Rose River Trail

Another nice hike to do during the fall time at the Shenandoah National Park is the Rose River Trail. I went there last year also in October, a week after my hike to the Hawksbill Summit. Since the elevation for this trail is lower than Hawksbill Summit, the fall foliage was still closer to the peak along this trail. The beginning part of the trail was a walk through the woods, then followed with a walk along a river for quite some time, There were many small waterfalls to see along the way. The photo below was taken around the beginning of the hike. This was my first attempt at HDR photography — couldn’t resist given the wonderful colors of the foliage and the nice morning lighting.

Rose River Trail

Hawksbill Summit

One of my favorite places to visit in the area this time of the year is the Shenandoah National Park. It’s only about an hour drive away from where I live, so it’s a perfect destination for a last minute weekend activity. I often go there for a day hike or even just for a relaxing drive to enjoy the scenery. On a Saturday morning in October 2010, I went for a hike to the Hawksbill Summit. The trail was not really long (around 3 miles round trip from the parking lot), but one part of it was quite a steep uphill climb, so it was a good workout. The view from the summit was quite nice — it is the highest point within the park. Part of the trail overlaps with the Appalachian Trail, so you get to experience a little bit what it’s like to hike the famous trail (and perhaps come across hikers who are in the middle of doing the long journey). The photo below was taken at a lookout near the summit, using my then newly-acquired Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 ultra-wide angle lens. The lens helped took in more of the scenery and provided the dramatic view of the clouds above.

Hawksbill Summit Trail

Fall at Meadowlark Gardens

Few days ago I mentioned about the Raptor Photo Shoot that was a part of the Photographers’ Field Day at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. This was my second Photographers’ Field Day at Meadowlark; I went to the same event last year. This year’s event was held a bit earlier in October (last year it was the last weekend of October). As such, the fall foliage was not quite at its peak yet (it didn’t help that this year it seems to be a bit warmer than last year). In comparison, last year’s event was held on a great day for taking photograph. The foliage colors were close to peak, it was sunny but with some clouds in the sky that helped soften the light a bit. I got several good shots, and not long ago I received message on flickr from a company that wanted to use one of my Meadowlark Gardens photos for the cover of a phone book for Vienna/Oakton, VA, area. After they reviewed the whole set, they selected the photo below, and this was my first ever paid photograph for commercial usage.

Fall at Meadowlark Gardens

Kentuck Knob

In the Laurel Highlands, not far from Fallingwater, there is another home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that architecture enthusiasts should check out. Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill, PA, was designed by Mr. Wright as a home for another area family. Unlike Fallingwater which was designed to be a vacation home for a wealthy family, Kentuck Knob is smaller in size and was designed to be a residence for a small family. I think the house felt more intimate and cozy inside. Like Fallingwater, it is another good example of organic architecture, where the building was designed to exist in harmony with the nature surround it. One part of Kentuck Knob was built into a hill side, so if you view the home from one perspective (as seen in the photo below), it looked like the home is integrated into the surrounding nature. If you plan to come to the area to visit Fallingwater, you should also make time to visit Kentuck Knob. It is definitely worth visiting.

Kentuck Knob