[/caption] Park Butte offers a great vantage spot to view Mt. Jefferson as well as the rest of the Oregon Cascades. However, you can also get some great views looking north from Russell Lake and Park Butte is a great photo subject with the vast forest lingering below. Russell lake looks like a refreshing swimming hole with dozens of beaches lining the alpine lake. This photo was taken from the south side of Russell Lake with Mt. Jefferson directly behind me. The sun was also behind me and the glare was pretty strong so I decided to get some photos looking away from the sun where there was less glare. If you’re only doing a day hike and you decide to hike towards the summit of Park Butte, you want to make sure and bring plenty of extra water and food since it demands and additional 1000 feet of elevation gain and an additional grueling 3 miles of switchback trails. The view is absolutely amazing but you will have to pay the price to get there unless you are backpacking and camp somewhere in Jefferson Park.
[/caption] Jefferson Park is considered one of the best areas to hike in the state of Oregon and I can pretty much attest to that. This is my second trip, in the last two years, to hike into Jefferson Park during the month of September and I have never been to a more magical place than this. Early fall guarantees small crowds, beautiful fall foliage, the chance to see some wildlife and some truly amazing peace and quiet. After arriving at the Park I spent the rest of the day hiking throughout the park boundaries as I photographed everything and anything that I could. I hiked around Russel lake twice and crouched along the vegetation in order to photograph the fall foliage with Mt. Jefferson in the background. There is such an abundance of water, even in late September, that you have ample enough water to cool yourself off. One of the best places to hike, in order to get some amazing panoramic shots of the park, is to hike up the PCT towards Park Butte which is north and overlooks the park. Unless you’re planning on camping, you will find it difficult to hike to the top since it will make it a 15 mile round trip hike and over 2300 feet of elevation gain. I ended up hiking about 1/16th of a mile which put me just high enough to get some awesome photos looking down on the park with Russel lake and Mt. Jefferson. You can hike around the many small alpine ponds and lakes that dot the park and you will be lucky enough to see the numerous bear, elk and deer prints imprinted in the soft mud near the water. I was lucky enough to even spot a very rare and otherwise nonexistent SNOW OWL. I had to do a double take and even questioned what I think I saw but after I got home my wife went online and verified that there have been rare sightings in Oregon. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a photo and only got a quick view of it. I took this particular shot while using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic photo as possible as well as get a large field of view so there wouldn’t be any blur. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 due to the glare from the sun and snow on the mountain. I took this photo at 3:48pm and the saturation and brightness of the sun was perfect. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle and the sky was saturated perfectly. Fall always offers the best pictures late in the afternoon and this was no exception.