If you’re interested in visiting one of Oregon’s best gorge hikes but unfortunately the most popular hike I would recommend the Eagle Creek trail. However, it has now become the most overcrowded and over used hike in the entire gorge. Tourists and recent transplants have overtaken the entire stretch of the gorge but Eagle Creek has really seen the most traffic. It’s really not surprising since there isn’t anywhere else in the lower 48 states like it but you can no longer hike the trail in solitude. If you find yourself driving along I-84, whiling looking for a good trail, you might want to take in consideration the parking problems that come with the popularity of your favorite hiking spot. The parking lots can be full very early in the morning and if you’re driving through during the afternoon it becomes more like a parking lot at a Walmart in Oklahoma. If you’re planning a trip, I would go very early in the morning and go during off season. There are a lot more hidden and less used trails in Oregon that I would rather go to during peak season. However, that said, The Eagle Creek trail offers some of the best waterfalls in the gorge. Punchbowl Falls is the most popular but Metlako Falls holds it’s own. If you want to get a really good view or take photos, you actually have to climb over the railing and brace yourself against a tree. However, you will want to be really careful since you will be standing just centimeters from a 100 foot cliff and you will certainly die if you fall. You can still get a good view of the falls from a safe distance but you get a much better view while in harms way. I took this photo of Metlako Falls while hanging on the cliff and it’s always worth the extra effort. You will want to use a tripod so you will want to be extra careful and you also want to ensure that you are braced against the tree since you can find yourself forgetting that you are merely centimeters from sure death. The best time to take photos of the gorge is during late Spring and early Summer. This is when the vegetation is lit up like a roman candle. You haven’t seen green until you have visited during this peak season. Seriously, the Oregon gorge green will make any other green look like brown. I took this shot while using my Canon Rebel T1I and attached my Sigma 17-70-mm lens. I also used my bubble level and remote switch. I also use a Manfrotto tripod but it’s not the lightest tripod. However, when you’re concerned about movement, it’s good to use a heavier tripod to ensure that you don’t have the slightest of movement. This is especially true since I set the shutter speed at 10 seconds and there was a breeze flowing up from below.
[/caption] Metlako Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Gorge but unfortunately it’s also one of the most difficult to photograph without having any blur or camera shake in the picture. This is largely due to the fact that you have to climb over the guard rail and set up your tripod and hold on to the only tree while you hover just inches from the 200 foot canyon wall. The tree is literally hanging from the edge of the canyon and the creek is 200 feet below. As you can see in this photo you’re also in a very precarious spot since the waterfall is behind the vegetation but the forested trees blanket the entire photo. It’s very hard to get the camera to focus on the waterfall and the vegetation without causing the camera sensor to blur. It also doesn’t help that Metlako Falls is positioned deep in the canyon with trees elbowing for the camera. The viewpoint is about 200 yards from the 100 foot waterfall and you have to position the camera at a slight 30 degree angle since you’re standing above the falls. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my warming, CIR-PL and ND4 filters in order to reduce the glare and increase the shutter speed. I had the shutter speed at 4 seconds and the aperture was at F-16 since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.7. The weather was rather cool and the skies were raining so I lucked out on the exposure. I had the focal length at 50mm in order to take advantage of the lighting and the neon green forest. The water level was especially incredible since it was early Summer and the winter had some of the highest snow pack in decades. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch since you can’t get this waterfall to be in focus without a tripod.