Often I get asked if I can provide some guidance about learning about photography. One of the best pieces of advice I can provide is drawn directly from my own experience. Practice taking images at local parks that you can go to with a short drive and can return frequently. Although these parks may lack the spectacular beauty of the more iconic sites such as Mt. Rainier, the Grand Canyon, and Grand Tetons-you will learn more to sharpen your photographic skills at these more modest local parks than you ever will by just shooting the iconic sites. Anyone can shoot a reasonably compelling image of Mt. Rainier’s Reflection Lake in good light, but taking a compelling image of a waterfall at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, that will challenge you to grow your photographic skill set in ways that will provide downstream benefits when you actually go to the more iconic sites. The image below if of beautiful Coal Creek Falls in the mid morning light of an Autumn day.
The Cougar Mountain Wildland Park is only a little over 3,100 acres and is almost entirely surrounded by suburban communities. But nestled within this Park are four beautiful waterfalls that can be reached with hikes ranging from just a couple of blocks to about three miles. In fact if you are ambitious one could hike to all four in one day! The next image is of North Fork Falls which can be reached by crossing the street from the Red Town Trail head and walking about a couple of blocks along the Coal Creek Park trail to this beautiful gem. It is only about 20 feet high, but nevertheless looks quite impressive when there is a good water flow.
Far Country Falls can be reached by following the Indian Trail from the Red Town Trail Head for about two miles. I have found that this waterfall looks more interesting from the top down than from the more typical waterfall perspective of looking from the bottom up.
The fourth waterfall, Doughty Falls, at Cougar Mountain will take a little longer to get to, about a three mile one way hike. Doughty Falls is very small, but beauty often comes in small packages!
Happy Trails! Start your photographic journey to your local parks today! Here is a link to access points and maps to trails at Cougar Mountain. http://www.kingcounty.gov/services/parks-recreation/parks/parks-and-natural-lands/popular-parks/cougar.aspx