For waterfall lovers and landscape photographers, Bushkill Falls is an amazing destination. Located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, this privately-owned property boasts 8 waterfalls, beautiful creeks, and a few miles of hiking trails.
Bushkill Falls is located just a few miles outside the boundaries of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. For details on even more waterfalls in the area please see our guide to Photographing the Waterfalls of the Delaware Water Gap.
Unlike the falls within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Bushkill Falls is privately owned and operated. This means that you will have to pay an entrance fee. For 2016 the entrance fees are: $14.50 for adults, $13.50 for seniors (62+), $8.50 for children 4-10, and children 3 and under are free. The fees have gone up in recent years, so please check the fee listings on their website for current information. The positive side of paying a fee is that the park is very well-maintained.
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→ See More of The Best Places to Photograph in Pennsylvania
There are a total of 8 waterfalls along the trails at Bushkill Falls, however, not all of them will be equally interesting to photographers. There are 4 that are more photogenic than the others (the main falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Lower Bridesmaid’s Falls, and Upper Bridesmaid’s Falls). The namesake Bushkill Falls (also known as the main falls) is the largest of the waterfalls at approximately 100 feet and is basically the centerpiece of the trails. You can reach the Bushkill Falls with a very short hike and the main canyon area around this impressive waterfall is surrounded by wood walkways (and lots of stairs) that provide you with several different vantage points. Additional trails lead to other waterfalls within the park. Once you leave the main canyon area the wood walkway ends, except for in a few specific places. You can take a roughly 2-mile hike to see all 8 waterfalls, as well as plenty of beautiful nature along the way.
→ Related reading: 10 Tips for Fabulous Waterfall Photography
Photographing the Falls
When you first start on the trail you will be on both the red and yellow trails. As the two trails separate you can get a view of the main falls from either one. Follow the yellow trail across the creek to reach the top of the falls and catch a view down the canyon. Or head down the canyon either on the red or yellow trail to get a nice view across the creek from the falls. The best views are on the red trail as you descend into the canyon, or as you reach the creek level the yellow trail leads to a nice viewing platform at the base of the falls.
There is enough room at these places to set up a tripod, but at times when the area is crowded there will not be much space to work with. There can be a bit of a mist at the bottom of the falls, so be sure you have something to help with keeping your lens clean and dry.
Just a short distance downstream you will be at the Lower Gorge Falls. There is a bridge here that you can photograph from, but in my opinion it is not one of the better spots.
From here you will want to follow the red trail, which is the Bridal Veil Falls Trail. This trail will pretty quickly take you to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most interesting falls in the park. As you reach the bottom of the canyon you will take a bridge across the creek and the wood walkway ends.
There are some signs saying the trail is a long hike and for serious hikers only. Keep in mind that this is family tourist attraction that draws visitors of all ages and physical conditions. Don’t worry, it’s not an intense hike. It is a bit rocky and steep in some places, but if you do any type of hiking at all you will be fine on this trail.
From here you’ll follow a nature trail uphill along the beautiful Pond Run Creek. Aside from the waterfalls, there are endless opportunities to stop and photograph the creek and surrounding landscape.
Before long you will come to three separate waterfalls that are all worthy of photographing. The trail surrounding each of the waterfalls uses the wood walkway, so you are somewhat limited in terms of the views that you can get, but you are able to get a nice vantage point of each one.
The first of the falls is Lower Bridesmaid’s Falls.
After you are done photographing Lower Bridesmaid’s Falls, take the trail a short distance and you will come to Bridal Veil Falls, which may be the most photogenic of any of the falls in the park. It doesn’t have the height or strong flow of water of the main falls, but it is a beautiful scene.
As you move along the trail you will quickly come to Upper Bridesmaid’s Falls. This one sits back a little further in a gorge and on sunny days the light and shadows can be difficult to work with. Cloudy, overcast days are obviously better.
After you leave Upper Bridesmaid’s Falls and continue along the trail you will go up a number of stairs and before long you will reach Peter’s Corner. Here the trail splits. You can either go left and continue on towards Pennell Falls, or you can go right and head back towards the main falls. Pennell Falls is, in my opinion, not as photogenic as the other falls you just passed, and it is also a little difficult to get a great view of it for a photograph because of the limitations of the wood walkway. My preference is to head right and go back towards the main canyon. This area of the trail is mostly flat and there are some great views of the woods. You can get a lot of interesting photos here if you take the time.
Before you reach the main falls you will come to the Delaware Valley Lookout, which provides a great view of the surrounding area.
Once you reach the area of the main falls you can stay on the red trail and head upstream through the main canyon. From here you can photograph the rapids and the surrounding landscape.
If you would like to reach Pennell Falls you can stay on the red trail and follow signs. From the Adams Flats area it is about a 10-15 minute walk to Pennell Falls.
Once you’ve reached Pennell Falls you have seen all of the main points of interest in the park and you can head back towards the canyon.
The Best Times to Visit
Bushkill Falls is a popular tourist destination and with limited space available on the walkways it can be a challenge to photograph during those busy times. I’ve visited Bushkill Falls 4 times in the past few years in different seasons and different times of the week. The best seasons are spring and fall. It is closed in the winter and summer tends to be crowded with many families on vacation. Spring is nice because there is generally a lot of water flowing and trees and plants are very green. The area is also very beautiful in autumn with the fall colors.
During both spring and fall the best time to avoid the crowds is in the morning on a weekday. The park generally opens at 9:00 am (10:00 later in the fall) and I’ve found that for about the first 2 hours on weekdays there are usually not very many people there. If you arrive right at 9:00 on a weekday chances are you will have some time to photograph without worrying about crowds.
Tips for Photographing Bushkill Falls
Make it a Priority to Avoid the Crowds
I’ve been at Bushkill Falls when there was almost no one on the trails and also at other times when the trails were packed. If photographing the falls is your goal you will definitely want to avoid the crowds. The wood walkways get pretty crowded and you’re not going to want to deal with setting up a tripod in those crowds. From my experience, weekends are much, much busier than weekdays. If you go on a weekday and you arrive when the gates open at 9:00 am you can quickly reach the main falls, then head up the red trail to Bridal Veil Falls and both Bridesmaid’s Falls and you will probably have very little company if you are moving pretty quickly. Later in the morning the crowds will get a little heavier.
Watch the Weather
Avoid sunny days, if at all possible. You will get much better results on cloudy, overcast days.
It’s More Than Just Waterfalls
While the waterfalls are the main attraction, there are plenty of other photo-worthy subjects along the trails. The creek and woods provide endless possibilities.
Here is a quick look at some of the gear and accessories you should have with you to get the most out of your trip at Bushkill Falls.
Any time you are photographing waterfalls a tripod is pretty much a must-have. Bridal Veil Falls and the Bridesmaid’s Falls are all in areas that are typically dark, so a tripod is almost necessary. If you are going on a weekend when there will likely be a big crowd you may be able to get away with a monopod that will take up less space.
Wide Angle Lens
You’re likely to want a wide angle lens to get photos of the falls and their surrounding scenery. My wide angle lens of choice is the Canon EF 16-35 f/4L IS USM.
A polarizer will help to cut down on the glare of the water and wet rocks.
Neutral Density Filters
You may want to use a neutral density filter to allow for a slower shutter speed that will soften or blur the water. However, this isn’t a necessity and you may find that a polarizer will darken the scene enough to get the effect that you want.
The main falls puts off a decent amount of spray and mist and you may find that you need to wipe down your lens. I prefer the lens wipes from Zeiss.
Remote Cable Release
When photographing from a tripod a cable release can be helpful for allowing you to take the photo without touching the camera. This can reduce the shake on the camera and result in sharper photos.
For hiking on the trails a backpack is recommended. If you’re carrying different lenses, filters, wipes, and other accessories a backpack can handle it all. There are a number of different brands that make quality backpacks for photographers, and they come in all different price ranges and budgets.
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