Photographing Appalachian Mountains: Babcock State Park
Photographing Babcock State Park
Location: Babcock State Park, West Virginia
Best time of year to photograph: Spring, Summer, and Fall
Subject Focus: Grist Mill, Landscape, Nature, Sunrise, Sunset
Babcock State Park is one of 36 state parks in West Virginia and is located just southeast of Fayetteville, WV. The main attraction of Babcock State Park is the Glade Creek Grist Mill, which is located on the banks of Glade Creek. There is a large parking lot across the creek from the grist mill, making it very assessable. This parking lot is also for the state park information area and gift shop. Right below the Glad Creek Grist Mill, there are some waterfalls with the tallest at about 10 feet tall. The easiest way to the base of the falls is to walk through the parking lot toward the building where you will find stone stairs the lead down to the creek. Depending on the level of the creek, there are some rocks you are able to scramble on to help find a composition (click here for landscape composition tips).
( View near parking area, 35mm, F/11, 1.3 sec, ISO 100)
To take the more iconic image of the Glade Creek Grist Mill, you will need to cross to the other side of Glade Creek. Next to the Glade Creek Grist Mill is a bride that makes crossing the creek very easy. After walking across the bridge, turn right passed the grist mill, and follow the road about 400 feet until the stone wall ends. If the road enters the forest, you have gone about 25 feet too far. From here, you will need a telephoto lens to shoot back up the creek. On a full frame camera, I personally found between 90mm to 100mm is perfect to incorporate the waterfalls and the Glade Creek Grist Mill in my composition (click here for essential landscape photo tips) . From this location, just behind you is a dam. This dam creates a pool, which is great for capturing reflections of the gristmill. From this location, you will also be facing south, so during the morning, you will be able to capture beautiful side light as the sun slowly rises around the surrounding mountains. Since this location is very easy to get to, it can be very popular. I found that photographing the Glade Creek Grist Mill at sunrise helped me avoid the crowds. To help get to the Glade Creek Grist Mill for sunrise, think about camping at in Babcock State Park.
(90mm, F/11, 3 sec, ISO 100)
The campground has 51 campsites for tents and is open from the last weekend in April through October 31. The campground is dog friendly, making it ideal to bring the whole family. I like to camp on the outside of the loop because, even though you are still able to see the neighbors, it doesn't feel like they are right next to you. The camp sites also have plenty of room to set up your tent, have picnic tables to cook and eat, and have fire rings for camp fires to make s’mores. The campgrounds do have bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities and (as of 2017) cost 25 USD per night.
(100mm, F/14, 4 sec, ISO 100)
Another great thing about camping in the Babcock State Park is the location! It is close to some amazing places and is a great spot for a base camp while you are out exploring and photographing the New River Gorge and the surrounding mountains. Babcock State Park also has over 4,000 acres to explore, making it a great place to camp while you explore this beautiful area. Just outside the park, there are a lot of hiking trails in and around the New River Gorge, which includes another one of my favorite hikes, Beauty Mountain Trail (click here for details). For more information about camping at Babcock State Park, including how to reserve a camp spot, click here.
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