As fall approaches, we are eager to watch the leaves change colors here in the Valley! The change in the landscape each year from cool green and blue to warm orange, yellow, and red, is exciting and unique. Whether by car or by foot, we’ve come up with some options for optimal fall foliage viewing! In addition, we have some tips on photographing the colorful leaves to get the best pictures possible while on your hike!
Maryland Heights Trail
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is a must on our list because it has so much to offer! The Maryland Heights Trail is a tough one – complete with some steep, rocky stretches on your way up. As long as you wear proper shoes, bring water and some snacks for fuel, you will love it! You can even bring the dogs, but be prepared for them to stop and make some friends along the way. When you get to the overlook, you will be in awe of the beauty of the foliage!
You’ll probably want to stop and take some pictures as you hike, and we encourage it! Pull the family aside as to get out of the way of other hikers, and try to avoid the places that leave someone in complete shadow and someone else in complete light. If shooting with an iPhone, open your camera app and turn the HDR setting on (High Dynamic Range). This will automatically take two separate photos, the second of which will be exposed properly according to the lighting. With people walking past you, be sure to focus in on your subject, whether that’s your family or your pup! Simply tap your phone where the subjects are within the image – this will tell your camera specifically what to focus on. Utilizing HDR and remembering to focus the camera will ensure you get the best photo possible!
On the other side of the railroad tracks, you can head up the trail to Jefferson Rock. This is another lookout that provides an outstanding view over the rivers, the railroad, and the charming town of Harpers Ferry. The hike up is a bit easier, and even has some steps carved into the rocks to make it less strenuous.
When you’ve made it to the top and you’re ready to take more pictures, feel free to experiment a little! With an expansive view, a panoramic picture will capture all of the beauty you see in an extended frame. When your iPhone camera is open, swipe over until you see the “Pano” option. Click the white shutter button to begin capturing, and then slowly move your phone from left to right. Keep the arrow on the screen along the yellow line, and when you’re done, hit the white shutter button again to finish.
If you’re looking for more of an adventure, or maybe just less of a hike, you should hop in the car and explore the National Scenic Byway, Skyline Drive. You can drive through and gaze at the incredible Blue Ridge Mountains, at your own leisure! There are plenty of designated spots to pull over, park, and look out over the mountains. Try playing around with the filters on your phone’s camera. Hitting the symbol in the top right corner will open up several filter options – you can explore them to see if they enhance the colorful landscapes! It would also be fun to try out the Time-Lapse feature. You could use it as you drive up and around through the mountains to end up with a beautiful video from the drive. Or, you could set it up at one of the lookout spots for a few minutes and see if you can get some footage of the clouds rolling in and out.
Here in the Valley is the best possible place to be this time of year! There is no shortage of trails to hike, drives to take, or pictures to capture as the leaves change into their magnificent fall colors. We hope you get out and enjoy the pretty landscapes while they’re here, because it always seems to come and go so fast!
Want more hiking ideas? Read more from our blog, “Fun Hikes for Your Family!”.