Shay’s Run, West Virginia, USA by Gary Olejniczak

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Picture Story

This beautiful waterfall is found on Shay’s Run as it cascades its way down the Blackwater Canyon into the Blackwater River. The falls is one of four located along this run. All of these wonders can be found within the Blackwater Falls State Park near Davis, West Virginia, USA.

Just downstream from the more popular Elakala Falls, access to this beauty can be found but it is not easy. There is no discernible path so I had to bushwhack down the side of the canyon to reach the river. Although steep and rugged, the trek down is very manageable thanks to the many trees, roots, and rocks found along the way. Just take your time and you will be quite safe.

Once at the bottom of the canyon, take a short breather. You still need to cross a narrow portion of the river to reach the rocks and boulders that provide the best vantage points from which to shoot. The water is flowing here but it is not deep. Using normal caution, stepping on the slippery underwater rocks has you quickly and easily climbing onto the rocks for a good shooting angle into the falls.

Perched on the large rocks that tumbled into the canyon ages ago, I found many interesting compositions. I was also afforded several views of the lush canyon with its mossy green rocks and flowing blackwaters. The black water is primarily the result of leaching tannins from fallen needles of eastern hemlocks and red spruce. As one looks at the falls, the shape and structure are reminiscent of a wedding cake with its many tiers and drops. The hour that I spent down on the river shooting and observing was a very peaceful and rewarding experience.

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