Plunging more than 20 feet from the forest above, Pearsoney Falls is one of many breathtaking waterfalls tucked away in the Southern Oregon Cascades. Named after two families who were among the first pioneers in the area, the Pearsons and the Mahoneys, Pearsoney Falls is accessed by a short trail near the historic town of Prospect, 40 miles north of Medford. After viewing the falls, continue half a mile south on Mill Creek Drive to the Mill Creek Falls trailhead. A short hike will grace you with views of Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls thundering over 170 feet into the Rogue River below. Be sure to visit the Rogue Gorge and the Natural Bridge Viewpoint where the Rogue River has carved its way through rock beds of ancient lava floes. Continue north on the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway toward Union Creek for countless waterfall viewing opportunities. At Union Creek, a short side trip to the east will take you to Crater Lake National Park for even more.
Between 30 and 80 inches of precipitation fall in the Southern Oregon Cascades annually, most of which occurs as rain or snow during the winter months. Winters are typically rainy and cloudy. Snowfall in the upper elevations of the Southern Oregon Cascades can be quite heavy, so always carry chains, and check road conditions before traveling during winter. Summers are mild and sunny, and July and August are the hottest months, with temperatures typically reaching 80 degrees F. And while July and August also are the driest months, be prepared for light showers year-round.
Known by locals as “the highway of waterfalls,” the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway was designated a National Scenic Byway on June 13, 2002. The road travels 172 miles through two national forests, tracing the paths of both the Upper Rogue and North Umpqua Rivers. With 50 named waterfalls in the Umpqua River watershed and 52 in the Rogue River watershed, there’s no shortage of great photo opportunities. For long exposures that will add a smooth blur to moving water, a tripod and wireless remote come in handy. A polarizing filter and a warming filter can be helpful to deepen the intensity of colors. For waterfall shots, I like to use the Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote with my Nikon D40X and experiment with exposures between one and eight seconds.
The Southern Oregon Cascades offer dramatic photo opportunities all year long, although late spring and summer provide the best weather.
Contact: Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, www.fs.fed.us/r6/rogue-siskiyou.
Inclement weather is often the best time to shoot photographically, but the worst time to take your sensitive gear out of the bag. Weather covers protect from rain and snow by acting as a raincoat for your camera. The GDC E-702 Elements Cover from Kata, for instance, provides access to the camera through two side sleeves and an unobstructed shot through the adjustable stiff hood, which fits a variety of lens lengths and diameters. Contact: Kata (Bogen Imaging), (201) 818-9500, www.bogenimaging.us.