Photograph Waterfalls in Congdon Park



2 miles

Elevation Gain

310 ft

Route Type


Added by Jonathan Portinga

Capture the power and movement of the Tischer Creek in Lakeside Duluth, MN.

Access to this park is quite simple. Follow Superior Street east until you cross the bridge before 33rd ave. Park on Superior st and the trail head is on the west side of the bridge. Next to the trail head is a set of stairs that lead down into the park. These steps can be quite icy in the winter so travel is not advised.  

As the rough-hewn steps descend into the park the creek will be on the right. The trail is broken into two parts. There is a high trail and the trail that follows the creek. The high trail is a simple double wide gravel path. The trail that follows the creek is a little bit more fragmented due to the 2012 Duluth flood. However, there is enough of a path to hike your way along the creek. Along the path there are a few old rock and concrete bridges that span over the river as it snakes through the park. Sometimes you need to take the gravel trail as the creek trail is incomplete.

Tischer Creek Offers many locations to photograph waterfalls. The creek drops over 300 feet vertical in about a 1 mile stretch. There are over 30 plus different water falls ranging in sizes from 30 ft slides to 5 ft falls. There many large boulders and sections of bedrock that form these water falls. Many of these water falls are formed where the creek has eroded away the softer rock around the harder rock making for some extreme valleys and cliff walls.  

Photographing waterfalls is fun and easy. It requires little technical skill and a little preparation. I recommend scouting the entire park and choosing a couple falls you would really like to capture before you set up shop. In a park like Congdon there are many waterfalls to choose from so you can be picky. Look for interesting foreground elements that can really set your pictures apart. 

Once you have chosen a spot you're going to want to set up your tripod and attach your camera. The key to taking great waterfall pictures is getting the water to look silky smooth by using a slower shutter speed. You're camera uses three tools to give you the correct exposure: ISO (Sensor sensitivity), Aperture (how open the lens iris is) and Shutter speed ( how long the shutter exposes the sensor to the image). Taking waterfall pictures is all about having a longer shutter speed. We're talking 3+ seconds. In order to have a correctly exposed picture with such a slow shutter speed we need to set your ISO as low as it will get. This will also give you the sharpest pictures possible. Now aperture is responsible for how much of the photo appears in focus. The higher the number the smaller the iris will be letting in less light. Which is what we want to extend the shutter speed. 

Having the right light also helps when trying to photograph waterfalls. The less light the longer shutter speeds will be with the other settings constant. Usually sunrise or sunset are your best bets. However if you can't get out at the right time there are neutral density filters that can help. They are essentially sunglasses for your camera. This can help reduce the amount of light coming into the camera allowing for a slower shutter speed during brighter times of the day. 

So there you have it. No secret to shooting great waterfall pictures just a little technical knowledge and some proper scouting are all it takes to snap your own beautiful picture.

Fun little fact: The name Congdon comes from a local timber tycoon Chester Congdon who built the Glensheen Mansion in 1905. Tischer Creek actually runs through the Glensheen Estate further down the hill until it ends up emptying into Lake Superior. 

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