Matthiessen State Park November 24, 2017

To be honest, I knew very little about Matthiessen State Park, near Oglesby, IL. I started the day thinking I would take a drive up to Starved Rock to photograph some of the canyons and waterfalls there. It was a nice November afternoon with temperatures above 60 degrees. Being Black Friday I wanted nothing to do with the shopping malls and craziness of the crowds. Though I did expect there would others who wanted to take advantage of the nice November day and had the same idea as me. I am sure there were more than a few hikers at Starved Rock. I had heard a little about Matthiessen State Park and that it didn't draw the crowds of Starved Rock, but did not know what to expect. I had talked to my son in law on Thanksgiving about heading the hour north of Bloomington to Starved Rock. When I picked him up, I asked him if we knew anything about Matthiessen State Park. He said he had been there and we decided to give it a try.

From the parking lot, we descended what seemed like several hundred steps to an area that looked down into the canyon below. We crossed bridge over the top of Cascade Falls and made our way down the path. While most of the trees have lost their leaves here in central Illinois, I was surprised with the number of trees there that still had leaves. Most of the foliage remaining was with gold or brown in color. The leaf covered path that ran along the side of the canyon was golden in color with the sun shining down through the trees.

Reaching the end of the path, we were treated to the sun gleaming through the trees and backlighting what remained of the leaves on the trees and lighting up the path ahead of us.

The path made a sharp left turn onto a foot bridge that took us back across the canyon once again to a number of stairs that would take us down to the floor of the canyon. Standing under the bridge this was the view to the south looking down stream.

As we started into the canyon, I turned back to take one photo of the bridge and the stairs we had just descended.

The walk toward Cascade Falls was filled with so many opportunities to take photos. Everywhere I turned was a opportunity to take a wide angle photo of my surroundings.

We finally got to the Cascade Falls and were treated to the falls being surrounded by rock formations on three sides. I set up my tripod, and mounted the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with the 7-14 Pro lens with my Nisi filters to enable me to utilize long shutter speeds to smooth the water running down the falls and into the pool below. Here are some of those photos.

The most interesting part of the scene was the left side of the canyon. Moving to the left, it was apparent that through a small cave, there was an opening with a small ledge on the left side of the canyon with water directly in front of the ledge and rock formations wrapping around over our heads. The challenge was finding a place to set my tripod as the small rock area sloped at about a 45 degree angle into the water. In fact, the photo below was the last long exposure I was able to make as my filter setup fell off into the water after this photo and had to be retrieved.

After gathering all of our gear we headed back out of the canyon, stopping along the way to take a few more photos.

Both coming into the canyon and going out, we had to cross the small stream several times that meandered through the canyon. Below is Manny, my son in law at one of the crossings. Fortunately we navigated these crossings without any mishaps.

I hope you enjoyed this and that this Adobe Spark page helped to give you a better perspective of our experience than a single photo or two. If you are near Oglesby and Matthiessen State Park, it is worth spending a few hours here exploring the trails and canyon. One final look and we headed up the steps to the path that would lead us back to the parking area.

Created By
Mike Hedge

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