Enders State Forest and Waterfalls

Enders State Forest Park was established in 1970 when the family of John Ostrom Enders and Harriet Whitmore Enders donated the land to the state. With additional land donated by the family in 1981, and another purchase by the state in 2002, it now encompasses 2098 acres of rich forest, with a river flowing through the rocky terrain. On one side of Route 219, you will find a small parking lot with a pair of trails leading to a series of waterfalls, which cascade over several rocky drops. Driving just a little further along Route 219, turn right onto an old gravel road that runs through the state forest, and leads to a marshy bed, just loaded with wildflowers that bloom throughout the season.

Cardinal flower in late summer at the marsh in Enders State Forest, a great place for closeups and reflections.

Cardinal flower in late summer at the marsh in Enders State Forest, a great place for closeups and reflections.

What to Photograph

Anyone who wants to practice their skills on photographing waterfalls will be in glory at this location. There are six waterfalls within a quarter mile stretch of the river, and all are just a short walk along the trail from the parking lot. Some say that this is the best collection of falls in the state. Most of the cascades have a good drop over a rocky ledge, creating a pool of water below. Most of these gorges are good for swimming, so if you go in the middle of a hot summer day, expect to find some locals cooling off in the pool below the falls.

If you are looking for wildflowers growing in a natural habitat, this is a great place. There are wildflowers that bloom from spring through fall along the marsh found inside the forest on the north side of Route 219. In the spring there are trilliums, jack-in-the pulpit, forget-me-not and skunk cabbage. If you’re lucky and are there at bloom time, you’ll find the native ladies slipper orchids tucked away in the forest. Later in the summer, the edges of the marsh fill up with water loving plants like the brilliant red cardinal flower, turtlehead, wood aster and arrowhead.

Insect on the flower of the arrowhead plant at Enders State Forest.

Insect on the flower of the arrowhead plant at Enders State Forest.

When to go

Waterfalls are great to photograph anytime of the year. Go on a bright, overcast day so that you can use a slower shutter speed to soften the water. Try to avoid the middle of a bright, sunny day when the harsh light creates strong shadows and contrast on the water. Winter is a good time for capturing some ice on the falls, or in the pool below. However, this depends entirely on what type of winter weather is occurring on a given year.

To photograph the wildflowers in the marsh, try going in spring to catch the early blooms. It’s great to go later in the summer season when the marsh is dryer and it’s easier to walk around and get up close. You’ll find a surprising amount of color with the brilliant red cardinal flowers, turtlehead and other native flowers at their peak.

Tips and Techniques

A polarizer filter and neutral density filter are must-haves when photographing waterfalls.

To get the soft water effect, a slow shutter speed is necessary, and these filters help reduce the light to get that cotton candy effect. Use a tripod, and try taking multiple shots at shutter speeds that are 1 stop apart, to use for HDR later. Combining shots into an HDR program creates an extra softening effect on the moving water.

Directions

From the intersection of Route 10 and Route 20 in Granby, head west on Route 20 for 3.8 miles to Route 219. Take Route 219 west for 1.4 miles to parking area on left with sign ‘Enders State Forest’.

GPS coordinates: Latitude: 41.95417, Longitude: -72.87778

www.ctwaterfalls.com/falls/main.php?Enders6

Parking is available in the lot on Route 219, marked with the sign ‘Enders State Forest’. Head downhill along one of the trails leading from the parking lot towards the river, where it meets an old road that runs parallel to the water. The trail on the right end of the parking lot will take you to the top waterfall. Follow the path downstream to the left to get to the other five waterfalls in the series. Across the road, and a little further down, there is a rough road leading to the wildflower marsh in the state forest. Park along the road to access the marsh.

Hours: Sunrise to sunset.

An experimental zoom on a stand of cardinal flowers.

An experimental zoom on a stand of cardinal flowers.

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