To be perfectly honest, Second Falls was an ok waterfall but nothing great. With all the people here it made it even less impressive to me. There might be some photo potential here in the Spring with rhododendron bushes in bloom or later in the Fall with nice colors. As it was, I was less than impressed.
The short hike to the waterfall begins at the lower end of the parking area for Graveyard Fields, a well-marked parking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is located around mile 418.8. The GPS coordinates for the parking area are here:
Use the following link to customize your own directions to Second Falls or just click through the map below.
Go towards the bottom of the parking area and follow the signs. Cross the creek. This is actually the Yellowstone Prong of East Fork Pigeon River. After crossing the river follow the trail downstream to the right. There are several steps going to the base and returning up the stairs is the most challenging part – not bad at all.
Because of proximity, a wide angle lens is a must. Most of your photos will be portrait (vertical) orientation but you might want to try some isolated sections in landscape as well.
This waterfall is a great place to explore various compositions due to vegetation and rocks, not to mention a plethora of people. If you are somewhat agile, rock hop across and up closer to the waterfall.
Another waterfall that is highly exposed, expect to deal with hash lighting conditions except early and late or in heavy overcast conditions. Bracket your exposures to see what works best.
I always recommend using a tripod for waterfall photos but the water volume is high enough here to play with faster shutter speeds as well.
Remember, have FUN! It is a beautiful place and you are blessed to be there, even if it is with several dozen newly discovered friends.
Here you go.
Waterfall-Picture-Guide › North Carolina Waterfalls › Second Falls