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Photographing Paradise Meadows Trail on Vancouver Island

Paradise Meadows Trail, oh, the memories I have of you.
Being dragged out of bed in the wee hours on a Saturday. Why? Because my father wanted to hike Paradise Meadows. Being rudely awakened didn’t make me adore the meadows. It was always the morning after a night out with my high school friends.
All I remember is it was cold, a logging road and a trail in the mud. Oh-WOW I get to feed the whiskey jacks! Yes, we hiked the area before boardwalks, parking lots and trails. Way before Mount Washington was a ski hill.

Whiskey Jack at Paradise Meadows Trail

Table of Contents

Where is the Paradise Meadows Trail?

Paradise Meadows Trail is on Vancouver Island, and can be accessed by driving south along the Strathcona Parkway for 17 km and then making a left turn onto Nordic Drive. Parking is next to Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre. The full loop of the Paradise Meadows Trail is 3.5 km long, and is fully accessible for people with disabilities.

Getting to Paradise Meadows Trailhead

The Paradise Meadows trailhead is by Mount Washington in Strathcona Provincial Park. The trail has beautiful green meadows, ponds, and lovely mountain views. It’s a great place for a day out with your camera.

The boardwalks are accessible from early June to late November. The area can be accessed via snowshoes or cross country skis during the winter and early spring. In early autumn, after the first frost, the meadows change to their beautiful fall-colour.

Directions

  • From Highway 19 
  • Head west on Strathcona Parkway for 20 klm
  • take a right onto Nordic Drive for  3 klm
  • At the end of Nordic Drive is a large parking lot. 

Map to paradise meadows in strathcona park

Boardwalk and Trails Description

The Paradise Meadows Trail is a 2.8 km loop trail. The trail passes through a beautiful meadow and several small ponds, making it great for a day out with a camera or family and friends. Trail maps can be found at the wilderness centre.

On average, it takes 36 minutes to complete and is regarded as being simple. Hiking and strolling are popular activities. Therefore, the Paradise Meadows trail is very popular.

Dogs are permitted, but they must be leashed. As of the writing of this blog, if dogs are not leashed, they may be banned. Upon entering the boardwalk, you will find a warning sign:

Map of Paradise Meadows Trail

Trails from Paradise Meadows Trailhead:

There are many trails from Paradise Meadows Trailhead that vary in difficulty and distance.

Trails from Paradise Meadows Trailhead include:

  • Lake Helen Mackenzie
  • Battleship Lake
  • Helen Mackenzie Battleship Lake Loop
  • Mount Washington and Cruickshank Canyon
  • Kawi Lake and Forbidden Plateau Loop
  • Mount Albert Edwards
  • Mount Elma
  • and many more.

I suggest checking out alltrails for a complete list.

 

photographing paradise meadows trail

Photographing Paradise Meadows Trail on Vancouver Island

1.  The best times of day

During the morning or early evening is the best time to take a photo of Paradise Meadows Trail. The meadows are prettiest during these times. The entire trail system of the Paradise Meadows offers amazing hiking and photo opportunities.

2.  The best weather conditions

Unfortunately, we cannot predict the weather. In BC, it’s one of those things. Wait 30 minutes, it’ll change. I will have to admit I don’t care about the weather, cloudy, sunny, rainy or snowing. There are a lot of photo opportunities within paradise meadows.

3.  The best equipment

You will need a camera, a good DLSR or mirrorless. You will want a system where you can change lenses Bring a tripod, and I would suggest a remote shutter. A polarizer and filter system, I always bring and a lens hood.

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4.The best camera settings

I suggest photographing the trail in the early morning or late evening when the sun is low in the sky. The best camera settings to use are manual or aperture priority. I shoot at f/11 or higher with a lower ISO, usually 100.

White balance should be set to “daylight,” “shade,” or “cloudy” to capture the right tone. Shoot in RAW to capture detail and colour accuracy.

5.  The best composition tips

Force yourself out of bed to capture the morning’s golden hour. Warm light at this time of day brings out the colours and details of the meadows.

When composing your shots, remember to use the rule of thirds. This means dividing your frame into nine equal parts and placing your subject on one of the intersecting points. This will help to create a more balanced and pleasing composition.

This will help to focus the viewer’s attention on what is important in your image. Use contrast to draw attention to important details. For example, include a dark tree in front of a bright sky. And finally, frame within a frame. For example, by including a tree branch in the foreground of your shot that frames the subject in the distance.

6. The best subject matter

My favourite subjects to photograph at Paradise Meadows Trail are the lakes and their reflections. Boardwalks surrounded by trees, meadows with the mountains in the background. The natural features make for great photographs.

7. The best lens choices

There is no one perfect lens for landscape photography. You should experiment to find what fits your artistic vision. A wide-angle lens is ideal for capturing a wider field of view, showing the vast beauty of the land. While a telephoto lets you capture the details. Yes, this works for us hard core landscape and nature photographers as well

Landscape photographers should consider what lenses they need based on the type of photography they plan to do.

8. The best time of year

I cannot stress this enough. The greatest season, in my opinion, is late fall, right after the first frost. The meadows’ floor becomes a treasure trove of colour. My 2nd favourite is winter when the snow is draped like blankets on the trees and the ground. Get there early before they groom the trails.

What equipment do I need to photograph the trail?

Photograph of Paradise Meadows trail

1. A camera

A DSLR or Mirrorless camera is best for photographing the trail, allowing more detail to be captured in the image. While smartphones can take landscape photos, I don’t think you can express yourself as creatively. IE longer exposure like star-scapes, cloud-scapes etc..

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2. A tripod

A tripod is essential for long exposure photography, as it prevents movements resulting in a blurred image. It’s essential for time-lapse, as it ensures the frames are aligned correctly. For landscape photography, using a tripod with a wide aperture ensures when using slower shutter speed, the photo remains in focus.

  • You need a tripod for long exposure photography: If you want to capture tack sharp photos, you’ll want a tripod.
  • A tripod is essential for photographing long exposures: Photographing with shutter speeds longer than 1/3 seconds requires the use of a tripod to avoid blurry images as a result of your hand movements.
  • You need a tripod to take good photos: Without a tripod, your photos will be blurry and difficult to focus.
  • You only have so many options to increase the amount of light you capture: By widening the aperture (decreasing depth of field), increasing ISO (making image more noisy), or reducing shutter speed (susceptible to handshake).
  • A tripod is essential for time-lapse photography: Frames must be aligned correctly to create a quality time-lapse.
  • For telephoto lens: Narrow field of view reduce the amount of light coming into the camera, necessitating the use of a tripod.

3. A wide-angle lens

  • Wide-angle lenses create a dramatic and distinctive look by exaggerating perspective, which can make your photos more interesting.
  • They offer an expansive field of view, making it possible to capture sweeping vistas in one photo.
  • They are perfect for landscape photographers as they can easily capture the grandeur of the scene before them.
  • Wide-angle lenses create a dramatic and distinctive look: Wide-angle lenses create the potential for exaggerated perspective, which can produce a real sense of drama in your photos.
  • They offer an expansive field of view: Wide-angle lenses allow you to capture sweeping vistas.
  • They are perfect for landscape photographers: Wide-angles are popular with landscape photographers because their extensive field of view makes it possible to capture sweeping vistas.

4. A telephoto lens

One benefit of using a telephoto lens when photographing landscapes is you get closer to individual features. This can help capture the details of the area. For example, the rocks of a waterfall. (Bet you saw that coming Lars)

A telephoto lens gives you a different perspective, such as background blur. Although this approach to landscape photography is unconventional, the results can be stunning.

Telephoto lenses offer a new perspective that can be refreshing and original..

  • Telephoto lenses let you get closer to individual landscape features.
  • Telephoto lenses offer a new perspective that can be refreshing and original.
  • You’ll get a different perspective with a telephoto lens: You’ll be able to see things from a different perspective, featuring compression and beautiful background bokeh.
  • It may not be conventional, but it looks great!: With a telephoto lens, you may not follow the traditional photographic style, but it will still look great!

7. A filter

A filter is a piece of glass or plastic placed in front of a lens to modify the light entering the camera. Filters can be used for a variety of purposes, such as reducing glare and reflections, enhancing colours, and reducing light coming into the lens.

By changing the way the camera sees the scene, filters help photographers create different effects in their shots. There are a variety of filters available, each with a specific purpose.

For more on filter check out or blog on Neutral Density Filters.

8. A lens hood

A lens hood’s primary function is to shade the front of your lens, preventing light from shining over it and creating undesired flares and a washed-out, low contrast appearance. A lens cowl blocks light from reaching the camera, producing a crisp image that is free of glare.

Other trails to photograph in the area

Conclusion for photographing Paradise Meadows

Paradise Meadows trail will always be “a must fall photography location”. Now that I’m older and wiser, I have fond memories of the area. Yes! I’m still getting up at 5: 30 to photograph this area. But now it’s on my terms.

In late fall, the trail has beautiful green/red meadows, lovely reflections in the ponds, and mountain views. What more could a landscape photographer ask for?

I hope to see you there next fall.

Frequently Asked questions

Paradise Meadows trail is a beautiful hiking destination located in the summer. The meadows are full of wildlife and the scenery is breathtaking. The trails are well-maintained and offer hikers a variety of options to choose from. Paradise Meadows is also a great place to camp during the summer months.

The best time to photograph Paradise Meadows is late fall. The meadows are full of wildflowers and have changed colour. The hike and views from the boardwalk are beautiful all year round.

There are several trails in Paradise Meadows, each with a different description. Mount Edward is a popular hiking trail with stunning views of the surrounding area. Lake Helen is a large, beautiful lake with plenty of wildlife to be seen. Battleship Lake is a small, but beautiful lake perfect for fishing. Cruickshank canyon trail takes hikers on an interesting and challenging hike through an impressive canyon system.

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