BRENT PENNINGTON Upper Pine Bottom Run defines Upper Pine Bottom State Park, near Waterville, PA, photographed on the afternoon of 29 August 2015.

Pulling into the parking lot at Upper Pine Bottom State Park, I’ll be honest and admit that I said, out loud, “This is it?” followed by some speculation that the folks who planned state parks back in the day must have been having a slow year, or maybe were desperate to meet a quota.

Maybe not the kindest of thoughts, but you’ll have to forgive me.

The trip to Upper Pine Bottom took me into the Pine Creek Gorge, a ruggedly beautiful seam between mountains visibly steeper than any I’d seen that morning.  I followed Pine Creek up through the small town of Waterville and a few miles beyond before I crossed over and began climbing the mountainside.  The road isn’t as steep as I expected, however, and follows – and crosses – Upper Pine Bottom Run, from which the park takes it name.

Like Sand Bridge, Upper Pine Bottom State Park is a picnic spot, a gravel parking area on the side of the road.  It is by far the smallest of the parks I visited; what you see is what you get, and all there is to see is a small grassy area, a picnic table, and Upper Pine Bottom Run hugging the hillside.

BRENT PENNINGTON Upper Pine Bottom Run defines Upper Pine Bottom State Park, near Waterville, PA, photographed on the afternoon of 29 August 2015.

At first I wasn’t sure there was even a photo to be made.  The park side of the run is all built up, constructed of blocks of stones encased in wire as a defense against flood erosion.  But at the top edge of the park, there’s a short dirt path down to the run, just past where the blocks end, and I was able to step out into the creek itself, keeping dry atop a few larger rocks until I arrived at a massive, mostly flat one mid-stream, where I setup the tripod.

And it turns out that the run is, unsurprisingly, photogenic.  Looking upstream into the green growth of the forest, watching the run tumble down a few small falls and under a fallen treetrunk, it was easy to craft a few good shots.

Which just goes to show that there are photos to be found in unassuming spots.

BRENT PENNINGTON Upper Pine Bottom Run defines Upper Pine Bottom State Park, near Waterville, PA, photographed on the afternoon of 29 August 2015.

Would I return to Upper Pine Bottom?  Probably not, unless I happened to be passing by.  But it’s worth mentioning that the stretch along Pine Creek is promising.  I passed several pull offs that granted river access, and saw what appeared to be a rather extensive riverside rail trail.  All along my drive through the mountains, I could see people down in Pine Creek, swimming, fishing, and kayaking.  And the way it’s tucked into the mountains, it’s damn attractive.  If nothing else, it’d be a good autumn foliage drive.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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