#picturingtrails Dispatches: Jenny Riffle

Jenny Riffle, Mountains to Sound Trail, 2017.

Jenny Riffle is one of two photographers to receive our Picturing Trails commission in 2017, a project in partnership with King County Parks to comprehensively capture and interpret the King County Regional Trail System through fine art photography. Jenny has been out on the trails photographing since October of 2017—here, she shares an update:

Hello! Jenny Riffle here to share some of my work with you. I am a native of the Pacific Northwest and have been working with the landscape of this region for the last few years in my photography. The natural world is a beautiful and sometimes unsettling place. It can be full of mystery and unknown forces. The vastness of the forest and the ocean can be scary, but also full of beauty and calm. The connection people have with the natural world in this area is strong and it is easily accessible here in King County. This is one of the reasons that every time I left the Pacific Northwest, I found myself being called back.

Exploring the Regional Trail System over the last few months has introduced me to many new green areas within the county. I find that you do not need to go far to find yourself in the middle of what seems like wilderness, but is in fact very urban. I have been photographing what you see from the trails and how you can feel transported to a different place as soon as you step on the trail. These trails traverse the whole county and go through many diverse surroundings.

Jenny Riffle, Springbrook Trail, 2018.

One of my favorite moments was on the Springbrook Trail, which goes along the brook not far from IKEA—in one direction I could see the neon glow of the IKEA sign, but in the other direction a blue heron was flying along the waterway. It was a stormy day with rain on and off and I had my rain poncho on with my camera gear under it. I was walking through a portion of wetland and the trail was on a raised wooden boardwalk and the rain had stopped so I was setting up a shot, then suddenly a huge rainbow appeared! I knew I only had a few moments to catch it and got very flustered and realized I was out of film and had to reload my camera—it was a hectic few moments but I reloaded, got a few shots, and then it was gone.

Another favorite spot of mine is on the trail closest to my house on Beacon Hill, the Mountains to Sound Trail. I have been on this trail many times over the last few months. If you start at the south end of the trail, there is a huge forest off to one side while I-5 and all of SODO stretches out to the other side; then you reach a turn and suddenly the downtown skyline is in front of you. Here there is an amazing lush forest in the middle of the city, and I love the contrast of the built world peeking through the trees.

I have been on about half of the trails and I’m looking forward to exploring the next half in the coming months. Check out my Instagram account to see regular updates from Picturing Trails!