Lassen Volcanic NP – Kings Creek Waterfall Hike


What? : This is one of the park more popular hikes, 2.5 miles long out and back will take you through a meadows, canyon cliff viewing point, and waterfalls. The lower section of this hike to the waterfall was damage by Dixie fire.

If you want to hike longer you can combine this into a 4.6 miles loop trail that pass through a lake and few landscapes viewing points.

This loop trail section was also damaged by the Dixie fire, but when I hiked here in June 2022 the trail was already cleared up by the park trail maintenance crew.


Where? : The Kings Creek trailhead is located on the main park road, 13 miles from Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center (south park entrance) and 14 miles from Loomis Ranger Station (north park entrance).

The roadside parking is on the wide road pull-outs at both side of the park main road.

Google Map Link


When? : Summer and early fall. At winter the road and the trail are covered with deep snow.


Due note 1: This is one of the most popular trails in the park, so arrive early if you want to avoid crowds. Parking spots are available along both sides of the road by the trailhead.


Due note 2: There are no restrooms at the trailhead.


Due note 3: When I visit here, June 2022, sections of the trails were hit by the Dixie fire and the small viewing platform above the waterfall was destroyed and was closed for access. You can still see the waterfall if you will walk to the cliff section just behind the close viewing platform.


Due note 4: Pets are not allowed on any hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park.


Due note 5: Due to its elevation and wind protected from the ridge above the Kings Creek Falls trail can be covered in 15 feet or more of snow in the winter so check for trail opening if you are coming early summer.


Due note 6: As Always bring plenty of water to your hike, it can be hot out here and when crossing burned forest areas there is no shade, and you are fully expose to sun.


Due note 7: Lassen is home to an estimated 50 black bears. As in the rest of California there are only Black Bears even if their color is brown. I saw that Kink Creek is a place you may spot bears.

When hiking Cluster Lakes loop hike, I saw a Bear, he was relatively far and running away from me, but I still manage to take some pictures.

When Hiking be Bear aware and stay safe, for more information:



My thoughts: This is a popular trail, I hiked here late in the afternoon but there were still 15 cars at the roadside trail head.

Near the road the trail was covered with melting snow packs but as I head down it cleared up completely.

Hiking to the waterfall is all the way downhill so hiking back up to the road can be challenging, just walk it slow and it will be over.

I must admit that reaching to the waterfall was a little bit disappointing, it is not the most impressive waterfall I saw, even at early summer where the river flowing with melting snow water, probably late summer and fall it has less water and even less impressive. I did like the view of the hundred feet long cascade section of the gorge that is located before the waterfall (one way trail).



The visit:


Most people are here for the 2.5 miles round trip to the waterfalls, this hike include 500 feet elevation climbing on your way back so plan accordingly.

I will describe below both the short out and back 2.5 miles waterfall hike and the 4.6 miles Bench Lake Loop Trail.



Kings Creek Waterfall Hike:

The trail descends from the road into a flat land at the edge of Lower Meadow, after 0.5 mile from the road you will reach a trail junction on your right, from here you will come back if you decide to take the Bench Lake loop.


The route stays relatively level where it stays to the left and Kings Creek turn right and drops 200 feet over the next quarter of a mile via dozens of small falls and cascades.

On your way you will pass a clearly marked “Do Not Enter” trail, this one-way trail is used only by people coming back from the cascade below, keep hiking straight.


At this section the forest clears up and you will hike right to cliff edge viewing point looking over the gorge below you and to the far park east section.

The Left fork trail makes a longer gradual descent down, it leads away from the creek, and with a series of switchbacks the trail descends all the way to the gorge below. After 1.1 miles from the trailhead, you will reach a trail junction.

Here you need to turn left and hike additional 0.3 miles to the waterfall.


When I visit here, during June 2022, the waterfall viewing platform was close to any access because the fire destroyed the protecting fence.

I went behind the viewing platform where you can have a view of the waterfall and hike down to the base of it.

This 40-foot waterfall is nice, but I must admit it was less impressive than I anticipated.

After visiting the waterfall, and taking few pictures, you will hike back up to the parking lot, this time walk into the creek and get into the one-way cascade section of the trail.

Here the creek water is running over long rockslide creating a narrow rushing cascade. The trail climbs along the creek with series of steps and after short but steep climb you will reach back the main trail.

Here you will turn left and hike back to the starting point.



Bench Lake Loop Trail:

The entire loop trail including visiting the cascade and the waterfall was 4.6 miles with 700 ft accent and it took me total of 2.5 hours to complete.


After visiting the waterfall, I saw that I have time and decide to hike the Bench Lake loop.

Just before reaching the waterfall there is a trail junction, here you will head into Bench Lake Trail, you will cross the river to the other side.


From this creek crossing the trail climbs alongside the lower section of expose rocky cliff. After 0.6 mile of hiking along the cliff line you will get into a small valley and reach the small Bench Lake.

All the forest section from Bench Lake to the meadows near our starting point was burned out; Here you will witness firsthand how the fire change the landscape for many years to come, the shallow small lake water was filled to black ash mud.

After the passing the lake, the trail keeps heading east and descend for additional 0.35 mile, there you will reach a trail junction. Here you need to turn right and start to climb west.

After 0.3 mile of climbing, you will see a trail to you left, Sifford Lakes Spur Trail that led to few lakes, this looks like a fun hike to do but it was already getting late, and I want to do another hike that day.

Keep hiking up on Sifford Lakes Spur Trail for another 1.1 mile where it reaches back the Kings Creek meadows.

I cross the meadows to the other side, reconnect to the main waterfall trail, turn left, and headed back to the trailhead.


Although not long the loop is fun hike to do.

If this is a must hike to do?

The answer is probably: no, but this extend and diversify the waterfall hike.

I did this hike clockwise, first visit the Waterfalls and only then went to the loop, I do recommend doing it counterclockwise, start at the high section first, visit the waterfall and from there take the one-way trail near the cascades on your way up.