This is a great hike that we highly recommend when visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. Even if you don't get all the way to Kings Creek Falls, it is a worthwhile trek along a beautiful stream with cascades and smaller waterfalls.
We drove into the south entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park on CA Hwy 89. Most of the snow from our visit in May was gone and the scenery was much different with greenery and wildflowers in place of the several feet of snow.
We were on a mission to do two hikes today - the Kings Creek Falls Trail and the Bumpass Hell Trail (posted in a separate entry).
After driving into the center of the park, crossing the highest point of the park road at 8500 feet, we eventually pulled off at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead.
The hike started along Kings Creek which crossed the road at the parking area.
We followed the creek through a meadow for awhile before the trail left the creek-side for a few tenths of a mile. The trail then came back to the creek at the start of a long series of cascades.
That shot was looking back upstream. Then we walked beside the creek and began a fairly steep, rocky descent as the creek flowed down through the volcanic rock.
The Cascades seemed to go on forever. Even if we never reached the main falls, the Cascades themselves were stunning.
And we couldn't get any closer.
Here's Linda next to one section near the bottom of the Cascades.
The Cascades ended with this lovely little waterfall.
I could have sat right there on the rocks for hours, but there was more to see. The trail kept going down along Kings Creek. And there were more cascades and small waterfalls.
We took a picture of a couple and they, in turn, took a shot of us with the water rushing behind us.
Though it was a warm July day, the hike was cool and our long pants and sleeves kept the mosquitoes at bay. Several people in shorts and t-shirts commented they wished they had on their mosquito hiking gear.
Ho hum. Another small waterfall.
The hike to that point was worth it, but we still hadn't arrived at the main attraction. Another couple tenths of a mile and finally we came to the 43-foot Kings Creek Falls.
We admired the falls from the observation area where there was a post and cable barrier to keep you from falling over the cliff.
If you are very careful, beyond the barrier, you can scramble down the rocks to the base of the falls. As usual, I took several photos from different perspectives.
About half way down, we found a comfortable rock where we sat for an hour or so watching and listening to the falls. We also watched American Dippers gathering food and taking it into a nest beside the falls. If you are in the west, always look for American Dippers near waterfalls and rapid, rocky streams.
The gray, non-descript birds are amazing to watch. They are an aquatic songbird that actually swims and walks on stream bottoms to catch food. It's wild to watch something that looks like a chunky, short-tailed robin feed underwater.
We also watched hummingbirds flit around the red flowers on the canyon wall. We could have sat there all afternoon.
Oh, in addition to the birds, we saw marmots and deer along the trail.
Eventually, I scrambled the rest of the way to the base of the falls. The last 20 feet down the rocks are a bit dicey.
You can barely see me at the bottom center of the photo.
I had read in our trail guide that you need to get to the falls by 1:00 before the afternoon shadows darken them. We got there around 1:30 and it wasn't long before the shadows were indeed making their move.
I took one last shot before we left to show the different tiers of this beautiful waterfall.
What a great short hike! It's 1.2 miles one way. Of course, getting to the falls is all downhill, but it still requires care and sure-footedness from the Cascades to Kings Creek Falls. The return trip to the trailhead is pretty steep for the first third, then it is a gradual climb before leveling out to a fairly flat path for the last half of the trail.
We'd highly recommend the Kings Creek Falls Trail if visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park.
From the trailhead, we backtracked in the Jeep toward the Bumpass Hell Trailhead. We stopped a couple of times for photo ops.
This is from a turnout looking out toward Lake Almanor where the campground we are working at is located.
And this is Lassen Peak behind Lake Helen.
In our May 21 visit, Lake Helen was completely frozen and Lassen Peak was covered in snow.
The rest of our afternoon on the Bumpass Hell Trail is documented in a separate post.