An unlikely attraction, the Kings Creek Falls Hike is one of the most beautiful trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
A Complete Guide to Hiking Kings Creek Falls Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Kings Creek Falls Trail
- Distance: 2.3-mile loop trail
- Start: Kings Creek Falls Trailhead
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 6,000 feet
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate
- Time: 2-3 hours
How to Hike to Kings Creek Falls
The Kings Creek Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park. In the region known for its hydrothermal features, the 30-feet waterfall could look odd. Instead the cascading giant yields a pleasing contrast and demystifies the whole region.
The Kings Creek Falls hike starts at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. A concrete staircase descends to the trail from a roadside parking area. For the first half a mile, the path runs along Lower Kings Creek Meadow.
In summer, it’s one of the nicest sections to hike through. The sound of the bubbling water intermixes with bird’s singing, setting up the mood for the entire hike.
0.7 mile into the hike, you come across a sign instructing you to continue on to the left. The right fork – the Cascades Foot section – is only for uphill traffic heading back to the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead.
Left Fork Trail
The Kings Creek Falls Loop Trail springs to the left (clockwise) from the intersection and starts ascending slightly. It doesn’t last long, though. Pretty soon, the path changes its trajectory and descends all the way to Kings Creek Falls.
This area known as the Upper Cascades section used to provide some of the most stunning views of Lassen Volcanic National Park. During the last days of summer of 2022, however, it looked desolate.
The welcoming forest greeting the Kings Creek Falls’ hikers along this stretch was gone. Instead burned trees recounted the misery left by the devastating 2021 Dixie Fire.
Looking around, I could only imagine how beautiful the area once was. But like in the Devastated Area, a popular place in the park that had been severely affected by avalanches and hot blasts in 1915, the trees will grow back here as well. It may take years, but the region will be filled with the lush vegetation once again.
Kings Creek Falls Overlook
At the bottom of the Kings Creek Falls Loop Trail sits a fenced overlook. During our visit, the enclosure was under renovation. Construction workers, perched at the very end of the cliff, were replacing old poles with the new ones.
The hikers could still gaze at the rushing waterfall. But first, they needed to find a proper and safe vantage point.
Standing on the edge of the bluff wasn’t an activity for faint-hearted. I took a few pictures from one of these unofficial “viewing platforms” that were rocks sticking out of the cliff, but didn’t risk to get as close to the edge as some other hikers did. My mom skipped this “sightseeing” part of the Kings Creek Falls hike altogether.
Again, once the overlook is fixed, viewing the splashing waterfall should be much easier and ten times more comfortable.
Hike back to Kings Creek Falls Trailhead
You can hike back to the trailhead the same way you came from, on the Upper Cascades section, or trudge through the strenuous but absolutely gorgeous Cascades Foot section.
The entire trip from the Kings Creek Falls Overlook to the trail intersection you passed by earlier is 0.5 miles. Yet thanks to a series of narrow concrete staircases, it’s the steepest wing of the hike.
Along cascades Kings Creek, carrying its gushing waters to the waterfall below. Only uphill traffic is allowed on this trail.
Things to Know before Hiking Kings Creek Falls Trail
The roadside parking is limited and gets packed quickly. Arrive early if you don’t want to waste time in line waiting for the parking spot to open up.
No Dogs on the Trail
No pets are allowed on the Kings Creek Falls Loop Trail and other trails within Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Winter conditions can persist through early summer, making the trail slippery and the hike quite dangerous. It’s recommended to wear slip-resistant shoes and use hiking staffs.
Giving the dangerous conditions of the trail, hiking is possible from June through October.
Bears May Share the Trail
Bears are spotted occasionally along the Kings Creek Falls Trail. Be sure to keep a safe distance and learn how to protect yourself from the beasts in the wild.
Explore Nearby Places
Apart from Lassen Volcanic National Park, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is my favorite area to visit in Northern California. The place is famous for its 129-foot waterfall that impresses with its massive flow throughout the year.
Fall River Mills
If you look for a quiet place to stay near both of these parks, contact hosts of the Mott’s Cottage, an Airbnb in Fall River Mills. The place is all you can ask for a stay in rural Northern California.
On the outskirts of Lassen Volcanic National Park, you’ll find the Subway Cave. The largest lava tube in the area, it invites you to explore the underground world of the Lassen National Forest that was created some 30,000 years ago.