Kings Creek Falls

King’s Creek Falls is the largest waterfall in Lassen Volcanic National Park, gracefully cascading 70 feet over volcanic rock. The reward is high relative to the effort; the 1.5-mile trail leading to the falls is moderately difficult and stunningly scenic.

From Highway 89, follow signs for King’s Creek Falls, not to be confused with King’s Creek Picnic Area. The trailhead is next to a large white bridge with enough room to park on either side.

My friend and I start along the trail on a summer evening after work. We take the Horse Trail, as the popular Cascades Trail is currently closed to due unsafe conditions. It will reopen once needed trail maintenance can be completed.

The trail meanders through meadows and patches of red fir and white pine. We cross gingerly over several wet spots where the rushing water helps sustain lime-green grasses. Our descent of approximately 700 feet begins in earnest about a half mile into the trek as we skip down loose rock, walking lightly like the deer we glimpsed along the road earlier. As the trail opens, the view stretches to volcanic ridges marking the horizon.

I keep my eyes peeled for a mother bear and her two cubs that frequent areas near the trail. Lassen is home to an estimated 50 or 60 black bears. This time, I am not lucky enough to spot one.

As the sun lowers, the light glints golden and auburn on the hemlock trees. I am fooled by the first waterfall we come across, thinking it isn’t as large as the pictures I had seen. When we arrive at King’s Creek Falls, there is no mistaking its laughing cascades and steep drop-offs. The setting sun reflects off of the waterfall, casting a final golden glow before kowtowing to the stars.

To get a closer look at the waterfall, I take a short walk on slippery, wet rock, with only a thin metal wire separating me from a misstep and dire injury or death. The rushing water reminds me of Nature’s power and beauty, so clearly woven throughout the landscape at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

There is power in a single flower on a windowsill, a single blade of grass jutting through concrete cracks. It may not be as obvious as a 70-foot waterfall, but is present nonetheless, if only you take the time to look, both in your backyard and in America’s preserved public spaces.

We find our way back to the car with the aid of headlamps, shutting them off and pausing periodically to admire the clear pinpoints of light puncturing the night’s black canvas.

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Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 40.4598787 Longitude: -121.4443302 Elevation: 6880 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Leah Duran

Recreational Opportunities

Summer activities at King's Creek Falls include hiking, backpacking and photography.

Seasons Accessible

King’s Creek Falls is accessible once Highway 89 through the park opens in early summer, typically late June or mid-July. Even when the road opens, snow can persist on the trail. For a long, challenging day hike or overnight trip, King’s Creek Falls can also be accessed from Warner Valley. The main park road typically closes after the first heavy snowfall, usually late October or early to mid-November.

Fees

Admission into the park is $10 and is valid at any park entrance for seven days.

ADA Accessibility Notes

The trail to King’s Creek Falls is not wheelchair accessible. More information about accessibility in Lassen Volcanic National Park can be found at http://www.nps.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are not allowed on any park trails. More information about the Park's policies regarding pets can be found at http://www.nps.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/pets.htm

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