Kings Creek Falls Loop

Ultra-popular hike to a cascading creek and waterfall in a verdant gorge.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
4 km
Ascent
153 m
Descent
153 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
2.2 km
Gradient
Kings Creek Falls Loop Map

This hike is a must-do in Lassen Volcanic National Park. It features an unusually lush forest and reaches multiple views of a thundering waterfall. For such a popular hike, there isn’t a very good parking situation at the trailhead. It’s just roadside parking, often causing traffic jams with people looking for spots. Try to get here either early or late in the day.

Description

The trail goes first through thick conifers and sunny meadows, near a creek with grassy banks, and stays mostly level. A change comes at a trail junction, however, where you must go left on the Upper Cascades Trail (the trail to the right is one-way, and will later complete the loop). After a short uphill, there’s the option to take a spur to an overlook, where you can see the forested gorge but not the waterfall.

Back on the main trail, you’ll continue along a sunny hillside with views of distant mountains. A few switchbacks descend toward the creek, which audibly rushes below. Once at the bottom, you’ll enter a damp microclimate full of moss and ferns, beneath huge fir trees. The trail leads to a clifftop overlook of the waterfall, protected by wooden railing. A scramble route exists to the base of the falls, if you want to get closer.

To complete the loop, you’ll backtrack some distance before diverging on the Cascades Foot Trail, which is the one-way path. This makes a more pleasant ascent on a hot day, because it stays in the cool of the creekside forest. The final section is a steep and narrow stone staircase. In wet or icy conditions of spring, it may be better to backtrack the Upper Cascades Trail instead of taking these stairs. Above the stairs, you’ll exit the gorge and rejoin the main trail, returning through the flat meadows and forest to the road.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/hikingkingscreekfalls.htm https://www.visitredding.com/hiking-to-kings-creek-falls-in-lassen-volcanic-national-park

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area