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Kings Creek Falls and Sifford Lake

Lassen Volcanic National Park

July 14th, 2013

6.1 miles
960 vertical feet
Total Time: 5:56

Starting elevation
7329 feet
Max elevation
7329 feet

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Red Bluff, take Highway 36 east to Highway 89. Turn left onto Highway 89 and enter Lassen Volcanic National Park (there is an entrance fee). Drive past the large Lassen Peak parking area, then a few miles later park at the Kings Creek trailhead. There are parking spaces along both sides of the road; the trail starts on the right side of the road where there is a stone wall next to a sidewalk.   View Driving Map



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GPX File

There were several cars parked at the trailhead when we arrived. Most of them were probably just going to Kings Creek Falls and back. After prepping, we started off down the trail, which starts off with Kings Creek on the right. Shortly, there's a nice meadow visible to the right as the trail veers away from the creek.

Meadow next to Kings Creek

Kings Creek

Kings Creek

After a half mile, there's a trail intersection. We would basically be doing a lollipop loop (with some side trips), and would return on the trail on the right. For now, though, we took the left fork toward the falls.

Further on, a sign said the old trail along the creek was closed due to hazardous conditions; it was fenced off. Instead, we took the horse trail to the left (a short spur trail straight ahead leads to a viewpoint). This trail leads to some nice views before descending steeply on a couple of switchbacks.

View from the trail

View from the trail

Descending the switchbacks

We soon reached the other end of the closed trail, near the creek. Here we had a nice view of the creek tumbling down. From here, the trail levels off for the most part (still going slightly downhill). At about 1.4 miles from the trailhead, there's another trail intersection. The main trail continues to the left, with a trail to the right leading toward Sifford Lakes. We'd take that trail later, but for now, we continued left toward the falls.

Kings Creek at the intersection with the horse trail

Shortly, we reached an overlook of Kings Creek Falls. It's about 70 feet tall, and the overlook is near the top of the falls. There are some steep use trails that could probably be taken downhill to get a better view, but I'm not sure how safe those are. We stuck to the overlook, then walked uphill a bit to find a spot for lunch.

Kings Creek Falls

Kings Creek Falls

Kings Creek Falls

As we were there, lots of people came by to view the falls. We couldn't actually even see the falls from our lunch spot, though we could hear the water rushing down. It is not the most scenic place to sit down and have lunch. The overlook area is pretty much for standing only.

After lunch, we doubled back to the Sifford Lakes intersection, then turned left, leaving most of the other hikers behind. We soon crossed Kings Creek above the falls over a collection of logs (the wooden plank/bridge itself was broken). Soon after that we were walking near the base of a talus slope. The trail then goes up and down before reaching tiny Bench Lake at about 2.5 miles from the trailhead.

Crossing above Kings Creek Falls

Kings Creek above the falls

Talus slope on the way to Bench Lake

Looking back at the talus slope

Bench Lake is more of a pond, and it dries up by later in the summer. There were 3 or 4 other hikers here, coming in the opposite direction -- the only other hikers we'd see until we rejoined the Kings Creek Falls trail. We stopped at the lake for a few minutes, witnessing hundreds of tadpoles in the water.

Bench Lake

Tadpoles in Bench Lake

Bench Lake

After a short break, we continued on the trail, which now descends steeply for about 0.4 miles. Then, we encountered another trail intersection, turning right to continue on toward Sifford Lakes. The trail now climbs up steeply, back to the elevation of Bench Lake, in about 0.3 miles to another trail intersection. The spur trail to Sifford Lakes continues straight ahead, while the trail to the right leads back toward the trailhead.

Trail beyond Bench Lake

We took the spur trail straight ahead toward Sifford Lakes. The trail goes up and down for about a half mile before reaching the first Sifford Lake, 3.7 miles from the trailhead. It's not a dramatic setting. It's a small lake, with trees lining the shore. But it was a pretty sight on a warm day. As an added bonus, the shore was filled with perfect skipping rocks. We spent quite a bit of time here, skipping rocks, walking right into the lake (it's shallow near the shore), and enjoying the lake all to ourselves.

Sifford Lake

Sifford Lake

Sifford Lake

The hiking book I had with me mentioned a nice view from just off the trail, so after a break at the lake, we followed the instructions, going back to where the trail meets the lake, and heading south on a use trail past a campsite. We soon had a great view looking over a steep cliff to the south. Then we retraced our steps and headed back the way we came. If you have time to explore more, the trail does continue onto the other Sifford Lakes (it looks like there are about 9 lakes in total, one of which looks to be a little larger than the first). It is not much further, and the other lakes are all very close together, but it does involve a bit of climbing, and the first lake was enough for us.

View to the south of Sifford Lake

View to the south of Sifford Lake
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Sifford Lake

We headed downhill for a half mile, then left onto the main trail. The trail now climbs mostly uphill for nearly a mile before leveling off. Shortly after that we crossed over Kings Creek at the edge of the meadow we'd seen near the beginning of the hike. A tenth of a mile later, we turned left onto the Kings Creek Falls trail, reaching the trailhead another 0.4 uphill miles later.

Creek at the edge of the meadow

Creek at the edge of the meadow

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