Monday, September 19, 2011

Kings Creek Cascade - Lassen National Park

          From our campsite at Summit Lake I drove several miles south along the main park road before reaching the Kings Creek Falls trailhead. There were six cars in the lot as I set off on my hike. I immediately crossed paths with two separate parties headed in the opposite direction which accounted for two of the cars in the lot. I often times count the cars at a trailhead (within reason) and then the number of groups/people I encounter so that I know when I will most likely have the trails to myself.
          The trail descends for a couple of hundred yards paralleling Kings Creek before leveling out along a large open meadow.

Trailside Meadow

          Wildflowers crowded the creeks edge with yellow and purple splashes. After passing the meadow and entering a forest the trail leaves the creek and begins to undulate.
          I passed an older couple and another party of 3 hiking in the opposite direction meaning there was just one car left in the lot unaccounted for. The clouds in the sky were dark and threatening and did a good job of discouraging the majority of hikers. I was expecting rain at any moment but it never did come.
          After about 3/4 of a mile I came to a junction with the Cascade trail and the Horse trail, both leading to the same place. Currently the cascade trail is closed due to hazardous conditions mainly because our national parks are rampant with inexperienced hikers like the folks that die in Yosemite each year. I’m sure erosion is part of the problem as well. With that being said, accidents do occur and you should use extreme caution when hiking in any inherently dangerous situation. People seem to greatly underestimate the force of moving water and too often fall victim to its torrent.
          At the junction there was a chain link fence blocking access to the Cascade trail. I was faced with a dilemma. Do I stay on the proper route, or do I defy park authority and let the explorer in me have his victory?
          Well that was an easy question. I bypassed the fence and continued down the Cascade trail. There are many faint paths so I just followed the most prominent one which led me down a steep embankment toward Kings Creek Cascade.

Steep Embankment Leading to Cascade

          Mottled textured cliffs hemmed in the Cascade on both sides offering some precarious overlooks. The skies to the East were crowded with sinister looking clouds and the horizon was a sliver of smoldering crimson.

Kings Creek Canyon

Kings Creek Cascade Overlooks

          By the time I scrambled down to the bottom of the cascade I was a bit disoriented and actually thought I was at Kings Creek Falls.

Bottom of Kings Creek Cascade

Kings Creek Cascade

          There was still a shred of doubt in my mind but with daylight burning quickly I decided to call it quits regardless and make my way back up the Cascade taking photos along the way.

Kings Creek Cascade

Paintbrush and Kings Creek Cascade

Cliffs on Opposite Side of Kings Creek

Precarious Cliffs

Storm Clouds Brewing

          At the top I opted to avoid the trail and continue following Kings Creek whose banks were decorated with vibrant wildflowers and patches of pristine meadow grass.

Kings Creek Studded with Wildflowers

Kings Creek

Pure Rushing Water

          Eventually I reunited with the trail and paced meditatively back to the car. I still had major doubts floating around in my head as to whether I had even made it to the falls or not. Back at camp after further research I concluded that I only made it as far as the Cascade. Either way I was satisfied with my adventure and have the Falls to look forward to in the future.

(Click HERE to continue reading about day 2 of our Lassen Trip)

For more resources on hiking in Lassen visit Lassen Hiking Association

1 comment:

  1. I've done the full hike. King Creek Falls is a bit of an anticlimax. King Creek Cascade, on the other hand, is an absolutely beautiful spot, and one of my favorite places anywhere. The trail though the cascade canyon is officially closed through 2018, though I think the closure is worth ignoring. The canyon trail is still passable as long as you're careful with your footing, and its too spectacular of a spot to miss!