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Hiking & Walking: California

Quick Facts

Bench Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 7,286 Feet (2271.2 Meters) Kings Creek Falls turnout Highway 89
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain, Round Trip: 1,000 Feet (311.7 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 6,300 Feet (1963.8 Meters) Pacific Crest Trail
Length, One-way: 5 Miles (8.33 Kilometers)
Recommended Season: Summer
Usage: Light
USGS Maps: Reading Peak 7.5 Minute Series
Vehicle Accessibility: Passenger Vehicle


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Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

The Bench Lake Trail leads from the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead, on Highway 89, to the Pacific Crest Trail, one mile north of Warner Valley Campground. The total mileage of this route is five miles and it passes some spectacular scenery. It leads through the Kings Creek valley then traverses eastward along the northern rim of Hot Springs Creek canyon.

Begin your hike at 7,286 feet along Highway 89 where Kings Creek crosses the highway from Upper Meadows. The route descends along the creek and through meadows surrounding the stream to a trail junction at four tenths of a mile. The trail joining Kings Creek Trail from the right is the Sifford Lakes Trail. Keep to the main trail (left).

A short distance eastward you'll reach another junction. Both of the trails at this fork lead eventually to Kings Creek Falls. The left side is an alternative route for equestrians and backpackers with heavy loads, being less steep than that to the right. The right side of the fork follows Kings Creek closely. A stairway has been cut out of the rock along this steep section of stream called the Cascades. Once past this steep section of trail the left fork joins the main path again.

From this point it is a quarter mile to the falls. The trail continues to descend, but on a more moderate grade. A few hundred feet before you reach the falls you'll notice a trail leading southward across Kings Creek. This is the Bench Lake Trail, before you turn right at this junction walk to the falls and enjoy the scenery.

Once you've seen the falls go back to the Bench Lake Trail junction and walk southward crossing the stream on a log bridge. Immediately after the stream crossing the trail ascends out of the valley. The ascent is short and under the forest cover. The trail flattens at the base of a 140-foot volcanic rock wall. Follow the base of this wall for two tenths of a mile when you'll ascend slightly to Bench Lake. (The lake is often severely evaporated by summers end.)

The route contours the northern shore of Bench Lake then descends 160 feet from the bench. At the bottom of this short descent is a trail junction. The joining trail reaches our route from the south and Sifford Lakes Trail.

As the Bench Lake Trail leads past this junction it continues to descend. The next half mile drops 230 feet to an overlook of the Hot Springs Creek canyon. Beyond this overlook the trail turns northward leaving the rim of the canyon. The trail meanders along the ridge slightly north of the canyon rim for another three quarters of a mile. Along this portion of the route it descends 320 feet, meeting the Pacific Crest Trail at 6,300 feet almost directly east of Bench Lake.

Directions from Southwest Entrance: Drive north on the park road, Highway 89, 12 miles to the Kings Creek Falls turnout.

Directions from Northwest Entrance: Drive southeast on the park road, Highway 89, 17 miles to the Kings Creek Falls turnout.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Mid-June through September (NOTE: The trail may be snow covered in the Early Summer and Early Fall.) .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: James Collins (San Francisco, CA)
Time of Day: At Bench lake by noon from warner valley
Length of Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: A very pleasant and scenic hike up from Drakesbad in Warner Valley to the Kings Creek falls via bench lake,
Conditions: The bridge at Kings Creek just above the falls is out. Crossing is still possible on the remains of the collapsed log bridge.
Water Availability: Took 100 oz water and used most of it.
Recommended Clothing: Shorts, tank top and plenty of insect repellant.
Suggested Accessories: Trekking poles will come in handy.



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Trailhead Parking Bench Lake Trail - Kings Creek Falls turnout Highway 89
Yes
ICON Backpacking Bench Lake Trail - backcountry permit required
Yes
ICON Dispersed Camping Bench Lake Trail - backcountry permit required
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Bench Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Plant Identification Bench Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Wildflower Identification Bench Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Viewing Scenery Bench Lake Trail
Yes



Related Activities
Kings Creek Trail - This trail descends 1,300 feet in four miles from Highway 89 to the Pacific Crest Trail.

Sifford Lakes Trail - To reach the easternmost Sifford Lake from the Kings Creek Trailhead hikers can follow a trail two and a half miles southeastward.



More Information

Visitor Information:

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

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