Kings Canyon Falls, Nevada

I love finding waterfalls in geographic locations that don’t necessarily conjure up the thought of waterfalls. I’ve mentioned before that Nevada is one of those places for me. There are waterfalls for those who look, though! There are a number in the area near Las Vegas (including First Creek and Lost Creek Falls), and one of my followers let me know about waterfalls in Lamoille Canyon near Elko (which I have added to my list of places to visit). If you live in the Reno/Carson City area, there are a few waterfalls near the cities, including the previously mentioned Hunter Creek Falls. In Carson City, there is also Kings Canyon Falls, a small, but beautiful and easy-to-visit waterfall.

It’s a very easy drive outside of Carson City’s downtown area (though you are still officially in Carson City based on boundaries). At the parking area, you hike up mildly steep switchbacks for just over 1/4 of a mile to reach the falls. After hiking almost 6 miles round trip in warmer conditions to see Hunter Creek Falls earlier that day, the short hike in the cool shade of the evening was very enjoyable. (I was a bit cold, actually!) It’s not a big waterfall, about 30′ or so, but it’s worth a detour. In late May, there was water flowing, though it might dry up as it gets warmer in July and August. When it’s flowing, though, I’m guessing it’s rather popular, as there were a surprising number of people hiking to the falls.


  1. In Carson City, the main road running north/south is NV-529.
  2. The road that leads to the falls starts of as West King Street, but it doesn’t directly connect with NV-529. You first have to turn on a street running parallel to it (W Musser if coming from the north or W 2nd Street if coming from the south would work), and then you turn left or right on a road such as S Curry Street to get to West King Street. (Convoluted, I know…) Then turn heading west onto West King Street. (It helps to look at a map or have a GPS here.)
  3. Just keep going west along W King Street. It turns into Kings Canyon Road (which is also numbered as National Forest Road 39). You don’t keep driving on this road until it ends, but instead stop at the parking area for the falls, just under 3 miles from NV-529. This area is rather large, and there is signage indicating you’re in the correct area. (You shouldn’t be driving very far along dirt road…It’s mostly paved.)
  4. Hike to the falls. There was a dirt path with switchbacks that led up to the falls. (There may be another route that also leads to the falls.)

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, mildly steep, but short!)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Kings Canyon Falls in late May 2013

Where in the World is Kings Canyon Falls?

Hunter Creek Falls, Nevada

Hunter Creek Falls in late-May 2013

I’ve always been interested in waterfalls in unexpected places. Nevada just seems like one of those places where you aren’t going to find many waterfalls…and I guess that’s relatively true. And yet there are a few rather scenic falls scattered throughout the state.

I’m guessing Reno’s a pretty dry place. So I was surprised to find out that there was a waterfall right near Reno. After reading some of the reviews, I was initially concerned. It sounded like this was a strenuous 5.6 mile round-trip hike in unforgiving terrain. Well, that really wasn’t the case. I’ve experienced much more difficult hikes, and this probably ranks somewhere in the middle.

If you’re going to attempt this hike, two things REALLY help: sunscreen and water.  It’s bizarre. The first 2/3 of the hike are out in the open sun. The final 1/3 of the hike is like entering a different, forested world. Without sunscreen, I would be in pain tonight, and yet I’m rather content. And having a significant amount of water available made this hike MUCH more enjoyable. To avoid any intense heat, start earlier in the day. It got to about 80 degrees (on May 31), and it was manageable.

At 2.8 miles or so one way, the hike does seem long. There is an up-down-up-down nature to the trail, but it’s never extremely steep. Some of the trail is composed of large stones, which might cause the most difficulty along the whole hike. But at no point are you suddenly climbing steep switchbacks. The elevation gain/loss is spread out over the trail.  

Once you get to the final 1/3, enjoy the shaded, wonderful-scented scenery. It is a truly different feeling. At the end of May, wildflowers litter the whole trail from beginning to end. And at the end of the trail is Hunter Creek Falls! Now, it’s taller than it appears in some photos (about 30 feet or so), though its not huge. It’s still worthwhile in the end!


  1. Caughlin Parkway can be accessed from South McCarran Boulevard at two different locations. I entered at the southern “entrance.”
  2. Continue along Caughlin Parkway to Plateau Road. (If you entered Caughlin from the southern portion, Plateau Road will be on your left.)
  3. Continue along Plateau Road to Woodchuck Circle on your left.
  4. Continue along Woodchuck Circle until you reach the end of the road. (It appears there is a continuation of the road under construction, but that was closed off, so you really only have one option.) There will be a sign for the “Michael D. Thompson Trailhead”, and you will be in the right place.
  5. Put on your sunscreen, grab your water/hat/camera, and start hiking. If in doubt, just stay in sight/listening distance of the creek.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous, by no means the worst ever, just long)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 5.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Hunter Creek Falls?