From the Kings Creek Trail
trailhead along the park road, Bench Lake Trail is found at the Kings Creek Trail
1.3 mile mark, just before reaching Kings Creek Falls
. To run Bench Lake Trail, go right/south off of Kings Creek Trail
, descend to Kings Creek and cross it on a good bridge.
After crossing Kings Creek, Bench Lake Trail is flat as it goes through a short stretch of forest to come to an open rocky area at the base of impressive cliffs that rise to the right of the trail. To the left of the trail is the forest. No doubt all these rocks slid down from the cliffs.
At the 0.4 mile mark, Bench Lake Trail leaves the cliffs behind and is again in fir forest. Almost immediately little Bench Lake appears ahead through the trees. The trail arrives at the lake and skirts its shoreline before starting a gradual descent as it leaves the lake behind. Here on this descent are the first views far into the distance to the east and southeast. The terrain is more open here - dotted with pines and covered with a low growing manzanita ground cover. Bench Lake - Sifford Lakes Trail
is passed at the 1.0 mile mark as Bench Lake Trail levels off temporarily.
At the 1.3 mile mark the gradual descent picks up again as Bench Lake Trail now follows the crest of Flatiron Ridge for its last 1.3 miles down to the PCT. Still in open terrain, the south side (to the right of the trail) of Flatiron Ridge drops off steeply to Warner Valley below. Looking down the valley, distant views of Juniper Lake and mountains can be seen. Closer by, Sifford Mountain, 7,408 ft., is seen across the valley. As the trail continues to drop, it re-enters the fir forest, thus hiding the views.
After 2.6 miles Bench Lake Trail ends at the PCT deep in the Lassen Volcanic National Park backcountry.
Sections of fir forest with thin ground cover, and open sections dotted with firs. Much of the ground cover is a very pretty bright green low growing type of manzanita. Wildflowers.