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Tokopah Falls

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park Links:

May 31st, 1999

3.4 miles
560 vertical feet
Total Time: 2:18

Rating: 7/10

Directions:   View Driving Map


Jean and I parked near the Walter Fry Nature Center and walked across the bridge to start our hike on the Tokopah Falls trail.

The trail meanders through the forest next to the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. As usual, the start of the trail was relatively crowded. We passed families with kids, people wearing sandals, etc. It thinned out the further we went.

Jean enjoying the sight of the Kaweah River

We'd seen lots of mushrooms the previous day, but few were to be found on this trail. The forest is sparser, making conditions hard for a mushroom, I suppose. The forest here is also composed differently. There were a few scattered sequoias, but it's mostly other conifers.

We scrambled next to granite rocks and along forest floor next to the Kaweah, which was not nearly as loud as the South Fork of the Kings River on the Mist Falls hike. Eventually we emerged from the forest and had our first view of the 1200-foot Tokopah Falls.

Marmot posing for the camera

We scrambled up the granite rocks to the base of the falls, where we were greeted by a hungry marmot which readily posed for some pictures. There were a fair number of picnickers here, and where there's a picnic in the high Sierra, there's a marmot -- the largest member of the squirrel family.

Jean sitting in front of the falls

The falls lie at the closed end of a U-shaped valley. Imagine a huge granite plateau being carved by a giant thumb (print down). The falls were at the tip of the thumb. There was nowhere else for us to go, so we sat down and enjoyed the view. On the southern wall lies the "Watchtower," a 1600 foot tall cliff. To the west lies the forest. There's a very discernible treeline. It's as if there was an army of marching trees which suddenly came to a halt for fear of falling over a cliff.

The Watchtower

The trees stop their advance as if hitting an imaginary wall

The falls from further back along the trail

After enjoying our break we returned the way we came. Along the way, we startled a large marmot. This one, as opposed to its more human-friendly cousin near the falls, ran away quickly and disappeared. Soon we, too, disappeared, as we were back at our cars and heading out of the park all too soon.

Return to Sequoia/Kings Canyon trip report.


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