Tokopah Falls Trail Sequoia National Park Hike

Measuring 1,200 feet long, Tokopah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park. Unlike the famous free-falling waterfalls in that other national park to the north, Tokopah Falls features a long series of steep picturesque cascades. The 4.2-mile round trip hike to the waterfall is fairly gradual, gaining 630 feet up a trail that should be enjoyable for hikers of all abilities. To make things simple, there are no junctions to worry about along the way to the waterfall where the trail dead ends.

Start near Lodgepole Visitor Center and General Store, driving (or walking) a short distance up Lodgepole Road to a trailhead parking area within Lodgepole Campground. Proceed from there on foot, following the road into the campground, with the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River on your left. Bear left at a split and cross a bridge over the river. On the other side, turn right up the start of Tokopah Falls Trail.

The trail to Tokopah Falls heads east along the north bank of the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. The single track wanders beneath tall pines and passes several small forest meadows. After a few creek crossings and two bridges, exit the forest and gain the first clear view of the waterfall. To the south, an impressive peak named the Watchtower rises 1,600 feet above Tokopah Valley, making the landscape even more dramatic.

Tokopah Waterfall Watchtower Mountain
Two strands of Tokopah Falls beneath the Watchtower

Tokopah is long and elegant. To get to it, cross a rocky moraine over the last half mile of the U-shaped canyon. The trail remains gradual and passable as it maneuvers between large boulders, ending at the base of the impressive falls. Take pictures, take a break, and return the way you came.

Tokopah Falls
The bottom of Tokopah Falls

The Marble Fork sports another waterfall farther down the mountain from Tokopah. The 8-mile round trip hike to the thunderous Marble Falls shows how this branch of the river got its name.

Sequoia National Park has an entrance fee, but no permit is required to hike to Tokopah Falls. Dogs and mountain bikes are prohibited. The trail to the waterfall is best during the spring snow melt, so get out and enjoy!

To get to the trailhead: Take Generals Highway to the turnoff for the Lodgepole Visitor Center (4.5 miles north of the Giant Forest Museum) and drive east toward Lodgepole Campground. Park in the large lot near the nature center and bathrooms and cross a bridge to the north side of the river where the trail begins.

Trailhead address: Lodgepole Road, Sequoia National Park, CA 93262
Trailhead coordinates: 36.604883, -118.724921 (36° 36′ 17.57″N 118° 43′ 29.71″W)

 

Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.
Trail Map

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Photos

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These photos were taken in April of 2009. Click to enlarge.
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Camping
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Tagged with · Creeks · National Parks · Waterfalls
Distance: 4.2 miles · Elevation change: 630 feet

16 Comments on Tokopah Falls in Sequoia National Park

  1. E says:

    Hello, we are going to sequioa for a few day and taking my kids. Will this trail be good for a 5 year old?

  2. Rosie says:

    Thanks for posting this great description! We will have a baby in a stroller designed for hiking. Do you think we’ll be able to make it to the falls, or is there a bit of scrambling over rocks toward the end?

    • hikespeak says:

      Hi Rosie,

      Your stroller should we great for most of the trails in the Giant Forest. The end of this trail does require you to cross a bunch of boulders. You should be able to do 90% of the trail with ease. The waterfall is looking great right now. Enjoy the hike!

  3. troy says:

    Coming out to yosemite and sequoia in a few weeks. Have the hikes mapped out for yosemite but looking for some good hikes in sequoia and kings. Staying at the john muir lodge 2 nights . What are the best hikes/ things to do to get a feel for the 2 parks? thanks

  4. dennis93277 says:

    I had anticipated taking the trip to Tokopah Falls since last winter, but not until the end of August 2013 did I have the time. I enjoy hiking near water and experiencing the beauty and power of waterfalls and was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately there was no water in the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River that you follow to get to the falls or over the falls themselves. I’m not certain if this is common place this time of year, or just an aberration caused by the drought we are having in California. The lack of water only brings your attention to the grandeur of Tokopah Valley, which was created by glaciers cutting and shaping the granite formations that become the sides of the valley. The trail is very well traveled and maintained. There are cement and rock steps over the granite to help in your 500 foot climb up the trail, and wooden bridges are in place to help you cross the many forks of Horse Creek. There is a couple to meadows along the way and a bear with cub were spotted along with a small heard of deer. Unfortunately they slipped into the concealment before pictures could be taken. This type of activity is easier documented earlier in the day. This is a very active bear area because of the Lodgepole camp grounds and they are use to humans and are non aggressive. Even though we share the same trail, it is not wise to get too close or feed them, they are wild. The goose berries were getting ripe and there were patches all along the trail. The trail has been shaded by furs and lodgepole pines up to Horse Creek, but soon it opens up into the beauty that is Tokopah Falls. When it looks as though the trail is about to end because of the rock formations, you will make out the trail continues between, under, and over the boulders so we can pass through getting closer to the base of the falls. To the south, your right as you are facing the falls, you we see and be in awe of the Watchtower. It is a granite rock formation that was too hard for the glacier to break down. As you journey on the trail, the appearance of the Watchtower changes. The views of the Watchtower are worth the hike themselves, and are nothing short of magnificent. Return to Lodgepole camp ground along the same trail. For us more seasoned adventurers, the man made steps and the rock steps can take a toll on the knees. Mine were a might sore after the hike in Tokopah Valley.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Is the hike to Tokopah Falls in Sequoiah worth it or is it too dry because of the drought? (May 3,2014)

  6. Jomyel says:

    Did this hike today. It was beautiful!

  7. […] campsites, a general store with showers and lots of trailheads and picnic areas. We hiked to Tokopah Valley Falls, a 1.7-mile hike along a river with cliffside views of the mountains and forests, which ends in a […]

  8. Lynnette M Smick says:

    I am headed to the Sequoias next weekend – Hiking 4/01-4/02 – Will this be open?

  9. Tricia Getman says:

    We hiked to Tokopah Falls 3/25/16 There as still snow on the ground but that made the trail easy to follow. Took about 1 1/2 hrs to reach the falls but worth it. The weather was good but I would recommend long sleeve shirt or sweat shirt that you can take off if needed. Also a good pair of comfortable shoes and bottle of water. This was an easy trail but you will get winded at times. Oh and most important don’t forget you camera.

  10. Steph says:

    Is the waterfall always running or does it dry up in the summer? We are hoping to go sometime in July 2016.

  11. Did this trail on April 1. Still large drifts throughout. They block what looks like an otherwise easy trail. Bridges drifted over leaving a small ledge to get across. Lots of crusted over spots with holes underneath. Spent lots of time up to my knees in snow. Interesting hike and memorable but if you want an easy hike or have little kids I would wait until later in the spring. Our 11 year old son did just fine.

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