Lest y'all think I only visit Yosemite, on Tuesday I took a day trip to Sequoia for the purpose of hiking to Tokopah Falls. BTW, from Fresno, there are three national parks within easy day-trip distance: Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. Among our major cities, only Seattle is similarly blessed. Otherwise, there isn't much more for Fresno to brag about.
Tokopah Falls is Sequoia's biggest and best waterfall. It is a 1200-foot-high series of falls and cascades that sits at the upstream end of a glacially carved valley. Tokopah takes the outflow from several small lakes on the plateau above and feeds the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. I have done this hike three times in the past, but always mid- to late-summer when the flow is well past its prime. Since we had a 180%± snow pack this winter, I was determined to see Tokopah flowing full this year.
The trail starts in Lodgepole Campground at an elevation of about 6800 feet. The trail is short (about 1.7 miles each way) and not too steep (only about 600 feet of elevation gain going in; but you get it all back coming out, right?
). The only down side to Tuesday's hike was that about half of the trail is still covered in snow, which made it hard to follow. Fortunately, you can't really get lost in a canyon. Most of the hike follows the creek through the forest, but near the end the trees stop and you enter another world, one of mostly bare granite cliffs and expansive views.
I hope you enjoy this short travelog. The first photo shows a snow-free portion of the trail in the foreground and The Watchtower in the background. The Watchtower looms 2000 feet above the valley floor.