Sequoia National Park: Crystal Cave & Tokopah Valley Trail

As I’ve said before, if you live in Southern California, a day trip (or a weekend trip) to Sequoia National Park is a must. Spread out wide across from King’s Canyon National park and conveniently 3 ½ to 4 hours from Los Angeles is Sequoia, featuring miles of hiking trails, streams, cascades, wild life, caves, and the most impressive trees you will ever see.

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When you arrive, plan to drive roughly 18 miles from the entrance (where you pay your drive-on fee of $30) to make it to the Giant Forest. Even if you’ve already visited the Giant Forest, most of the other must-sees in the park are in that area, as well. For instance, you can’t miss out on Crystal Cave or the Tokopah Valley trail to Tokopah Falls. (I mention this because you should ensure you have enough gas and allow enough time to make it up deep into the park.)

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Crystal Cave

When planning a tour of Crystal Cave at Sequoia National Park, you need to do a little pre-planning. You must have a ticket for the tour, and the spaces go fast. If you don’t book a couple of days before, you probably won’t get into the tour. So, purchase your ticket online in advance. The link to purchase the very affordable tickets is on Sequoia’s website. They do sell tickets the same day in the visitor centers, but they don’t at the cave location, itself.

When you get there, they ask that you not bring in any items that have been in a cave in the last decade, as they don’t wish to spread White-Nose Syndrome to the bats. This may alarm people who have a phobia of bats, but don’t worry. You will not be seeing any bats, I assure you. They like to stay far away from the trail, as humans and their noises frighten and bother the sleeping bats. So come without items that have been in other caves with you.

The Crystal Cave Tour

The hike down to the cave entrance is relatively easy. It’s a pretty steep decline, but it’s only a half-mile trail, so there’s no strenuous hiking. Upon arriving at the gates of the cave, you meet your tour guide who slowly opens the spider-web-shaped gate for you to head into the cave entrance.

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Though these caves are much smaller than the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa that I visited in June, they were still just as breathtakingly beautiful. There is running water falling all around you in the narrow passages of Crystal Cave. As you enter the cave formation, a stream of water cascades to your left. You follow a path past the water that takes you further up into the cave. It’s a pretty steep path up, but it’s worth it to see the beautiful caverns and still-forming stalactites and stalagmites. Our tour guide joked that you can easily remember the difference between these two formations as “stalactites cling tight to the ceiling and stalagmites are things you might trip over.”
We asked him questions about the history of the cave, and it seemed to be visited by Native Americans in the past as bones of two Natives were found a while back.

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The trail loops out of the cave, and the hike back up, though a little more strenuous up-hill, is worth it as you tread past a beautiful waterfall. It’s definitely worth it to see Crystal Cave during one of your visits to Sequoia.

Tokopah Valley Trail at Sequoia National Park

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The other must-see trail at Sequoia is the Tokopah Valley Trail to Tokopah falls. This path is relatively easy, as there is only a very slight incline as you head up to the falls. Coming back is the easiest trail walk I’ve done. On your way to the falls, you will walk alongside an unbelievably clear and gorgeous river. You’ll see people fishing, camping next to the river, and just enjoying a swim. If you have a lot of time, I’d recommend a swim at the shallow end of the river near the camp. (Be advised of posted signs, as there are times swimming in the water is unsafe.)

As you go further towards the falls, you will see meadows of bright yellow flowers, peaks of very massive mountains nearby, and rocks standing in some pretty beautiful formations.

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You can tell you are getting close to the falls as you begin to climb on rocks. The terrain right up to the falls becomes a rock trail. I’ve never seen a waterfall over such a jagged, rocky location before, and it was an absolutely glorious sight to see. Seeing this waterfall makes your entire day better. This is actually my favorite hiking trail that I’ve ever done. It’s also the perfect spot for a picnic.

That being said, I highly recommend you check out this trail when you visit Sequoia National Park.

Malorie Mackey

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer. Malorie grew up in Richmond, Virginia where she loved sports, the outdoors, animals, and all forms of art. She took to acting at a young age, so it was no surprise when she decided to go to college for theatre. While in college, Malorie studied body movement with the DAH Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, voice in Herefordshire, England with Frankie Armstrong, and the business of theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Malorie moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles after receiving her BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon arriving in LA, Malorie participated in the Miss California USA 2011 Pageant where she won the “Friend’s Choice” Award (by popular vote) and received a beautiful award for it. While living on the West Coast, Malorie accumulated over 40 acting credits working on a variety of television shows, web series, and indie films, such as the sci-fi movie “Dracano,” the Biography Channel show “My Haunted House,” the tv pilot “Model Citizen” with Angie Everhart, and the award-winning indie film “Amelia 2.0.” Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show: “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book. In 2022, Malorie was thrilled to become a member of the Explorer’s Club through her work on scientific travel. Her experiences volunteering on archaeological and anthropological expeditions as well as with animal conservation allowed her entry into the exclusive club. Since then, Malorie has focused more on scientific travel. Malorie’s show “Weird World Adventures” releases on Amazon Prime Video in the Spring of 2024! Stay tuned as Malorie brings the strangest wonders of the world to you!

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