This accessible day hike offers a beautiful reward for modest effort, and it is a great choice for visitors to Sequoia National Park who are traveling with children. It's also a great hike to work in as you explore other areas of the park; the trailhead's location in Lodgepole Campground means it is close to fantastic sights such as the Giant Forest, Crescent Meadow, and Moro Rock. A morning hike to Tokopah Falls is a great way to begin a day of sightseeing in this stunning valley.
This heavily trafficked trail is well maintained throughout, and the 600-foot elevation gain from the trailhead to the falls is never overly steep or challenging. The trail follows the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River upstream as it weaves through the dramatic Tokopah Valley, and the sound of the river is a constant companion. You'll cross a few small streams, including Horse Creek, and these are great opportunities to cool off in hot weather. Pondorosa pines, firs, and cedars thrive in this canyon. And you'll have impressive views of the Watchtower, a 8,973-foot granite monolith that truly does seem to guard the valley and the falls.
Tokopah Falls, found at the head of the valley are actually the tallest in Sequoia National Park, though only the lower portion of the 1,200-foot total drop is visible from the trail. When the flows are high, Topokah Falls creates an impressive display, and the dramatic canyon walls are a perfect setting for the broad white cascade. The scene is definitely more subdued during seasonal low flows or drought conditions, though the scenery remains its own reward.
Note that, because of the convenient location and relatively mild nature of the hike, crowds are common during the peak summer months. Morning tours are a wonderful time to walk the valley, and you may end up getting the falls to yourself for a bit. Alternately, consider a winter visit, when the falls freeze and ice climbing begins.