Crystal Cave Trail is a 0.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sequoia National Park, CA that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from May until November.
Crystal cave is located off the general highway in Sequoia National Park, between the Ash mountain entrance and The Giant forest. Tickets must be purchased in advance either at the Foothill visitor center or the Lodgepole visitor center. $18 entrance fee per person.
We blindly drove to this site because it looked cool and was something others had mentioned we should see when visiting Sequoia National Park. Was skeptical and irritated that we had to pay $18/person to view this. The road that takes you there and splits from the Generals Highway is pretty old. It is paved, but is extremely bumpy. Once we got there, we were told that it was we should have purchased tickets beforehand. Yep, they were right, we should have. Though we got lucky and only had to wait about 45 minutes to get placed in one of the 50 person groups that tour every 30 minutes, because somebody cancelled or they were late. If you are late on arrival, they try to get you into the next 30 minute tour. The walkway down to the cave is paved and has some steps. There is a nice waterfall area they stage you at, while a previous group tour finishes up. Great opportunity for picture taking with the falls area. Then the real awesomeness begins. They have a huge iron webbed gate that swivels open, with a big metal spider for a doorknob. Groups of 50 enter the cave. They warn you not to use flash on your cameras, which initially had me worried about pictures. Don't worry. Because over a period of 2 years, they added lighting throughout the cave tour. When you enter the cave, it feels like you're entering another planet. In parts there are running streams beneath you, stalactites hang from different parts of the cave ceilings. In spots it's a tight fit, though my 40 year old 5'11" 225 lb frame didn't have any trouble traversing between. They caution you not to touch anything, except in one area where they tell you that you can sit on a little 18"-24" high rock wall. There they tell you some stories and turn out the lights...where you really can tell just how pitch black things are there. The tour runs between 30-60 minutes, but is well worth it, in my opinion. The path back up will get your heart and blood pumping, but it's not that far. It's not so much a hike, but more a tourist spot. Well worth it. I know people talk about Big Tree Trail and the Sherman Tree and in their own right...those are spectacular sights to see. But for me...this was the crown jewel of Sequoia National park. Note that temperatures in the cave are at least 15 degrees cooler than temperatures outside. We were there Sunday 9-4-16 around 11:30am and temperatures were about 60 degrees in the parking lot. It dipped into the high 40's inside the cave and at times we could see our breath if we exhaled intentionally. I would not miss this, but be sure to get your online reservation in advance and show up 15 minutes early...because otherwise you'll be bumped to the next tour and if all 50 people show up on time for that tour...you'll be waiting an additional 30 minutes and can only hope to catch the next one then.
There are some tight spots in the cave and a steep climb up and down but it's really worth it. There is some interesting history to the cave. Best time to go is earlier in the day smaller crowds.
Great family hike and the cave is amazing. Going to the cave is all down hill coming back up was a challenge.
So awesome in those caves!! Took the whole family & can't wait to go back!!!
This is a short walk, which leads to the crystal cave. There is a small creek-fall next to it.
It is relatively inclined, but it is certainly an easier trail than most.
Tickets are available at foothill, lodgepole and in some cases if free spots are available at the cave entrance as well (be nice to the person at the entrance).
This is an easy hike for all ages, I had a 2.5 year old ;toddler tips:
* They are not really cognizant of cave culture.
* They might not be delighted by the lack of light.
* They do imagine, specific parts of the cave as formations of different animals, e.g., turtles, cows...etc.
* If they are out of diapers, ensure they have done their share of potty before. Getting out of the cave in between the tour, for that reason can be a relatively painful process.
I rate as a 3 star when comparing it with camping, trees trails, and other activities possible at the Sequoia national park.
The trail was ok. Some pretty falls at the end. The main purpose was to get to the cave though.
Make sure u get up early to buy tickets at lodgepole ranger station if u want to go in the cave. They sell out quick.
To my understanding, this is 1 of only 2 caves viewable in these parks. A must see for all ages.
I absolutely recommend this! It is gorgeous and really fun!
3 star for exploring a cave (with a guide)
1 star for beautiful small hike down.
1 star for waterfall
We bought the ticket for the cave at the foothill center upon arriving at the park. From there, it takes about 1 hour drive to get to the cave parking lot.
There is a 20 walk down towards the cave. The view is absolutely amazing. Once you get the bottom of the canyon there is an amazing waterfall and the cave's entrance is just next to it.
We had a guided tour that lasted roughly 30min. Walked around the cave and saw some amazing stalactite and stalagmite formation. There are lights all around the cave but I highly recommend you to bring your flashlight. The guide showed us what it felt like to be in total darkness for a few seconds.
It was pretty fun to visit a cave. I had never done such a thing and would recommend it if you are visiting the park during the right season; because the cave closes during the winter...