Crystal Cave Trail, Sequoia National Park
The narrow and winding Crystal Cave Road is only 7 miles long, but has over 100 turns as it twists its way through forest and foothills to the entrance of Crystal Cave. There are a multitude of viewpoints and other things along the road; at one spot, there is an excellent and beautiful view of the Marble Fork Kaweah River.
A one-mile round trip trail leads to Crystal Cave from the parking area. This trail is paved, relatively easy, and a fun hike even if you're not entering the cave. The trail leads through various types of vegetation and views of the Siliman Crest to views of yucca-covered ridges and waterfalls. Of all the features of this trail, the waterfalls are the most prominent. As soon as the trail crosses the creek, it will parallel the creek and pass many waterfalls. None of them were probably over 25-30 feet high, but they were all very pleasant and beautiful. All told, there were probably around five-six falls. There are also some signs along the trail identifying rocks and plants. The trail ends at the entrance to Crystal Cave.
For $11, you can take a tour of Sequoia National Park's Crystal Cave. Buy tickets in the Lodgepole or Foothills VCs. As the tour guides explain, there are over 200 caves littered around the Sierra Nevada. What makes these caes so special however, is that they're made of marble. Touring the cave starts at the Spider Web Gate. From there, you are led to various chambers throughout the cave. However, this cave really isn't that beautiful; I liked Luray Caverns (Virginia) much better. The tour lasts between 45 min- 1 hour, and no tripods or hiking poles are allowed in the cave. If you would rather spend money to tour a cave than to hike in the rest of the park for free, this might be your thing. But otherwise, there's better things to do in the park.
Crystal Cave is 15 miles from the park entrance and about 3 miles down a smaller road off of the General's Highway.
The cave was discovered in 1918 and offers visitors a close up look of cave geology and unique formations. It's th only cave in the N.P. to be opened for tours. Prices start at about $18 for 2 hour tours and tickets can only be purchased at the Lodgepole Campground Visitor Center.
It is a limestone cave and 1 of at least 240 known caves in the park. The temperature is a constant 48 degrees so it's best to take a jacket.