Marble Falls

Sequoia National Park / Generals Highway, California, USA

About Marble Falls


Hiking Distance: 7.4 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 4-5 hours

Date first visited: 2005-05-28
Date last visited: 2005-05-28

Waterfall Latitude: 36.55311
Waterfall Longitude: -118.79222

Find Nearby Accommodation



Booking.com

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg

Marble Falls actually consists of several cascades both upstream and downstream from the main falls itself.

I suspect the waterfall got its name because it seemed to be in the presence of rocks that appear to be made of marble, which was something that we found to be a rather unique feature concerning waterfalls that we’ve seen.

Marble_Falls_029_05282005 - Marble Falls in high flow
Marble Falls in high flow

In order to access the main part of this waterfall (shown in the photo at the top of this page), we had to partake in a tiring and sun-exposed hike.

According to the signs here, it appeared that the hike was on the order of 7.4-mile round trip with 1,500ft elevation gain (though Ann Marie Brown has it at 7 miles).

Given the relatively low elevation of this hike, I recalled that it was very hot during the Memorial Day weekend that we did it back in May 2005.

So I could only imagine just how much of scorcher it would be in the Summer.

Marble_Falls_021_05282005 - Contextual view of some cascades on the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River Falls in high flow during our Memorial Day 2005 visit
Contextual view of some cascades on the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River Falls in high flow during our Memorial Day 2005 visit

Yet at the same time, it might be a good early-season waterfall in the Winter when the rest of Sequoia National Park would be under snow.

So with that said, we were wise to get an early start so we could at least take advantage of the morning shadows from the low angle profile of the sun.

Then, when we would be done with most of the uphill climbing, the remainder of the hike (which would surely be under the hot sun) would at least be more bearable.

Finally, the downhill return hike would at least be not as much of a physically taxing (and potentially dangerous) exercise.

Hiking to Marble Falls

Marble_Falls_005_05282005 - Mom and Dad walking along the Marble Fork Kaweah River and the canal
Mom and Dad walking along the Marble Fork Kaweah River and the canal

The trail began at the Potwisha Campground (see directions below) next to campsite #16.

It started off by following what looked to be a little canal (with some contraptions possibly for small scale hydroelectricity) before veering up the hill and starting to ascend up some switchbacks.

This would be the start of what felt like a non-stop uphill hike.

The trail up was a bit narrow and overgrown in many parts during our visit in 2005.

Marble_Falls_009_05282005 - Mom traversing through a narrow and somewhat overgrown stretch of the Marble Falls Trail flanked by wildflowers during our Memorial Day 2005 hike
Mom traversing through a narrow and somewhat overgrown stretch of the Marble Falls Trail flanked by wildflowers during our Memorial Day 2005 hike

So the presence of ticks using the overgrown foliage as launching points for warm bodies to suck blood from was definitely something to watch out for.

I happened to get bit by one later on in the trip (see trip report) and I wasn’t sure if it came from this trail or not.

Throughout the hike, the canyon was always to our left dropping off steeply and sometimes revealing the raging Marble Fork Kaweah River though it would usually remain visibly concealed amongst the thick foliage blanketing the canyon.

Yet even when the river was not always visible from the trail, it always seemed to be within earshot.

Marble_Falls_015_05282005 - Mom continuing the climb as we go higher up the Marble Fork Canyon though the morning shadows were waning
Mom continuing the climb as we go higher up the Marble Fork Canyon though the morning shadows were waning

Eventually after about 90-120 minutes or so on the relentlessly uphill hike, we’d eventually reach the apex of the elevation gain.

That was when we started to see in the distance where the river dropped steeply revealing powerful cascades that we suspected were the Marble Falls themselves.

From here, the trail descended and got closer to those falls, and by the time we got to a part where we were next to the Marble Fork Kaweah River, we were only able to see bits and pieces of the rushing river.

The trail ended next to a roughly 30-40ft rushing waterfall (though it might possibly be shorter than that) where we showed up just in time to see rainbows in its mist.

Marble_Falls_037_05282005 - Dad and Mom hiking by bits of the rushing Marble Falls on the Marble Fork Kaweah River
Dad and Mom hiking by bits of the rushing Marble Falls on the Marble Fork Kaweah River

Further progress to see additional cascades was not possible given the state of the river, though I have heard that under less turbulent conditions, people have been able to continue along the river.

Then again, people have died here attempting to proceed further perhaps underestimating the underlying danger of the slick and turbulent conditions when the river would run too high.

So I’d imagine that continuing on would only be possible when the water levels would be low in late Summer.

Nevertheless, I have to believe you’d still want to watch out for the slippery granite and marble terrain as well as the possibility of flash floods from mountain thunderstorms.

Marble_Falls_045_05282005 - Looking down over the brink of Marble Falls, where that white rock on the lower left of this photo appeared to be one such slab of the namesake marble
Looking down over the brink of Marble Falls, where that white rock on the lower left of this photo appeared to be one such slab of the namesake marble

Indeed, it was a lot of work just to get to this point of the hike, but the flip side was that it was all downhill on the way back to the trailhead.

Furthermore, we pretty much had this entire trail to ourselves (I recalled seeing one or two other couples).

To say that we had a waterfall trail almost completely to ourselves on a Memorial Day weekend was no small feat to say the least!

Authorities

Marble Falls is in Sequoia National Park near Visalia in Fresno County, California. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about this area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Marble_Falls_051_05282005 - The Marble Falls Trailhead, which started next to campsite #16 in the Potwisha Campground during our Memorial Day 2005 hike
Marble_Falls_003_05282005 - Mom on the wide trail alongside the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River early on in our hike to the Marble Falls on Memorial Day 2005
Marble_Falls_007_05282005 - Signed turnoff beginning the official trail to Marble Falls. Note the signage was what made me believe that we had to hike 7.4 miles, but if we counted the walk to get to this point, maybe it should have been about 7.6 miles round-trip!
Marble_Falls_010_05282005 - Dad and Mom ascending higher than the morning shadows so the Marble Falls hike was really heating up during our visit on Memorial Day 2005
Marble_Falls_011_05282005 - Dad and Mom taking advantage of the return of the morning shadow during the climb up to Marble Falls on Memorial Day 2005
Marble_Falls_013_05282005 - Lots of wildflowers (as well as tick-infested overgrowth) flanking the narrow trail
Marble_Falls_016_05282005 - Contextual view of part of Marble Falls near the trail apex on our Memorial Day 2005 visit
Marble_Falls_017_05282005 - Focused look at some of the series of cascades comprising the intermediate drops of Marble Falls on the Marble Fork Kaweah River during our visit on Memorial Day 2005
Marble_Falls_022_05282005 - Looking down at another section of the cascades downstream from the main drop of Marble Falls during our Memorial Day 2005 visit
Marble_Falls_026_05282005 - Contextual view of part of Marble Falls further along the trail during our Memorial Day 2005 visit
Marble_Falls_036_05282005 - Finally making it to the Marble Falls with morning rainbow. Note some of the marble rocks around the lower parts of this photo blending in the whitewater. This was what gave this waterfall its name, I'd imagine
Marble_Falls_039_05282005 - Late morning rainbow at Marble Falls as we experimented around with trying to photograph it during our Memorial Day 2005 visit
Marble_Falls_042_05282005 - Looking over the brink of Marble Falls as the Marble Fork Kaweah River was rushing madly during our Memorial Day 2005 visit
Marble_Falls_050_05282005 - Mom looking on towards the mouth of the Marble Fork Kawweah River Canyon as we headed back to the Potwisha Campground to conclude our hot Memorial Day 2005 hike

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


The Potwisha Campground (where the Marble Falls Trailhead was) sat about an hour drive (18 miles) south of the Lodgepole Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park along the twisty Generals Highway.

Going in the other direction, the Potwisha Campground was roughly 30 minutes drive (10 miles) northeast of Three Rivers.

Coming from Lodgepole, we were able to access the campground just one stop southwest of Hospital Rock.

Heading in the other direction, it was just under 4 miles east of the Ash Mountain Entrance Station at the southern end of Sequoia National Park closer to Three Rivers.

Marble_Falls_001_05282005 - The spillover parking area right across from the Potwisha Campground. We parked here and then walked back into the campground to start the hike up to the Marble Falls
The spillover parking area right across from the Potwisha Campground. We parked here and then walked back into the campground to start the hike up to the Marble Falls

Even though the Potwisha Campground turnoff will be to our left as we headed uphill away from Three Rivers, we didn’t find any day use parking.

We also didn’t secure a campground spot here.

Therefore, we drove across the Generals Highway from the Potwisha Campground turnoff, and spotted some spillover parking that we took advantage of before beginning our hike.

For context, Three Rivers was about 35 miles (40 minutes drive) east of the Hwy 99 and Hwy 198 junction near Visalia and Tulare. Lodgepole was about 79 miles (nearly 2 hours drive) east of Fresno along a combination of Hwy 180 and Hwy 198. Los Angeles was about 188 miles (3 hours drive) from Tulare/Visalia and 219 miles (3.5 hours drive) from Fresno.

Related Top 10 Lists

No Posts Found

Tagged with: potwisha, hospital rock, sequoia, generals, moro rock, fresno, three rivers, visalia, tulare, lodgepole, sierra, california, waterfall, kaweah



Visitor Comments:

Great Hike (Marble Falls) November 15, 2010 11:34 pm by TWD - I went with a group of young boy scouts on this hike in mid-November. It was a cool dry day, so the hike was much easier than expected. Not as steep as anticipated either. But, 3.9 miles each way left me sore for the next couple of days. The river was much lower than shown… ...Read More

Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls