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Tamarack and Cascade Creek Tour

Difficult
 3.5 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Escape the typical crowds on this enjoyable, wildflower-filled traverse of Yosemite's western region


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Map Key

8.0

Miles

12.8

KM

Out and Back

6,015' 1,833 m

High

4,876' 1,486 m

Low

1,418' 432 m

Up

1,418' 432 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Family Friendly The grades on this trail aren't too difficult and there are some great areas along the creek to picnic. You can make this as long or as short of an out and back hike as the kids would like.

Overview

This is the hike for you if you're partial to big views, wildflowers, creek wading, and birding. The other main feature of this trail is solitude, quiet, and more wilderness than you're likely to get in the Valley.

Description

From the Big Oak Flat parking area, switchback steeply up through scrubby terrain with views of Half Dome and El Capitan. This area was burned by wildfires in 1990, and today zillions of little trees have sprouted back up. The fires also opened up the understory to sunlight allowing wildflowers to thrive here. Birds also appreciated the new habitat and moved in, keeping the birdwatchers happy.

Cross several inlets of Wildcat Creek as the trail descends and then climbs back up the more wooded hillside. Enter a small ravine formed by Tamarack Creek. Crossing this water can be impossible in early season, even well into June. Continue to contour around the hillside, ascending a handful of steeper sections before reaching the Old Big Oak Flat dirt road (now closed to vehicles). The small pools here in Cascade Creek are good for wading and make pretty backdrops for picnics. The turnaround point for this trail is the Cascade Bridge where the Tamarack Creek Trail and Coyote Creek arrive from the west.

Once you've seen enough wildflowers and wildlife to tide you over to your next visit, retrace your steps back to the parking area.

Flora & Fauna

Lupine, wild iris, dogwood, azalea.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

Shared By:

Megan W

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 2 votes

#4159

Overall
  3.5 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#610

in California

#4,159

Overall
66 Views Last Month
1,407 Since May 18, 2016
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Photos

This is one of the early views along the trail before you get down into the forest.
Jan 2, 2017 near Yosemit…, CA
The view toward Yosemite Valley. El Capitan peeks above the ridge line, and Bridalveil Falls can be seen on right hand side.
Mar 11, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
Bridalveil Falls can now be seen through the burned trees on a spring day. This hike shows how the area is recovering from a forest fire.
Mar 11, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
Only a few steps into the trail, the scenery is already beautiful.
Jan 2, 2017 near Yosemit…, CA
Looking back toward Big Oak Flat Road back toward El Portal.
Mar 11, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
The Big Meadow Fire started as a prescribed burn in August 2009, but grew out of control.  The damage you see in this shot is the result of that burn.
Mar 11, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA

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Check-Ins

Jul 4, 2019
Reuben Chen
From Old Big Oak Flat Road split (5,859 ft) to camp before El Capitan (7,465ft). End of Day 1. 9.29 miles, Elv change 2,583 ft, 10:50-7:30? — 6h 00m
Jun 28, 2019
Robert Weatherly
May 20, 2017
Shammy S
Miserable hike. Not maintained, downed trees everywhere. Too close to bears, heard one snorting.