“Escape the typical crowds on this enjoyable, wildflower-filled traverse of Yosemite's western region”
— Megan W
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
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.
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.
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.