Tamarack Flat to El Capitan is a 17 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Buena Vista, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate offers a number of activity options.

17.0 miles
3,677 feet
Out & Back





trail running



wild flowers



no dogs

Hike to the summit of El Capitan from Tamarack Flat.

3 days ago

A strenuous hike for a novice. Went with a buddy who's not much of a hiker and he had a rough go at it. Stopping frequently and cramping up towards the top. Bring 3-4 liters of water, a good pair of hiking shoes/boots and hiking poles. Mid-October needed a warm sweater and gloves near the top.

The first 2.5-3 miles was fairly easy, mostly down hill on an asphalt road to Tamarack Creek(?) bridge, the last water source(October). There, the climb begins. About half way up the terrain changes from closed forest to open granite. Stay left and follow the man-made stacked rock markers. The last 2 miles goes back into the trees and flattens out a bit, then opens up again as you reach El Capitan. This is as far as we went. The view across the valley is amazing, but you can't see Half Dome from there. We were told to keep following the trail if you want to see Half Dome, we had gone far enough!

The hike up took 5 hours with frequent stops to catch our breath and question what we had gotten ourselves into! An experienced hiker could do it in 4 hours or less. Well worth the pain when you look over the ledge and grasp just how massive it is! The hike down took 4 hours with frequent stops on the uphill parts towards the end. Should only take 3.5 hours. Round trip was 9.5 hours with a lunch break on top. This was a beautiful hike and is a good test for the average hiker. I would rank it as moderate...beginners beware!

5 months ago

In my opinion this trail should be rated more of a hard trail due to its length and elevation gain. Overall great views all around from forest, to granite clearings, to an amazing view of the valley. Be wary though that after crossing cascade creek there is no water until shorty before getting to El Cap.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Beautiful. Lush riparian forest near Tamarack turning to dry alpine sierra forest closer to el cap.
It's only 4/5 because I consider something like the falls to el cap or half dome to be 5/5. This is worth your time if you can't do those.
When you top out there is still quite a ways to scramble down to the edge of el cap's cliff face and doesn't offer the same totally panoramic view as half dome, although it is incredible in its own right.
I didn't see a single person on the way out from Tamarack and only saw one group of people near Tamarack campground on the way back. Went on a Wednesday.
Hope you've been working that stair master!

Monday, July 17, 2017

3 months ago

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017