Tamarack Flat to El Capitan is a 17 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and backpacking.

Length17.0 miElevation gain3,677 ftRoute typeOut & back
BackpackingCampingHikingRunningForestViewswild-flowersWildlifeRockyFeeNo dogs
Description
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Yosemite National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are $35 per vehicle or $30 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is $20 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $70. Yosemite is open with some services limited due to COVID-19. Reservations are required to drive into Yosemite. Some services and facilities are limited, and shuttles are not operating. See the park website for more info: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/covid19.htm Hike to the summit of El Capitan from Tamarack Flat.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (31)
Photos (114)
Recordings (28)
Completed (60)
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Meline Joaris
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 26, 2020
Backpacking

I hate uphills with a passion. But I managed to get from Tioga Rd all the way to the top of El Capitan in a day. Don’t get me wrong, it was a gruelling ascend (and descend the next day), especially carrying all the water because the creeks at the top were dry. The meadow from Tioga rd to Tamarack creek campsite was pretty and a good way to start. Then on to cascade creek for a food and water refill stop - the water tasted amazing! The tear-inducing uphill is relentless but doable if you go slow and put one foot in front of the other. The breathtaking view (literally and then figuratively the next day from the Creek fire smoke) and sunset at the top over El Cap was all worth it. The way down is strenuous and harder on the knees than I’d expected. We made a last overnight stop by cascade creek which was both practical and beautiful before heading back the gentle uphill to our car on Tioga Rd the next day. Note: our water filtration broke on the first day so we just had to drink the flowing fresh water from cascade creek - we’re alive and without tummy troubles 2 days later (though obviously not recommended).

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sarah colesanti
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 30, 2020
Backpacking

Due to Covid and like the review a month before I went said, tamarack flat camp is closed to the public so you have to park the car at the turn out on tioga rd and hike through the meadow and burned area 2.5 miles to tamarack flat. Then it was more like 3.5 to cascade creek. Next day hiked to el cap...the elevation climb was more than moderate and the only water that could be obtained was at Ribbon Creek about a mile before el cap. I carried 2 gallons up that rock to camp at summit. Friggin amazing and well worth the extra weight. That day turned into 7.4 not the 5.5 that little old sign said haha I continued on to Yosemite creek as that was the only other water source to camp. Following day trekked 12 miles back over el cap to cascade creek. This was the best camping spot to take a load off and relax in the pools of water. Back to the car 6 miles and that marked the best backpacking trip in California so far. I didn’t use poles but brought them. I was carrying almost 39lbs on my back and still this trail never disappointed. The little mosquitos ate my friend up but left me alone (I use coconut oil and rosemary on my face so maybe that had something to do with it). In conclusion, get to the top of el cap, it is friggin amazing!

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Liz Chenok
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 7, 2020
BackpackingBugsGreat!

ROAD CLOSURE: July 7, 2020, the road from Tioga to Tamarack Flat is closed due to COVID-19. Instead, we drove about 5 minutes down Tioga (in the direction of Tuolomne Meadows) and hiked down along Tamarack Creek to Tamarack Flat, an extra 2.5 miles. Tamarack Creek is not labeled but is a pullout on the right side of the road with bear boxes. There are a few big rocks marking the pullout and the trail begins on the right side of the pullout. You will hike down into a meadow and along a gorgeous creek before ending at Tamarack Flat. The hike is definitely more strenuous than moderate, as many of the reviews say, but is SO beautiful! We backpacked from Tioga Road (Tamarack Creek) and slept as Cascade Creek (5 mi in). The next day, we did El Cap as a day hike from Cascade Creek (12 miles). I would highly recommend it! Beautiful, with some aggressive uphills, but overall do-able. I would recommend hiking poles. Bring lots of water, as some areas are exposed and hot in the summer. The view took my breath away - I cried! Definitely bring bug spray - the mosquitoes were rampant.

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Liza Kesler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 5, 2019
HikingRocky

Fantastic trail I had planned on doing for awhile, there were no disappointments. GPS had us at 18.5miles but the elevation gain was 3,500 (slightly less than the reported amount) It was never exceptionally steep or difficult, just long. We did encounter a place to filter maybe .75-1mile from the top. The creek definitely seemed like it could run dry depending on the time of year or drought situation. We didn't expect to encounter it and had packed more water than we ended up needing. I would say 75% of it is shaded or with reprieve near by but the exposed sections definitely get toasty even on cool days. Bring a hat and sun glasses. Hardest part by far was the last 2 miles, partly being up hill and mostly being on a hard asphalt old road. My joints hadn't really started aching until I encountered this area. We did encounter 4 bears. All within the first 2 miles, right at sunrise. None were aggressive and we kept our distance until they scampered off.

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Gretchen Cremo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 1, 2019
Hiking

Loved this hike! It’s a tough one but worth every step. Meandering up and down through the forest and across talus slope, crossing a few small streams. Mostly dry this time of year. Very easy to follow this trail, it’s well marked. Take plenty of water, and warm clothing. It was 27 degrees at the trail head this morning at sunrise. Breezy throughout the day but especially on El Cap. I found trekking poles most helpful. Encountered a small bear cub within the first mile ❤️, spotted me and scampered away. Happy trails!

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Ivy Contreras
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 15, 2019
HikingBugsOff trailRocky

While the technically hiking aspects of this hike might be moderate, be ready to sweat and hurt for 10-11 hours.

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Ryan Poling
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 7, 2019
Hiking

This is a truly challenging, but extremely rewarding trail. The first 2.5 miles is fairly simple downhill on a semi paved forest road to a small footbridge over Tamarack Creek. After that, is about 6 miles of steady and sometimes aggressive elevation gain. There are not a ton of switchbacks, but more direct uphill sections, followed by longer exposed sections of granite crossings. There is a nice interlude in a meadow / sparse forested area before continuing uphill to the opening to the valley. While this is one of the more difficult hikes I have done in Yosemite, it is not quite the same as the entire Yosemite Falls Trail. This is 8.5 miles of strenuous ups and downs, but not the 3.2 miles of switchbacks for the falls. Still, this trail is not for the faint of heart.

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Theresa Morrisey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 28, 2019
Hiking

this was extremely tough at mile 4 on way up....I was not in my best physical shape and am a 64 y/o Gramma....to encourage others. I took plenty of fluids and we got a little off track a couple of times. There was not much water to use, but we had plenty. This is a great accomplishment, saw 8 people in the course of almost 9 hours. Do not want to do this hike again. Gnats were a nuisance in one area. You can never beat a hike in YNP...never. Happy 20th to us... now it's your turn!!!

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Jason G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 2, 2019
Hiking

Moderate?!?!?! Not! I am an experienced hiker with many “Hard” trails under my belt. This was as strenuous as Upper Yo Falls AND Eagle. Furthermore, the round trip distance is closer to 19 miles. This trail is beautiful and serene. There is very little traffic. Getting to the top of El Cap is an accomplishment. Bring at least 3l of water or a purifier for the 4 streams along the way. This is a significant workout w plenty of elevation(especially in the middle).

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Brittany Robinson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 14, 2019
BugsMuddyNo shadeRocky

did this hike 7/13/19 we started just around 730am, my garmin clocked 18 miles and 3800 feet climbing. we had to climb over a few trees or make our way around, nothing too rough. there is one long up hill stretch around mile 4-6 which is a butt kicker but with a few breaks in the shade all is good! it did get super hot pretty quickly and on the way back it was pretty hot. there are about 5 water points for refills if you have a filter system so that's awesome! don't forget the bug spray!! the views at the top is just magical! I highly recommend this hike it was great!! don't forget to stretch at the end your calves will thank you haha!

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hankwhitley .
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 20, 2018

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!

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jake fletch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 26, 2018
Hiking

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.

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Zachary Tyler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 27, 2017
Hiking

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!

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Mary Clark
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 17, 2017
Backpacking
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Luke Mundy
Gray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 16, 2020
Running
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Randi Ginsberg Ball
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 12, 2020
Hiking
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Dustin Speraw
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 19, 2019
Hiking
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Elena Santos
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 12, 2019
Hiking
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Gil O'Neil
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 6, 2019
Hiking
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Gil O'Neil
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 5, 2019
Hiking
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Brad Steinbach
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 28, 2019
Hiking
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PatriceJustin La Vigne
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 23, 2019
Hiking
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Matthew Haddad
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 31, 2019
Hiking
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Jon Schiavone
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2019
Hiking
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