This is an absolutely stunning hike, following Royal Creek up to the heavenly Royal Basin. Since this hike begins in the Olympic National Forest, and not the park, the crowds on this trail are greatly diminished. It is a challenging hike, but it’s well worth the work.
The trail begins from the Upper Dungeness Trailhead. From Port Angeles head east on US-101 28.0km. Right on Palo Alto Rd, 12.9km. Veer right at a Y junction to NF-2880, go 2.6km. Pass the Dungeness Forks Campground. At the Y junction hang a left. Turn right on NF-2870. Drive 10.5km to reach the Trailhead.
|When to do|
Late June through September
Yes, along the trail. Check Port Angeles visitor centre.
Out and back
From the parking area head up along the Upper Dungeness Trail. You will start to gain elevation immediately as you follow the Dungeness River for approximately 2.0km.
You will arrive at the point where the Royal Creek feeds into the Dungeness River. Hang a right, following signs to the Royal Basin. Do NOT cross the river on the log bridge.
You will switchback up for a period of time, before continuing to follow the Royal Creek heading west. You will come to another trail junction where you will head straight to follow the Royal Creek.
Now comes the brunt of the elevation gain. You will follow the Royal Creek as it steadily climbs up and up and up. There are intermittent views across the valley of the Bluffs Ridge.
Finally, after just over 9.7km you will arrive at the lower Royal Meadows, where you will have your first major views. Looking back the way you came, Greywolf Mountain and its impressive, almost Rocky Mountain aesthetic will dominate the horizon.
Continue hiking up for another short ways until you get to Royal Lake. This absolutely gorgeous lake is a worthwhile turnaround spot for those not wanting to do the entire trail, and makes for a surprisingly warm swimming spot! Looking across Royal Lake you will see the expansive ridgeline extending from Mount Deception.
Head around Royal Lake and start climbing again. You will pass through a gorgeous meadow where you will have another great view looking back to Greywolf Mountain. Finally, you will reach the end of the trail in the grassy plateau at the foot of Mount Deception. It is now that you will realize just how apt the name of this hike is, as the view you are witnessing seems truly fit for a king.
In addition to Mount Deception, Mount Clark will provide nice ambiance to the northwest, and you may even be able to see Mount Fricaba to the southeast. After enjoying the views, return the way you came.
You can break up this long hike by camping at Royal Lake or the Lower Royal Meadows. You can also turn around earlier to make this a more achievable dayhike.
There are a lot of bugs up on the plateau. You have been warned!
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