Royal Basin Trail is a 13.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Sequim, Washington that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.
From Sequim, 3 miles east on U.S. 101 to Palo Alto Road. Turn right and drive 7.5 miles to Forest Service Road 28. Stay left and drive 1 mile to Forest Service Road 2860. Turn right and drive 11 miles to the Dungeness Trailhead.
One of my all time favorites!
Beautiful scenery. Good trail. Spectacular lake s open meadows with deer and marmot. Also saw s grouse!
Amazing! Most beautiful trail I've been on! I uploaded some of my favorite pics for you!
Royal Basin is a beautiful hike. I do not recommend doing this as a day hike unless you are a glutton for punishment or a marathon runner. I went backpacking with friends and due to work schedules, we had to start the hike at night 8:30 PM at the Upper Dungeness Trailhead. Our packs were about 35 to 50 lbs and we were planning on staying two nights.
The trail starts off pretty easy to hike - level and serene - passing thru mossy heavily treed forestland for about 1 mile until you get to the first bridge. Keep right at the big boulder to go to the Royal Basin trail. It continues to be mossy and lovely even though the daylight was fading. You get to a point where a sign lets you know about the 3500 ft level where fires are no longer allowed. This is important to note later on in my review...
Here it begins to steadily climb until you emerge into an open bouldery area of rocky trail. Let the switchbacks begin! It was dark enough that I was glad I could not see what was ahead for fear of that nagging feeling of "Oh gawd. Another switchback ahead". Nope. You just keep on trucking up the trail. It was about here that we switched on our headlamps and stopped to rest for a moment. Little cotton tail bunnies darted about seemingly unaffected by our presence.
We arrived into the Lower Meadows at about 1:00 AM. Even though we were supposed to camp at Royal Lake, I am glad to say we decided not to that night. After setting up camp, it began to rain. And following the rain was a tremendous, booming lightning/thunder storm! It rumbled the ground until the trekking poles fell over. We all laid awake in awe until it stopped raining and thundering - about 6 AM. After a 45 minute nap, we got up and decided to break for Upper Royal Basin.
There is only one major campsite at the Lower Meadows unless you want to snuggle against someone else's tent. The rest of the meadow is thick with underbrush. Royal Creek meanders all over the place, so there are plenty of places to pump water. Right after the meadow, the trail ascends a series of steep switchbacks to Royal Lake. The lake is teeming with trout - brook trout that is - and we did see some monsters gliding and jumping thru the water. If you are camping here, I would recommend the campsite on the far side of the lake opposite the entrance. It looks like the most private. But we were determined to go to Upper Basin, so we trudged on.
Passing the ranger cabin, the trail emerges into a meadow and then begins climbing up a hillside following a draw. The trail can be narrow along the rocky open mountain side. Eventually you get to the Upper Royal Basin area where you see a beautiful blue tarn. I did swim in the frigid blue glacial waters and it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be. You will get some peculiar stares from passerbyers and a few irked photographers that they must wait to experience this placid little lake. The surrounding foliage is mountain creeping phlox, lilies, blue bells, and little yellow sunflowers. It is a very pretty site. A marmot family also greeted us at the lake and didn't seem to care too much of our existence.
Bugs. A word about Bugs. You definitely want the strongest of deet and even then...wear clothing that the mosquitoes cannot bite through. My rump, knees, and elbows look like I was struck with a violent case of measles. I used a 98% deet spray but they still managed to bite me through my running shorts where the spray did not exist. I doubt anyone will be sunbathing here. But as long as you are moving around and swatting consistently, the bites will be kept to a minimum.
Mt. Deception towered behind us. You can see the trail that people use to climb it. If we had prepared, it would have been a welcome ascent. But since we were tired, we decided to sleep. At about 8 PM, the ranger came up to visit us. Sadly, we did not have the required Bear Canister - my friends who got the permit, had forgotten it. So he said, "You can hike down to the Royal Lake area and use one of my bear cans and leave your food in my care, or you can hike down to 3500 feet and camp there". There was no way I could convince my friends to store their food with the ranger. So they decided they wanted to hike out at 9 PM at night 8 miles from the trail head.
My heart sunk. I was so tired and that was a long ways back. My friends were ticked and left me to break the camp down while the ranger stood there trying to idly chat about rules and such. Seriously Ranger Brian, I don't think it would have helped. My friends took off on the trail and left me to carry the tent back down in the dark. I fell on the trail twice. When we finally emerged to Royal Lake, it was dark and I was tired. All the campsites were full. So I made the executive decision to trek back to Lower Meadows - and I had the car keys so they would HAVE to obey! Luckily, no one was at the Lower Meadows Campsite. We quickly setup camp and shoved all our gear under the vestibule of the t
A truly wonderful backpack trip.
The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. Muddy with standing water in places - pretty typical for any Olympic trail in June.
We completed this hike in late June of a fairly typical year for snowfall in the Olympics. The trail was snowfree until the "lower meadow" was reached about 1 to 1.5 miles before reaching Royal Lake. From there spotty snow up to Royal Lake and its environs at about 5,100'.
Several beautiful campsites on the West and South ends of the Royal Lake as well as a nice group campsite a few hundred yards on just South of the backcountry ranger station.
This area can be "buggy" but we were blessed with a bug free weekend.
Using Royal Lake as a base, we climbed to the "upper basin" area for lunch on day 2. The upper basin was snow covered with the Imperial Tarn just beginning to melt. A true alpine experience surrounded by rugged peaks and kept company by the whistling marmonts in the basin.
About 4.5 hrs from trailhead to Royal Lake with full backpacks at a leisurely pace. 3 hrs to return the morning of day 3.
Beautiful hike. As of mid June there was still quite a bit of snow around a mile from the lake and turned around. Part of the trail has been washed out and there is an avalanche to cross. Both require a bit of navigation to find and follow the trail. Overall beautiful hike. I will be doing it again in august when I can go all the way to the lake.