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Royal Basin Trail

MODERATE 84 reviews
#23 of 170 trails in

Royal Basin Trail is a 16 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.

Distance: 16.0 miles Elevation Gain: 3,766 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

snow

no dogs

A tough at times hike but absolutely worth it. Drive to trailhead is along a one-lane dirt road going into the mountains, nothing too scary but be ready to pullover for traffic. Beginning of hike is fairly flat and easy, but after a few hours you'll get into some steep elevation gains. Nothing hairy, just exhausting, especially if you're bringing a fully loaded pack. When you get to towards the first basin it may be incredibly buggy, bring some spray. Great views of the glacial mountains along the way. Once you get to Royal Lake you'll be tempted to chill or swim in the beautiful blue water, but if you've got the energy definitely continue on to the to upper basin. By the end you'll have seen some beautiful meadows and another stunning glacial lake surrounded by snowy mountains. If camping, the lake campsites are nice, but there's a number of sites. If looking for something more private, consider the Lower Royal Meadow sites. You're right next to the creek so easy to filter water. This are can be really buggy.

hiking
muddy
snow
9 days ago

This is such a fun trail! The climb is steady and definitely a work out but doable as a day hike - we started about 8:30 am, took a few breaks and ate lunch at royal lake, back to the trailhead by about 5 pm. The forest below was lush a green, we hiked up to snow, more waterfalls and the beautiful lake! If it’s snowy or icy, bring traction - some parts of the trail would be pretty sketch without it.

hiking
blowdown
bugs
1 month ago

At almost ten hours round trip time, this was my longest but also my most enjoyable day hike in Olympic National Park. It takes a while to get to the trailhead, and the vast majority of users seemed to be headed to one of the camp sites. Both the trail and the NF access road are in very good condition. Although Royal Lake is very pretty in its own right, the trip to the upper basin is nothing short of amazing. It's easy to step over the occasional blowdown, and horseflies can be a bit of a nuisance -- bring insect repellent or swat them before they can bite. There are lots of ripe and tasty berries along the trail -- just be sure to make positive identification before helping yourself to a snack.

hiking
1 month ago

Only issue is that the “getting there” directions are nonsense...definitely don’t turn left onto 28 or you’ll end up at Mt. Zion. Just look up “Dungeness Trailheads” and go with that. Otherwise, amazing day hike in/hike out. Lots of marmots. Gorgeous.

22 miles 2.600 eleven

hiking
2 months ago

One of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done! Was definitely wiped out afterwards though. Pretty relentless uphill on the way there. Some parts of the trail are pretty overgrown but doable, and there were 2-3 downed trees that were easy to get over. A couple mosquitos up at the lake but no biggie. 10/10

hiking
2 months ago

I absolutely loved this hike. Beautiful views all along the hike. The last mile or so to the upper basin got fairly steep at times and it was exhausting with a full pack. But it was definitely worth it and I would do this hike again in a heartbeat. Really amazing scenery at the upper basin. Mosquitos are active—I was really glad I brought a mosquito net for the evening.

recorded Royal Basin Trail

hiking
3 months ago

The trail is in very good condition and clear all the way up to Royal Lake. We camped at the Lower Meadow campsite, right next to Royal Creek Rover which came in handy as a water source. There are PLENTY of mosquitos - I ended up getting bitten >20times even through my pants. Bring lots of deet! The trail from Royal Lake to the Upper Basin was mostly clear except for the last incline which is still covered in snow. The snow is melting and is very slippery during the day. I didn’t use my microspikes but definitely recommend poles! Overall, very nice hike. We saw a few deer and one stubborn goat who kept hanging out at Royal Lake campsite. It took us approx 5 hrs to Royal Lake and 4hrs back to the car.

backpacking
10 months ago

Spent 4 days backpacking here with a student group. Being from South Carolina, this hike was insane. It is even harder with a pack. I have never seen views and been in altitudes like this hike before doing it! What a great trail. Tough part towards the top as someone from a flat area, but worth the slow and steady climb. Still can’t believe this is just a day hike for some folk...

hiking
10 months ago

10/13/19. Beautiful hike. Did day hike. Many were camped at the Royal Lake. Hiked to upper Royal Lake, well worth the extra trek.

backpacking
Friday, August 31, 2018

Beautiful trail. The last few miles up to the lake are pretty steep but worth the views.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Did this trail as a day hike in July - it was doable, but I’m sure it would be more enjoyable as a backpacking trip. Be prepared for sore feet if you do it in a day. After you get to the lake, make sure you take the side trip past the “ranger station” (aka wooden platform) to Royal Basin Falls. We also went to the large meadow above the lake, but did not go all the way to the Upper Basin. Beautiful hike and worth the pain :)

hiking
Thursday, August 09, 2018

Beautiful!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Lots of time in the woods. Lake is beautiful. Bring bug spray!

backpacking
Monday, July 16, 2018

A tough at times hike but absolutely worth it. Drive to trailhead is along a one-lane dirt road going into the mountains, nothing too scary but be ready to pullover for traffic. Beginning of hike is fairly flat and easy, but after a few hours you'll get into some steep elevation gains. Nothing hairy, just exhausting, especially if you're bringing a fully loaded pack. When you get to towards the first basin it may be incredibly buggy, bring some spray. Great views of the glacial mountains along the way. Once you get to Royal Lake you'll be tempted to chill or swim in the beautiful blue water, but if you've got the energy definitely continue on to the to upper basin. By the end you'll have seen some beautiful meadows and another stunning glacial lake surrounded by snowy mountains. If camping, the lake campsites looked nice, but there's a number of sites. If looking for something more private, consider the Lower Royal Meadow sites, there were only 2 that I saw. You're right next to the creek so easy to filter water. Was really buggy, but I don't think you can get away from that anywhere. Quite chilly at night as well.

backpacking
Friday, March 02, 2018

Royal Basin is the finest alpine area in the Dungeness watershed.Streams cross the trail regularly.In the southeast corner of the basin it's not to difficult to gain the top of Royal ridge.The view over the basin is magnificent.I like to drop in to Milk Creek and go over to the other side of Milk Creek basin,over to an magnificent viewpoint for Warrior,Mt.Con stance and Inner Constance.Some steep snow often.

hiking
Sunday, January 07, 2018

Did this as a day hike with a buddy. Other than me being a dumb dumb with new inserts it was a great trip. It was kind of chilly and windy so bugs were at a minimum. Stopped at the lower camp and was roomy as far as places to park gear but was hard to find water and good camp things. Upper camp much better for finding things like that and camping spots were pretty big and seemed to be enough. I would pay to stay up there. Didn’t make it to the lake at the top but that was my own fault. Early September

hiking
Monday, October 02, 2017

The trail is in good condition with only two trees to climb over. Mostly dry rift now.

hiking
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We did this hike as a day trip from Seattle. Lots of driving but completely worth it. The drive is very straightforward, with good signage on the FS roads. We arrived at the trailhead at about 830 and were surprised to see 20-30 cars already there. It turns out most were not headed up to Royal Basin, we didn't see many people on the trail. The hike itself is wonderful. It starts out in a dense forest, gradually ascending next to a mountain stream. The forest is thickly carpeted in a layer of moss. After a few miles, the moss fades as you enter more of an alpine forest, through a few meadows and with the occasional view of the valley ahead. The trail continues through this picturesque alpine forest and eventually hits the Royal Lake, a great spot for a break. There were a few birds in the area aggressively trying to steal our snacks, literally attempting to grab them out of our hands. Once past the lake, there's another beautiful meadow and a short trail to the ranger station, which is a platform with a backpacking tent setup on it. Definitely head down this detour - shortly past the ranger station is a great waterfall to explore. Back on the main trail, it's a quick hike up through more meadows and into some rocky terrain to the basin, which was our lunch spot. If you make it to the lake, don't stop there, the basin is totally worth the short extra hike. We stayed there for a while, ate lunch, and headed all the way back down. Much of the trail is criss-crossed by numerous animal trails. We saw a bunch of deer, a couple crossed the trail very close to us. They were surprisingly comfortable coexisting with humans. It didn't seem like they were looking for food, they simply trusted that we weren't a threat in any way, which was a very cool experience. Overall, the hike is a gradual to moderately steep incline throughout. Nothing too tough. According to the Green Trails Map, round trip to the basin is 8.6 miles each way for a total round trip of 17.2. Including about an hour for lunch and frequent water breaks, the total hike time for us was about 9 hrs. If you're thinking about doing this in a single day (definitely doable) during the late summer/early fall time frame, I would recommend leaving the trailhead no later than 9 am to allow plenty of hiking time and enough daylight to complete the hike safely.

backpacking
Wednesday, August 09, 2017

tough hiking because it's long but so worth it

hiking
Saturday, July 01, 2017

Beautiful hike along the river. We did not go all the way to the basin today but enjoyed what we saw

backpacking
Monday, June 05, 2017

Hiked end of May 2017. Snow around 4000ft. Royal lake snowed in. Hiked up to the ridge between Mt. Deception and Mt. Fricaba (bring crampons and ice axe).

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One of my all time favorites!

hiking
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Beautiful scenery. Good trail. Spectacular lake s open meadows with deer and marmot. Also saw s grouse!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Amazing! Most beautiful trail I've been on! I uploaded some of my favorite pics for you!

hiking
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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

hiking
Monday, June 24, 2013

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.

hiking
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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.

hiking
9 days ago

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