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Royal Basin - Royal Lake

Olympic Peninsula


Olympic Peninsula -- Hood Canal
View map below


16.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 2650 ft.
Highest Point: 5700 ft.


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WTA worked here: 2016

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

You will see plenty in the first 7.2 miles of this trip that take you to the shores of Royal Lake, but you should plan your hike to have the time –and energy -- to enjoy the wildflower-dotted alpine basin and its milky blue tarns in Upper Royal Basin about three-quarters of a mile past the lake.

Your trip starts on the Upper Dungeness trail. After about a gentle mile of this trail you’ll come to the intersection with the Royal Basin trail just a few steps before the footlog bridge spanning Royal Creek. Turn right to join the Royal Basin Trail.

The trail soon makes a couple switchbacks and though it rises above the creek, the clatter and din of the plunging waters provide mood music for your trek. You’ll stay left at the intersection with the Mount Maynard way trail and soon enter Olympic National Park. The trail passes through moss-carpeted halls of firs and hemlocks with a few step-over creeks to negotiate.

Soon the trail breaks into talus-strewn open stretches with commanding views up, down and across the valley. The first of these often features a white-ribboned waterfall streaming down a cliff face about a half mile upslope from the trail. After revisiting the creek near some campsites the trail diverges from the waters and climbs via switchbacks again on open slopes.

The trail takes on a pattern of long traverses punctuated by steep climbs. Switchbacks help you on the ascents before Royal Lake. The two climbs above the lake to get to the Upper Basin are more direct.

At 7.2 miles and 5,100 feet of elevation, Royal Lake is a gem. The land around has suffered in the past from overuse that prompted the Park’s camping reservation system. Up valley from the lake is a seasonal Ranger post. Follow the side trail past the Ranger tent platform to a fine view of waterfalls.

Shelter Rock with its massive sheltering overhang is hard to miss on your left as you continue upward. With the rock looming almost directly above you, you’ll cross a short footlog and start striding upward to where the trail levels off at Arrowhead Meadow. Enjoy the views and the gentle grade. You’ll soon be crossing an unbridged stream and ascending to Upper Royal Basin. The blue tarns are to the west and a little bit higher at about 5700 feet.

Some off-trail hikers can head even farther from the upper basin, either south over a ridge into Deception Basin or east over a ridge into Milk Creek Basin.

WTA Pro Tip: Most of this trip is in Olympic National Park. Camping is allowed only at designated locations and campsites within Royal Basin. From May 1 through September 30, reservations are also required. Campfires are not permitted above 3,500 feet, and bear canisters are required for food storage. Contact the Wilderness Information Center at Olympic National Park for permit and reservation.


Royal Basin - Royal Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.8779, -123.1369 Open map in new window


Olympic Peninsula -- Hood Canal

Upper Dungeness (#833.2), Royal Basin (#97)

Olympic National Park

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Olympic Mountains Trail Guide by Robert L. Wood (Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Tyler Peak No. 136

Custom Correct Buckhorn Wilderness

Getting There

From beautiful Blyn on US 101, check your odometer at the intersection of 101 and Sophus Road on the west side of the Longhouse Deli and gas station, and head towards Sequim on 101. In 1.7 miles take a left onto Louella Road. Take Louella 0.9 miles to its end at the intersection with Palo Alto Road, and turn left on Palo Alto. Follow Palo Alto for 5.8 miles and turn right onto Forest Road 2880. This gravel road winds steeply down for 0.9 miles until you cross the bridge over the Dungeness River and drive past the Dungeness Forks Campground. In another 0.9 miles, you arrive at an intersection. Go straight (not right) on what is now Forest Road 2870. In another 2.5 miles bear right at an intersection to stay on 2870. In another 4.9 miles, take the left fork to stay on 2870. In 1.6 miles, you will again cross the Dungeness River and be at the sizable trailhead parking lot. Trailhead amenities include picnic table and vault toilet.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

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Royal Basin - Royal Lake

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