Royal Basin, Royal Basin - Upper Dungeness Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Royal Basin - 14.8 Miles
Royal Basin - Upper Dungeness Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||14.8 Miles ((includes Upper Basin))|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,540' - 5,107' (Royal Lake) : 5,695' (Tarn in Upper Basin)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,567' net elevation gain to Royal Lake : +3,155' net elevation gain to Tarn|
Royal Lake is located 6.1 miles from the Upper Dungeness Trailhead in Olympic National Park.
It lies at the base of a capacious alpine valley holding a spectacular collection of tarns, glaciers and 7,000' peaks collectively called Royal Basin.
The hike begins in the Olympic National Forest on the Dungeness River Trail before departing up Royal Creek to the lake. It continues .95 miles and 590' above Royal Lake into the Upper Basin where you may explore a network of idyllic meadows, waterfalls, snowfields, and tarns:
The Dungeness River Trail heads southeast on a rolling grade to a bridge where you'll bear right for Royal Basin (1.0 miles : 2,735'). Do not cross the bridge.
The trail enters Olympic National Park (1.2 miles : 2,885) and levels beside Royal Creek with many access points along its even banks. The voluminous, cascading creek is a compelling destination in itself.
The grade is mild through a stately fir and hemlock forest and a thin, moss-covered understory. At 2.7 miles (3,445') the timber breaks on an avalanche slope with your first look at peaks in the upper valley.
The trail drops back into an exceptionally attractive forest beside the creek to the last campsites with permissible fires (3.0 miles : 3,425'). Travel soon intensifies on a shifting, rugged course through intervals of heavy brush and a cluttered understory.
Grades steepen considerably from 3.7 miles (3,800') - 4.3 miles (4,400') with just two brief clearings on this otherwise yeoman-like push into a subalpine forest.
The trail drops and moderates (5.1 miles : 4,580') for a spell into a broad, stream-crossed meadow at the Lower Meadow Campsites (5.65 miles : 4,705').
It continues over a log bridge and presses steeply to the north shore of Royal Lake (6.1 miles : 5,107').
Royal Lake is comparatively small but open with magnificent views on its south shore. The trail forks and circles the lake; head left for quick travel to the south shore.
To reach the Upper Basin Trail, follow signs from the south shore through a large meadow to the Group Campsite and Ranger Tent.
The Upper Basin Trail begins behind the Group Site on the far end of the meadow, .35 miles from when you first reach the lake (6.45 miles : 5,102').
The Upper Basin Trail crosses a log bridge and climbs steeply before leveling off in an expansive alpine meadow (6.8 miles : 5,345').
It skirts the meadow before crossing a stream at a very ill-defined (and somewhat counter-intuitive) point.
The trail seemingly heads straight for a waterfall, but the intended route bears right across the stream (7.0 miles : 5,380') and begins a very steep climb up an open gulch with unabated views over the meadow below.
The trail abruptly levels at another fork in the open Upper Basin (7.3 miles : 5,640'). Bear right and wrap around a knoll to the first of several large accessible tarns in the basin (7.4 miles : 5,695').
The Upper Basin is capped by Mount Deception (7,788') and a ring of jagged, glacier lined peaks. Travel is rugged but possible over rolling moraines between the Upper Basin's many snowfields and tarns.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N47 52.691 W123 08.223 — 0.0 miles : Dungeness Trailhead
- N47 52.185 W123 09.142 — .8 miles : Lower Maynard Burn Trail split
- N47 52.144 W123 09.043 — 1.0 miles : Royal Basin - Upper Dungeness Trail split
- N47 52.213 W123 09.504 — 1.2 miles : Olympic National Park boundary
- N47 52.375 W123 09.975 — 1.6 miles : Rolling travel beside creek
- N47 52.441 W123 10.507 — 2.2 miles : Mild grade through moss covered floor
- N47 52.093 W123 11.395 — 3.0 miles : No fires beyond this point
- N47 51.656 W123 12.091 — 3.7 miles : Travel intensifies in brushy forest
- N47 51.360 W123 12.738 — 4.3 miles : Steep, shifting, rugged trail
- N47 50.795 W123 12.908 — 5.1 miles : Trails dips and moderates
- N47 50.349 W123 12.679 — 5.65 miles : Lower Meadow Campsites
- N47 49.976 W123 12.676 — 6.1 miles : Royal Lake
- N47 49.816 W123 12.762 — 6.45 miles : Group Site - Trail to Upper Basin
- N47 49.443 W123 12.843 — 7.0 miles : Cross creek (right)
- N47 49.301 W123 13.014 — 7.3 miles : Fork in Upper Basin; bear right for tarn
- N47 49.298 W123 13.167 — 7.4 miles : Tarn in Upper Basin
- Bug spray is highly recommended on this trail.
- For those with a late start, campsites along Royal Creek over the first 3 miles are easy to reach and exceptionally nice. Fires are permitted to this point.
- Moraines in the Upper Basin are generally comprised of loose, decrepit rock that gives and cracks with little warning. Tread very carefully over moraines and snowfields. Do not overestimate the stability of rock and snow in the Upper Basin.
- Approximately 3,450' of total elevation is gained on the roundtrip hike between the trailhead and upper basin tarn.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- There's a $5 registration fee per group, + $2 per person per night (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time.
- Quotas and Reservations are in effect May 1 - September 30 for Royal Lake and the Royal Basin. All sites along Royal Creek, Royal Meadow, Royal Lake, and Royal Basin require reservations, which can be secured first come, first served from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance. Self registration is not permitted during this time.
- Camp only in established sites, which are located and numbered around the lake.
- Food Storage: Bear canisters are required in Royal Basin.
- Fires: Campfires are permitted up to 3,500'. Fires are not permitted at the Lower Meadow campsites, Royal Lake, or Upper Basin.
- A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.
- Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).
- The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $5 day use fee to park and recreate in the Olympic National Forest. Self registration and pay envelopes are available at the trailhead. There are several inter-agency passes (e.g. Northwest Forest Pass, National Park Pass) that are accepted and waive the fee.
- Dogs are permitted in the Olympic National Forest, but not within Olympic National Park. Dogs are not permitted on the Royal Basin Trail.
The Royal Basin - Upper Dungeness Trailhead is located 17.2 miles from Highway 101.
From HWY 101 just east of Sequim (near Sequim Bay State Park), turn onto Louella Road and drive .8 miles to Palo Alto Road. Turn left on Palo Alto (which becomes FR 28) and drive 6.4 miles to a fork.
Bear right onto FR 2880 (you'll see a sign for Dungeness area trails). At 8.3 miles, bear left at another fork (follow signs for Dungeness area trails). At 10.7 miles, bear right on FR 2870 at another sign for Dungeness area trails. Follow this to the trailhead.
The main parking area is located over the bridge, but you may also park in designated spaces along the road closer to the trailhead.
Forest Service Roads are well maintained dirt roads suitable for all vehicles, but are narrow, winding, and subject to washouts and dust-ups. Drive carefully, and pay close attention to signs and turns. Roads are minimally signed and can be confusing, especially on the drive back to 101.
Olympic National Forest
Hood Canal Ranger District - Quilcene
295142 Highway 101 S.
PO Box 280
Quilcene, WA 98376
(360) 765 2200
TDD (360) 765 2200
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Visitor Information: 360.565.3130
Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131
Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)
Staircase Ranger Station: 360.877.5569
Seasonal Hours: June 24 - September 2: Open 8:30 - 5, Friday - Sunday
Quinault Wilderness Information Office