Royal Lake trail is a moderate backpacking trip or a long day hike with excellent alpine views with amazing mountain vistas. Seven peaks 7,000 feet or more surround the river valley and lake basin.

The trail starts alongside Royal Creek with plenty of parking. The elevation starts slow as the trail cruises through tall Douglas fir, cedar and spruce trees. Undergrowth comes and goes as the floor bottom is mostly covered in dense needles, and organic matter the first 2.5 miles. The trail follows the creek all along the trail with the sound of rushing rapids close by.

Around 2.5 miles to 3 miles the hike starts gaining  quality elevation. Opening up it crosses several creek gullies as Gray Wolf Ridge, to the north, starts to be seen with mountain vistas popping up the rest of the 4.2 miles.

After hiking up two very steep switchbacks Mount Deception, the 3rd largest peak in the Olympics, starts to make it’s presence known.

At about 4.5 miles the trail becomes easy and gains elevation only slightly. Next the lower basin confronts the hiker and one thinks Royal Lake is right around the corner, but the last half mile gains elevation fast with many switchbacks.  Keep with it, your reward is soon and very sweet!

Royal Lake is small with several campsites but the upper basin above the lake is pristine. Campsites are plenty here as mountain meadows run wild.  Tarns spread out along the meadows fed by clear mountain snowmelt. Exploring is all one can think about as camp is set up. You’ll hate the idea of hiking back out after seeing Royal Lakes magnificent alpine scenery.


From I-5 head to Olympia to get on Hwy 101. Drive highway 101 to just south of Sequim Bay State Park and turn south on Louella Road. Follow this for a mile to a “T” and turn left on Palo Alto Road. At around 6 miles from hwy 101, fork right off the paved road onto a gravel road with a sign saying Dungeness Forks Camp, forest road 2880. At this point you will lose elevation following a steep dirt road. This road takes a left across a bridge. Follow this up and down winding road to another fork, around 12 miles from hwy 101, and go left, onto forest road 2860. At around 17 miles reach the large parking lot of the Upper Dungeness trailhead.

Season: Summer and Fall

Length round trip: 14.4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 2,550 ft.

Highest point: 5,100 ft.

Features: Forest, rivers, lake, mountain vistas, scrambling, climbing, wildlife viewing, wildflowers

Wildlife: Hoary Marmots, Deer, Mountain Goats, Bears

Trailhead amenities: Log Book, Large Parking Lot, Ranger station

Passes/Permits: NW Forest Pass

Special Information: Camping is limited between May 1 and September 30, Reservations Required. No bear wire. No campfires above 3,500 feet.

Usage: Hikers

Agency: Olympic National Park, first mile is National Forest Service

Map: USGS Mt Zion,   Green Trails #136 Tyler Peak

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