WillhiteWeb.com - Olympic Mountains Hiking
Royal Basin was carved by glaciers at the head of Royal Creek in the Dungeness watershed. Mt. Deception, the second tallest mountain in the park is located at the head of the basin. It was named by early explorers for the confusion climbers tended to experience while making their way up. Today Royal Basin is renown for its spectacular old growth forests, wildflower meadows and craggy peaks. Royal Basin is a popular backpacking destination inside Olympic National Park. Since the hike isn't too long and the trail dead-ends, many make the journey, prepared or not.
Distance: 7.2 miles to Royal Lake & 8 miles to Upper Royal Basin
Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet to Royal Lake
Access: Good dirt roads
Take Hwy 101 north toward Sequim Bay State Park. Just before the park, turn left on Luella Road. Go 1.1 miles and turn left on Palo Alto Road. Follow this road for 6 miles, which turns into FR 28. Turn right on FR 2880 along the Dungeness River. At a junction in 1.7 miles, turn left onto FR 2870 and continue another 6.5 miles. At a large parking area you will find the Upper Dungeness River Trail.
The first mile is on the Dungeness River Trail which is an easy walk. At a well signed turn, go right toward Royal Basin. The next 5 miles gradually climb until the trail steepens about a mile from the lake. Along the way is scenic Royal Creek and numerous creek crossings. Royal Lake is nice but another mile and 500 feet of gain will put you into the stunning Upper Basin, with many towering peaks above.
Permits and Issues:
Permits are required to overnight camp and often limited between May 1 and September 30 so contact the FS. They like to keep the numbers to a minimum in this fragile environment, although in early season you are not likely to see others. High season is early July through mid-October. Bear canisters are required since the trees in the Royal Basin area are not suitable for food hanging. Reservations may be made no more than 30 days in advance by calling the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. Campfires are prohibited in Royal Basin to protect the dead and decaying wood that are the nutrients for fragile plants and soils.
Obviously I need to go back for good weather and a visit to the upper basin. Someday I'll climb Mt. Deception this way and do it in perfect conditions!