Royal Lake

 

AUGUST 1, 2010  A CHS scouting hike.  It was cool and hazy from wildfires burning in not-so-far away BC as we left the trailhead just before 10:00 a.m. for this long hike in the Buckhorn Wilderness/Olympic National Park.  We were surprised to cross paths with so many backpackers and just a few people out for a Sunday day hike.  The odd light made landscape photography nearly impossible, but the wildflowers were bright and plentiful.  The trail to Royal Lake spends most of the time climbing through pretty woods before finally breaking out to views of Gray Wolf Ridge.  It switchbacks up to a quiet meadow, crosses Royal Creek on a sturdy log bridge, then makes one final upward charge to beautiful Royal Lake.   We stopped for lunch near the trail junction, then hiked down to the lower meadow for a quick look at massive Shelter Rock before starting our return trip. 

This is one of my favorite trails, and I've hiked it before--the first time I was suddenly spooked for no reason and turned back halfway, and the second as a backpack trip on a lovely fall weekend.  The wildflowers were a delightful surprise this trip.   

  14.4 miles roundtrip (15 miles with hiking around the lake basin)

2600' gain