Royal Basin

Upper Dungeness Trail #833, Royal Creek Trail


SEPTEMBER 13 - 14, 2008  A Mountaineers backpack trip.  It was a sunny morning when our group of five set off on the trail to Royal Basin for an overnight backpack trip.  This trail follows Royal Creek and skirts Gray Wolf Ridge, traverses open forests and mossy parklands where you expect to see Hobbits and Elves at any moment, wanders through old growth forests and golden  meadows, crosses  rock slides and little streams and finally climbs steeply into lower Royal Basin.  The ever changing terrain was a joy to hike through and the weather could not have been more perfect for a late summer hike.  There was no wind, and beautiful Royal Lake was as smooth as glass.  We were greeted by a sociable marmot who whistled at us and posed for photos on our way to our campsite in the meadow on the far side of Shelter Rock.   Temperatures dropped sharply as the sun set, but we stayed up after dinner to watch the night sky fill with stars.  We retreated to the warmth of our tents and sleeping bags after watching the nearly full moon rise. 

The meadow was frosty when we woke the next morning, and we were visited by several deer and gray jays.  We followed the short trail that led past our campsite and the summer ranger station to a beautiful waterfall before hiking to upper Royal Basin.  The trail climbs through sub-alpine trees and crosses a flat meadow before making one last climb into the upper basin, which is so beautiful that words don't do it justice.  A milky blue lake is surrounded by mountains; reflecting Mt. Deception on one side and the Needles on another.  There is much to explore up here, and we spent the next two hours exploring on our own.   We were reluctant to leave when our turn-around time came, and all agreed that we'd camp in the upper basin on our next trip to Royal Basin. 

14 miles round trip to Royal Lake, 2600' gain

2 miles round trip to the upper basin, 500' gain