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Dungeness River #833.2,Goat Lake,Royal Basin #97

Jul 20, 2002

by EThorson last modified Sep 10, 2008 02:50 PM
Type of Outing
Day hike
Read More in our Hiking Guide
Hike: Upper Dungeness River
Region: Olympics -- East
Agency: Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District
Trails: Dungeness River (#833.2)
Avg Rating: 4.33
Be Aware Of
Water on trail
Snow on trail

From the map it looked possible to do a day trip up the Dungeness to Camp Handy, cross the ridge to the west at Goat Lake, and return via the Royal Basin Trail. Fired up with enthusiasm for an interesting cross- country route, I arrived at the Upper Dungeness trailhead at 4:30 AM on a beautiful Saturday morning. Camp Handy on the Dungeness was reached in short order, where I tried not to wake the sleeping campers while I searched for a crossing to the west side of the river. It turns out there is a logjam and trail through the brush to a fine camp on the west side just downstream. The fisherman’s trail to Goat Lake was located by heading southwest through the woods to the stream draining the lake. The route to the lake is described in the second edition of Wood’s guide, and is a very distinct but steep trail to beautiful Goat Lake.

After a snack and some photos I headed up to the obvious pass west of the lake. At the top it looked possible to descend a snow filled gully to a broad scree slope, then down to the lower meadow on Royal Creek. I decided that I would instead traverse the mountainside east of Royal Creek to upper Royal Basin. This route, requiring an ice axe, involved travel over snow, broken rock, very loose talus, and scree. It was taxing as significant elevation is lost working around a spur, which has to be regained to get to the basin.

The upper basin looked about 50% melted out, but with no significant wildflower display yet. There were very few bugs out as well. Being Saturday, a lot of people were enjoying the sunshine and climbing the peaks. I picked up the Royal Basin Trail and descended the steep but snow-free trail past the meadows to Royal Lake. There were lots of hikers everywhere and a shortage of campsites due to groups without permits or reservations. The backcountry ranger found the last available site for a valid permit holder that arrived around 2:00 PM.

No difficulties, other than mosquitoes, were experienced as I descended the Royal Basin Trail. All bridges are in place and the trail is brushed out. On the way out I met at least ten groups heading for the lake and wondered what the ranger was going to do with all these people. I finally walked up to my car at about 5:30, tired and sore, but with lasting memories of incredible scenery and a beautiful clear day.

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