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Trip Report

Royal Basin - Royal Lake — Friday, Jul. 2, 2021

Olympic Peninsula

Trip Report By

WTA Member


Type of Hike

Day hike

Trail Conditions

Obstacles on trail:
    Difficult stream crossing(s),
    Muddy or wet trail,
    Mud/Rock slide or washout.


Road rough but passable


Bugs were not too bad


Snowfields to cross - could be difficult

Just back from an overnight at Royal Lake. A good hike. Trail pretty nice; mostly well maintained and never unmanageably steep, though certainly had to stop a couple times to catch my breath in the last push to the lake and then to the basin.

 The first two miles in the forest is beautiful, with TONS of new growth showing on the salal and rhodys. Royal Creek campground is a great spot for a rest by the river before the real elevation gain starts.

However, I passed this opportunity on my way in and instead kept climbing through what looked like freshly-brushed trail to a semi-shaded spot just before the trail flattens out a bit where I had half a Bartell's capicola sandwich ($7 stretched to 2 meals, would recommend) and took some pics.

Shortly after lunch, at maybe mile 5.5 (?) I heard rockfall behind and above me. I turned around quickly and saw a little black fuzzbutt disappearing behind a tree. A bear! Very exciting. It hadn't occurred to me until  then that a bear might be the reason for rockfall on a hike, but of course that's a possibility. That was my only bear sighting of the hike.

The lower basin is really boggy  and there's a ton of water on trail right now. I think it would be solvable with some pretty straightforward drainage work, but it might also just be extra--high runoff from the temps recently.

Found a spot at camp (+1 to ONP for excellent signage at Royal Lake -- the campsites are really well marked, except for the one by the huge rock) and headed up to Upper Royal Basin.

This section was a bit rougher. There's a creek crossing you pretty much have to do barefoot (I did it in trail runners on the way up and they stayed slightly damp out for the rest of the trip) and then a sorta icky traverse on some scree that was fine going up but I didn't love going down. I was very grateful for new-ish shoes with good tread. Nothing slid out from under me.

There is also one section of trail that crossed a creek on snow. On the way in, I crossed it fine (tis was at ~3:30p) but by the time I was on my way down (~6pm) there were visible holes, and I wound up using my poles to run and jump over it. It's a very short section, and worst case scenario you just take your boots off and wade.

Upper Royal Basin rules. Very cool.  Spent ~3 hours up there wandering around and basking in the sun and then later the shade of the only accessible rock. Two guys who had climbed Johnson Mountain were taking off and I took  their spot when I got there. It's a pretty large rock, so I could share it with a mom and daughter who joined me up there later.

Uneventful return to camp and return hike. But one note is the privy situation at Royal Lake. It's weird. There are two composting toilets stationed really close together, with a little four foot fence in front of them. But the bases of the toilets are so high that the fence doesn't cover anything. I'm not sure what the expectation here is -- I guess my suggestion would be to bring someone with you if you can to let potential users know it's occupied.


RisiP on Royal Basin - Royal Lake

Would spikes/traction help? Or would that be overkill at this point?

Posted by:

RisiP on Jul 06, 2021 07:35 PM

nwroth on Royal Basin - Royal Lake

I would say you certainly don't need them to get to the lake, and I wouldn't bother with them to get to the upper basin. However, trekking poles would be really helpful past the lake so you can safely cross the creek and get up and down the talus slope section that has really bad trail.

Posted by:

nwroth on Jul 07, 2021 10:18 AM