Royal Basin – 14.3mi / 23km
An emerald green lake sits in the exquisite Royal Basin, crowned by the jagged ridelines of Mt. Deception and the Needles. Dungeness Trail 833 starts in the National Forest as it follows the beautiful Dungeness River that playfully cascades over the rocks. The cathedral forest is a wonder to walk through.
Upon reaching Royal Creek, follow the signed trail as you gain elevation and cross into the national park. Royal Creek continues its gorgeous cascades through the forest. As you travel up the creek, breaks in the forest reveal surrounding ridgelines and the stunning basin at the head of the valley.
You’ve got quite a bit of forest walking to go, including some steeper switchbacks, but you eventually make it to the Lower Meadow campsites with sweeping views around you. Royal Lake sits just above this meadow. After a brief climb through the trees, you’ll pop out on the shores of the emerald lake. The east shore of the lake gives you great views of the tall, jagged, gray rocks of the Needles.
For those with extra energy, continue past the lake on the signed trail that works its way up past a marshy meadow to the moonscape upper basin for a truly exceptional experience. Here, alpine meadows and surreal boulder fields with glacial tarns are surrounded by Mt. Deception and other gnarled ridges.
Trailhead: From Hwy 101, 2.7 miles east of Sequim, turn south onto Palo Alto Road 8 miles. (If coming from the south, turn left onto Louella Road across from the Sequim State Park, then left onto Palo Alto Road.) Take a right onto NF-2880 and follow the road for 1.6 miles to NF-2870. Stay left onto NF-2870 for 2.6 miles. Turn right to stay on NF-2870 (road sign is subtle) and follow for another 6.5 miles to the large switchback and well marked parking area. Trail begins on northwest side of the river.
Elevation Gain: 3,100ft / 930m – Elevation Loss: 3,100ft / 930m