Trail Running -Olympic National Park – Royal Creek to Royal Lake


Hiking Trail: Royal Lake Trail
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Date: July 22, 2012
Distance: 15 miles, out and back/return trip
Trailhead: 2500 feet
Highpoint: 5100 feet
Elevation Gain: 2600 feet
Hike Difficulty: Moderate. Average hiking time 6 to 7 hours (return trip).
Trail Notes: Variable, double wide soft terrain thru single track rocky with stream crossings.
Pass/Parking: Northwest Forest Parking Pass required.

A NW summer trail jogging adventure into the Olympic Mountains scenic Royal Basin area. Weather Conditions: 61F at sea level, overcast, drizzly threatening rain later. Freezing level 6000ft. Light winds.

Directions: To follow.

Royal Lake


My jog began at the Upper Dungeness trailhead at 2500ft. After one mile in at the confluence of the Dungeness River and Royal Creek (2800ft) turn right (wooden sign posted). Continue on a wide, soft trail meandering up through mossy covered forest floor and shrouded by a tall treed canopy.

At about 4 miles in, the trail steepened to the first of many avalanche debris slope crossings, to the point where I was unable to jog  and had to walk. I continued jogging all the easier angled sections.

Eventually the canopy covered trail opened out into a scenic lower meadows with fragrant alpine flowers and bursts of color under dull gray skies. The final uphill slog to Royal Lake was tiring but soon over.

royal lake

Royal Lake

I sat down and ate my peanut butter, cheddar cheese, marmalade sandwich and nutty Lara bar followed by caffeinated 5 hour energy drink and more water.

The higher mountain amphitheater was hidden by heavy cloud and surrounding slopes still had many remaining snow patches. A thinning in the cloud cover allowed warmth from the Sun to stop me being chilled by the 40F temperature.

I set off quickly after eating for the return jog and soon passed many hikers/backpackers I’d seen  previously. All footings were good with no slips, but caution was necessary on all the rocky narrow areas. Back at the Dungeness/Royal Creek confluence rain had started, but I was sheltered by the thick forest canopy.

I returned to the trailhead after a total time of 3 hrs 45 mins to cross the forest road bridge in a downpour and made it back to the car without getting excessively wet or cold.

Running Gear: I wore – long sleeved breathable tee shirt, running shorts and DryMax socks. I also carried a thin fleece and light windproof leggings and jacket, plus some extra food.

I carried a lightweight CamelBak Rim Runner hydration pack (with 2 qts water+ Accelerade) and jogged in Montrail Mountain Masochist trail running shoes, both items of which I have used for years and heartily recommend – though I need to renew my Montrails as 500+ miles has them pretty well worn now.

A thoroughly enjoyable outing that has inspired me to want to jog more mountain zone hiking/back packing trails in the future.

I’ll keep you posted.

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