Rowton Peak Loop - Run or Hike in Royal Gorge

Rowton Peak Loop

A short but sweet run or hike in Royal Gorge.

Rowton Peak sits above Serene Lakes in the Royal Gorge property. It’s a quick hike or run up to the peak via the most direct route and there are many interwoven cross country ski trails if you want to add on some mileage. I choose to run this loop and it made for a short, steep trail run, great for hill repeats or to just add a short burst of vert. Not a runner? No problem! This loop but would also make a great hike, especially for families looking to get some views without covering tons of miles. Just make sure to bring a map!

Trail Stats

Distance – 3 mile loop

Elevation Gain – 800 feet

Difficulty – Moderate

Trailhead Location and Parking – The parking area for this hike is the Hoelter Hall trailhead, located on Soda Springs Rd. just south of Serene Lakes, just before the road changes from pavement to dirt. Park in the small lot and continue to the Tiny Tim Trail.

Trail Description

From the parking lot, continue straight ahead onto the main trail and turn right onto Tiny Tim. Once you start up Tiny Tim, the trail starts ascending. The trail is short and steep, gaining 800 feet to the summit in a short amount of time. I took Tiny Tim to the Rowton Peak trail which follows a ridge that opens up to gorgeous views of Royal Gorge and into the North Fork of the American River drainage.

Dried out Mules Ears on the last push to the summit.

The Rowton trail is well graded although steep in spots, like on the final climb to the summit which sits at 7480 feet. Once you start to gain the ridge, you climb out of the trees and get sweeping views of Royal Gorge and the North Fork of the American River drainage.

Snow Mountain and Devils Peak in the distance.

You’ll reach the summit quickly on this route. From the top, look around and take in the panoramic views. You can see Castle Peak, Snow Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Crows Nest, and more. This is one of my favorite views on the summit.

From there I took the Walter and Ester Hewlett Royal Gorge Rim Trail down and followed it back to Tiny Tim instead of hopping back on Bogus Basin. The single-track trail winds back and forth down the mountain which makes for fun trail running. Before you pop back into the trees, you’ll be treated to some lovely filtered views of Castle Peak.

Castle Peak in the distance.

As you keep going, you’ll cross over Bogus Basin and the trail flattens out. Along the lower section of this trail, there is a beautiful view of Serene Lakes. There are even a couple benches above the trail where you can sit, take a breather, and take in the lakes.

A great view of Serene Lakes from the trail.

There are lots of trails in this area so I would highly recommend having a map with you. I use Gaia on my phone, which I love for short runs like this when I don’t have to worry about my phone battery dying. You can make this run or hike much longer if you wanted. Simply follow the ridge out towards Crows Nest and explore!

Map generated with Caltopo

My Gear

Trail Running Shoes – Salomon Sense Ride 2

Hat – Patagonia Duckbill Cap

Sunglasses – Smith Lowdown Chromopop

Music – Aftershokz Trekz Titanium

Running Watch – Garmin Forerunner 945

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Tahoe Mountain Sports will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate commissions help fund the content for this blog.

Happy hiking! Check out these other great trails in Truckee:
✔️ Sawtooth
✔️ PCT from Boreal to Old 40
✔️ Martis Valley
✔️ JP’s

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