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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Trail Running Shoes – Salomon Sense Ride 2
Hat – Patagonia Duckbill Cap
Sunglasses – Smith Lowdown Chromopop
Music – Aftershokz Trekz Titanium
Running Watch – Garmin Forerunner 945
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Happy hiking! Check out these other great trails in Truckee:
✔️ PCT from Boreal to Old 40
✔️ Martis Valley
Former park ranger turned writer/marketer. Always down for a sufferfest, as long as it ends with ice cream. Favorite activities include backcountry skiing, trail running, and backpacking.