This hike is one of the new hikes made possible by the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s purchase of a large portion of land in Royal Gorge.; the hike is described in detail on here. As the acquisition is very recent, at the time of writing, there is no signage to direct hikers on the trails. We recommend the use of a GPS; you can use the track above as a reference. This is an area in which it is easy to get lost.
There are three trailheads (please refer to the map). The Southernmost trailhead is what will one day become the official trailhead, once the Truckee Donner Land Trust finishes the construction work; for the time being, it is unreachable by car. The middle trailhead is perhaps the best one right now, as it allows for cutting the loop hike slightly shorter (just cut straight from the trailhead to the provided track). We happened to use the upper trailhead, but the middle one would have been best.
If starting from the middle trailhead, hike out perpendicular to the road. You will soon read a 4-way junction, and continuing straight, the Claim Jumper trail of the Royal Gorge cross-country ski system. Follow Claim Jumper until you approach a small lake (which may not be clearly visible from the path). Keep right at both closely-spaced junctions there. Continue, taking right at the first fork, and then continuing straight at the following 4-way fork. This map is very useful.
You will soon arrive at the crest, where you will have a marvelous view over the wide upper basin of the American River. Follow the crest, first down to a small saddle, then up past a two-humped rise that is the highest point of the hike. Continue along the crest, and you will finally arrive at Rowton Peak, whose summit is marked by a large rock pile.
From Rowton Peak, change direction 90 degrees to the right, following the descending broad crest along a very pleasant path, until you meet a dirt road that, with a couple of switchbacks, will lead you to a nice meadow first, and back to the asphalted road and the trailheads.