Snapshot virtual tour
Welcome to the Lake Carlos State Park virtual tour! In this journey you'll check out a few of our favorite campsites and trails, and enjoy views of Lake Carlos swimming beach and picnic areas, the amphitheater and scenic woodlands, bogs and grasslands. We hope it prompts you to visit the park in person sometime soon.
Lower Campground Shoreline
The lower campground has an excellent view of the north shore of Lake Carlos. The water is deeper here, and posts along the shoreline are provided for park visitors to moor their boats on this sandy shore. The lower campground has 75 campsites - 59 with electricity—and is near the interpretive center, the boat ramp and the amphitheater.
Two wooden docks frame the concrete boat ramp that runs into the waters of Lake Carlos. Suitable for large boats and pontoons, this boat ramp is located on the north shore of the lake and is a great place for boaters and anglers to get on the water.
Benches curve in a semi-circle around a podium at the lakeside amphitheater. Naturalist programs, Sunday church services and other special programs are held here in the summer months.
A picnic table sits outside the wheelchair accessible camper cabin, which is backed by forest. Lake Carlos State Park has four year-round camper cabins, each with a screened-in porch, electricity and heat. Showers and modern toilets are available nearby for seasonal use; vault toilets are available off-season.
A shaded campsite in the upper campground is surrounded by forest and includes a picnic table and fire ring with grill. The upper campground is located in the northeast corner of the park, near the park office and the Pioneer Group Camp. The campground has 47 campsites, 22 of which have electric hook-ups.
Large tethering poles and a picnic table are arranged on this partially-shaded campsite in the equestrian campground in the northern part of the park. The campground provides access to the park's nine miles of horseback trails, and can accommodate up to 30 people in its seven campsites, each of which has a picnic table and fire ring.
Pioneer Group Camp
A ring of picnic tables sit around the fire ring in a clearing near the tenting area at the Pioneer Group Camp. The group camp is located in the northeast corner of the park and includes an open-sided shelter with electricity and water. This group camp has one electrical camping unit hook-up near the shelter building and two small parking lots.
The sandy swimming beach on Lake Carlos is shallow and perfect for families to relax and enjoy the water in the summer. The swimming beach has a beach volleyball court, picnic tables, and parking on site. The beach is conveniently located between the lower campground and the Lakeview Group Camp.
Lakeview Group Camp
The shelter building is surrounded by woods in the Lakeview Group Camp, located on the west side of Lake Carlos. The tent-only camping area accommodates up to 50 people. This area has flush toilets with hot and cold running water. Electricity and water are available at the picnic shelter, which is converted into a warming house in the winter.
Hidden Lake Group Center 1
The buildings of the Hidden Lake Group Center are nestled in the maple-basswood forest between Lake Carlos and Hidden Lake. The group center includes a dining hall, bunk houses, a staff building, a crafts building, and a shower building with modern toilets.
Hidden Lake Group Center 2
A short wooden staircase leads from a path down to Lake Carlos at the back of one of the group center buildings. The center can accommodate up to 60 people and can be reserved by calling the park.
Hidden Lake - Tamarack Bog
Less than a quarter mile away from Lake Carlos, hikers can get a glimpse of Tamarack Bog and Hidden Lake along the trail. Keep watch for the beaver, deer, loons, herons, and other wildlife that inhabit the park.
Prairie Pothole Trail Scene 1
A bench on the trail looks out onto the old fields along the Prairie Pothole Trail. The prairie here is being restored. Notice the difference between the old prairie in scene 1 and the restored prairies in scenes 2 and 3.
Prairie Pothole Trail Scene 2
The colorful native grasses are growing tall along the Prairie Pothole Trail in this scene. In the summer, this trail is a combined horseback riding and hiking trail. In the winter, the trail is groomed for snowmobile use and connected to the 500-mile Douglas Area Trail Association trail system.
Prairie Pothole Trail Scene 3
The wildflowers are blooming in the restored prairie along the Prairie Pothole Trail. These rolling hills were formed by ancient glaciers that left layers of gravel, sand, and ice, which melted to form the lakes that dot the park.
Interpretive Trail Scene 1
The Maple-Basswood Interpretive Trail winds through an area of old-growth forest. Signs along the trail explain the history and ecology of the area.
Interpretive Trail Scene 2
The interpretive trail bends to the left through the maple-basswood forest. This trail is a hiking trail in the summer and a cross-country ski trail in the winter.
Wetland Overlook Trail
Lake Carlos can be seen in this distance from this spot on the Wetland Overlook Trail. This trail begins near the park office and travels through the woods and prairies that cover the park.
Long Prairie River Dam
Water rushes over a small dam at the beginning of the Long Prairie River. An outlet at the northeast corner of Lake Carlos is the source of the river, which runs for 92 miles before converging with the Crow Wing River.