Lake Carlos State Park

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.

Photo of the lower campground shoreline on the north shore of Lake Carlos.


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.


Photo of the park's boat ramp on the shoreline of Lake Carlos.


Boat Ramp

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.

Photo of the park amphitheatre seating and grassy stage.



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.

Photo of a camper cabin nestled in the woods.


Camper Cabin

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.

Photo of a shaded campsite in the park's upper campgrounds.


Upper Campground

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.

Photo of the sunny equestrian campground facilities.


Equestrian Campground

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.

Photo of the Pioneer Group camp facilities.


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.

Photo of the sandy swimming beach along the shore of Lake Carlos.


Swimming Beach

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.

Photo of the Lakeview Group Camp on the west side of Lake Carlos.


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.

Photo of the Hidden Lake Group Center buildings.


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.

Photo of the Hidden Lake Group Center structures and facilities.


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.

Photo of the sunny tamarack bog at Hidden Lake.


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.

Photo of the old fields on the Prairie Pothole Trail, which are now restored prairie.


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.

Photo of restored grasslands of Prairie Pothole Trail.


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.

Photo of wildflowers blooming in the restored prairie along Prairie Pothole Trail.


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.

Photo of the Maple-Basswood Interpretive Trail woodland signs.


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.

Photo of the interpretive trail winding through the maple-basswood forest.


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.

Photo of a view of Lake Carlos from the Wetland Overlook Trail.


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.

Photo of Long Prairie River Dam.


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.

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