One of the lesser-visited lakes in the Enchantments, Lake Caroline is a hard-earned reward for those seeking a bit of solitude in this immensely popular region.
From the Eightmile Lake trailhead, the trail ascends steadily through a burn area before entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness at 1 mile. The grade eases a bit as the trail follows along Eightmile Creek. At 2.8 miles, just after Little Eightmile Lake, is a signed trail junction. To reach Lake Caroline, take the trail to the right. (The trail straight ahead makes its way to Eightmile Lake.)
The trail continues climbing, steeply now, through the brushy recovering burn area. Be prepared with sun protection and plenty of water as the trail switchbacks upward. The views increasingly improve as you climb, with the Stuart Range and the Enchantment peaks coming into view. After crossing a few small streams at 4 miles, the grade eventually relaxes as the surrounding landscape transitions to unburnt forest and then to meadows.
Cresting a high point at 5.5 miles, the forested trail now drops steeply for a quarter mile to the shores of Lake Caroline.
Nestled in a basin between Eightmile Mountain and Cashmere Mountain, Lake Caroline is a peaceful place to soak your feet while you soak in the sun. Dayhikers will want to enjoy the lake’s shore before returning the way they came. Lake Caroline does make for a great overnight destination, but you will still need permits since it’s in the Enchantments area.
Those camping at the lake might wish to explore the high country more by continuing on the trail for another 2.3 miles to Windy Pass. From here, stellar views of the surrounding mountain peaks will take your breath away.
WTA Pro Tip: Overnight trips to Lake Caroline between May 15 and Oct. 31 require an Enchantments
permit. Go to recreation.gov/permits/233273 for information.