Lake Caroline, Eightmile Trailhead, Seattle: Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington

Lake Caroline - 10.2 miles

Eightmile Trailhead

Lake Caroline Lake (6,190')

Lake Caroline Lake (6,190')

Round-Trip Length: 10.2 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,307' - 6,190' (6,332' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,883' net elevation gain (+3,385' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Lake Caroline - 10.2 Miles Round-Trip

Lake Caroline (6,190') is located 5.1 miles from Eightmile Trailhead in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This medium-size lake sits just below treeline at the head of Pioneer Creek. The Eightmile Trail runs 2.65 miles to the Eightmile Trout Creek Trail, which splits NW on a steep, 2.45 mile climb to Caroline in the adjacent valley.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

It continues up to Little Caroline Lake and Windy Pass (7,200'), then down to the Trout Lake Trail. 

Lake Caroline falls within the Enchantment Permit Area, and camping permits are limited and regulated. 

A Recreation Pass is required to access this trailhead. See below for details on day-use and camping permits. Dogs are not permitted on trails to Eightmile Lake, Lake Caroline and Windy Pass.

Lake Caroline sees lighter use than nearby destinations such as Stuart, Colchuk and Nada lakes. It may not match their charisma, but the opportunity for solitude in this open landscape is highly compelling:

The trail rises steadily up a fire-scarred hillside to a bridge over Pioneer Creek (.7 miles : 3,840'), then moderates to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Boundary (1.1 miles : 3,910').

It shifts and undulates through diverse brush to Little Eightmile Lake and the Eightmile - Trout Creek Trail split (2.65 miles : 4,415'). Eightmile Lake is .6 miles and 226' up from this point, a worthwhile side trip.

The Eightmile - Trout Creek Trail turns sharply up a steep, fire-thinned slope with expanding views over Eightmile Lake and iconic peaks in the Enchantments. Switchbacks wind through silver snags and a recovering understory rife with flowers and grasses.

Grades moderate into a healthy subalpine forest and across open slopes to the top of the ridge (4.95 miles : 6,332'). The trail drops off the crest on fast switchbacks to Lake Caroline (5.1 miles : 6,190'). Timber limits access to just a few points, but the trail continues around and above to outcrops with views over the basin.

Little Caroline Lake is located .75 miles from LC. The main trail arcs around Lake Caroline to a crest, then undulates through a patchy subalpine forest to a signpost stating 'no stock within 200' of the lake' (5.8 miles).

This is the spur for Little Caroline. Bear left and follow it to the lake (5.85 miles : 6,272'). 

Little Caroline Lake lies in a broad, open basin ringed by flower and blueberry-filled meadows. Though the lake itself is small, the vicinity is fun to explore and arguably more attractive than it's larger namesake.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 32.160 W120 48.825 — 0.0 miles : Eightmile Lake Trailhead
  • N47 32.239 W120 49.434 — .55 miles : Trail rejoins itself at trail sign
  • N47 32.027 W120 49.857 — 1.1 miles : Alpine Lakes Wilderness Boundary
  • N47 31.803 W120 50.154 — 1.5 miles : Undulating travel through burn are
  • N47 31.646 W120 50.524 — 2.0 miles : Shifting path through brush
  • N47 31.493 W120 51.082 — 2.65 miles : Eightmile Lake - Lake Caroline split
  • N47 31.576 W120 51.323 — 3.15 miles : Steep, winding switchbacks
  • N47 31.771 W120 51.313 — 3.65 miles : Views open over Eightmile Lake
  • N47 31.984 W120 51.404 — 4,15 miles : Steep climb across thinned slope
  • N47 32.209 W120 51.596 — 4.65 miles : Moderate near top of ridge
  • N47 32.295 W120 51.803 — 4.95 miles : Crest on ridge over lake (6,332')
  • N47 32.377 W120 51.775 — 5.1 miles : Lake Caroline (6,190')
  • N47 32.662 W120 52.251 — 5.75 miles : Split for Little Caroline Lake
  • N47 32.629 W120 52.290 — 5.8 miles : Little Caroline Lake

Worth Noting

  • This trail can be hot! There's a good deal of southern exposure and very little shade along the way.

  • Fire is essential to this ecosystem by culling dead trees, controlling pests, clearing space for new growth and returning nutrients to the soil. Despite aesthetic losses many trees are unaffected, and grasses and flowers now thrive in newly opened glades and replenished soils.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Permits are required for all overnight stays from May 15 - October 31 in the Enchantment Permit Area. This includes Eightmile Lake and Lake Caroline.

  • From October 16 – June 14, free unlimited permits are available for camping in the Enchantment Permit Area.

The Enchantment Permit Area is divided into five permit zones:

  • Core Enchantment Zone
  • Snow Lake Zone
  • Colchuck Lake Zone
  • Stuart Lake Zone
  • Eightmile/Caroline Permit Zone

Camping is restricted to the zone for which your permit is issued. The only exception is for the Core Enchantment Permit, which allows you to camp in any of the zones.

All visitors are welcome to day hike beyond their zone, meaning those with a Snow or Colchuck Zone Permit may also visit the Core Enchantments, but on a day-use only basis.

There are three methods of obtaining an overnight permit during the permit season:

  1. Apply during the annual permit lottery.
  2. Make a reservation online after the pre-season lottery.
  3. Obtain a daily walk-in permit during the permit season

The Permit Lottery

  • A pre-season lottery is held in February through early March of each year to award the majority of permits.
  • Following the pre-season lottery, remaining permits are available on a first come, first served basis through the recreation.gov advance reservation system. A small number of permits are available on an unreserved daily walk-in basis at the Wenatchee Ranger Station in Leavenworth every morning during the permit season at 7:30 am (except Sundays).

Permit Fees, Rules and Restrictions

  • Permits are $5 per person, per day.
  • Permits are Non-Transferable.
  • Group Leaders cannot be changed.
  • Once a permit reservation is confirmed, no changes or additions may be made to the alternate group leader.
  • You must enter the permit area on the entry date shown on your permit.
  • You may camp only in the zone(s) indicated on your permit.
  • Maximum length of stay is 14 consecutive days. People may not exit and re-enter at a later date.

Violation of terms may result in a fine and/or revocation of the permit / early termination of your trip.

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • Group size is limited to 8 individuals or any combination of people and stock. All members of a permit group must camp together in one site.
  • Two (or more) groups on separate permits may not travel and/or camp together if the total number exceeds 8.
  • Groups must stay separate (minimum of 1 mile and 1 hour) and independent throughout their trip.
  • Campfires are prohibited above 5,000', and within 1/2 mile of all lakes and streams. Campfires are not permitted at Eightmile Lake and Lake Caroline.
  • Camp only in established campsites.
  • Bathe and wash dishes at least 150-200' from lakes and streams.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted throughout the Enchantment Permit Area (includes all lakes and streams) with a valid WA state fishing license.
  • Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for specific guidelines.
  • wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/

Email: [email protected]
Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460

Rules and Regulations

  • A valid Recreation Pass is required to access the Eightmile Trailhead ($5 day use fee | overnight use requires payment for two days).
  • Dogs are not permitted in the Enchantment Lakes Permit Area, including Nada Lake, the Snow Lakes, all Enchantment lakes, Colchuck Lake, Stuart Lake, Eightmile Lake and Lake Caroline.

Directions to Trailhead

The Eightmile Lake Trailhead is located 11.2 miles from Highway 2 in Leavenworth.

From Highway 2 on the west end of town, turn south on Icicle Creek Road. Drive 8.5 miles to Bridge Creek Campground. Turn left and drive past the campground, cross a bridge over Icicle Creek and continue 3 miles to the Eightmile Lake Trailhead. 

Park only in designated spaces, just across the road from the trailhead.

Contact Information

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Wenatchee River Ranger District
600 Sherbourne St.
Leavenworth, WA 98826
509.548.2550

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Headquarters
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801
509.664.9200

Trip Reports

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