Backpack to Lake Caroline in the Enchantments

Washington Eightmile Lake Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    5.75 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    3100 Feet

Forest
Lake
Scenic

Solitude in the Enchantments awaits. The Enchantments in Washington are well known for drawing a lot of people to them for their beauty and endless lakes. Lake Caroline is one of the less frequented lakes but the views are nothing short of spectacular.

From Leavenworth, WA head down Icicle Creek road and head to the Eightmile Lake Trailhead.

The backpack starts at roughly 3270 feet of elevation and the highest point of the hike is 6300 feet. To start you will hike through a very beautiful and forested area for a while before getting into a burn area. The climb will be pretty steady here. After about 1 mile you will reach the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

After about 2.8 miles you will reach a junction with a pond (Little Eightmile Lake) on your left of the trail. There's a bench here which is perfect for a little snack and a break to prepare for the climb ahead. If you continue straight, it goes to Eightmile Lake. Turn right at this junction and this is where the trail starts to climb dramatically. As you climb though, take a moment and realize the views you are witnessing of the mountain range behind you. Incredible.

You will continue switchbacking along this trail for a while and gaining elevation until the climbing eventually eases up as well as coming out of the burn area.

At about mile 5.5 you will basically be at the highest point of your hike at 6300 ft where you start descending back town to Lake Caroline and you can see the lake. Once descended, the trail meanders around the lake keeping it on your left. There are several camp sites all around the lake but they are limited. There is also a dedicated backcountry bathroom trail with sign posted for it. How nice and convenient.

A great day hike from here is up to Windy Pass. It's another two mile hike with some good elevation gain and you pass Little Caroline Lake along the way. The views on the way back down as you can see from the pictures are incredible of the Stuart Range.

NOTE: FEE Permits are required for overnight use and are issued via lottery. You can either apply ahead of time for the lottery or chance it at the Ranger Station in Leavenworth the day of your trip. If chancing it the day of, be at the ranger station as it opens to draw for a permit. Lake Caroline is in the Eightmile / Caroline zone and is not as heavily used as the other Enchantment zones so your chances for a permit here are better. You must have an account on recreation.gov to apply for a permit ahead of time. Click the following link for more information: wwww.sf.suda.gov.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Clothing and Rainwear
  • Sturdy Boots
  • Food and Snacks
  • Stove and Cooking Utensils
  • Water Filter/Purification
  • Camera
  • Fishing Pole and Bait
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Reviews

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While everyone scrambles for that Core permit or for Snow/Colchuck to be adjacent to the Core, the Caroline Zone sits quietly with much less attention being paid to it. The hike up to Lake Caroline is less well-maintained than other zones because it doesn't see the same foot traffic, but that's a fair price to pay for having more solitude out in these mountains. The views are phenomenal and there are great options to keep exploring further up trail once you've set up camp at Lake Caroline. Windy Pass is not to be missed! Note that the permit season for overnight stays in all Enchantments zones was extended in 2016 and a permit is now required May 15 through October 31.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Jarad Switzer

Colorado Native. Outdoor Enthusiast. Beer Love. Self-taught photographer who loves playing outside as much as possible.

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