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Lake Carlos State Park 

Lake Carlos State Park is located in the Heartland region of Minnesota near Alexandria.

Lake Carlos State Park

How to Get to Lake Carlos State Park: Drive 10 miles north of Alexandria on State Highway 29, then 2 miles west on Highway 38 to the park entrance.

Park Highlights:

  • The 1,231 acres of the park encompass tamarack bog, open grasslands, hardwood-forested hills, and several lakes 
  • Lake Carlos is located right in the heart of “Minnesota’s Playground,” the Central Lakes Area. That makes this one of the busier state parks. Year-round interpretive programs are an attraction for many. Just a few topics of the naturalist programs include: animal tracking, geocaching, birding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and winter candlelight events. 

Lake Carlos’s Natural Attractions: The lake for which the park is named, as well as other hidden lakes throughout the park, offers recreation in and on the water. More than 25 species of Minnesota mammals, as well as 150 species of birds, inhabit this park at some time during the year. You might see beaver, deer, loons, grebes, ducks, heron, and much more.

Things to Do in Lake Carlos State Park: Swim at the sandy beach, and enjoy the nearby picnic area and volleyball court. Drive-in boat access to Lake Carlos and carry-in boat access to Hidden Lake provide good fishing and boating. Just outside the northeast side of the park, you will find the Lake Carlos Marina, where you can rent fishing boats and pontoons.

The 14 miles of hiking trails through woodlands and prairie offer opportunities for bird watching. There are 3 miles of self-guided interpretive trail that begins at Hidden Lake, and there are 9 miles of horse trails.

In winter, you will find 5 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and 9 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Snowshoeing is permitted, except on groomed trails. The partially enclosed picnic shelter serves as a warming house in winter.

Camping in Lake Carlos State Park: There are 121 campsites between the lower and upper campgrounds; 81 sites have electrical hookups. A horse camp with 7 campsites can accommodate up to 30 people. Two group sites accommodate from 35 to 50 campers. The Hidden Lake Group Area accommodates up to 60 people and includes a dining hall, two bunk houses, a crafts building, showers, and toilets. Call the park to reserve. There are also 4 year-round camper cabins available to reserve in advance. 

More Attractions in This Region: Visit Alexandria and stop in at the Runestone Museum to learn about the claim that the Vikings discovered America. Other attractions include Fort Alexandria and the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum.

Other State Parks in This Region of Minnesota: Glacial Lakes State Park > Glendalough State Park > Maplewood State Park


2601 County Road 38 Northeast
Carlos, MN 56319
Phone: 320-852-7200

Lake Carlos State Park

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