Carter Lake Trail is a hike near Moose Pass that leads you to a small lake nestled in the Kenai Mountains.
At a total distance of 3.4 miles roundtrip, this hiking trail is a great option for a quick day hike. If you want to go on a longer hike, I recommend continuing along the trail to Crescent Lake.
In this guide, I’m going to share what you need to know to hike Carter Lake Trail near Moose Pass.
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Hike Carter Lake Near Moose Pass, Alaska
- Carry bear spray
- Parking is free
- Combine with Crescent Lake
- Bring a towel
When is the Best Time to Hike Carter Lake?
The best time of the year to hike Carter Lake is from late June to October. It’s also a popular trail for mountain bikers in early summer and skiers in the winter. This trail does get overgrown, so it’s usually better to hike in mid-summer.
How to Get to Carter Lake in Anchorage:
- From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway
- Continue to Mile 34 on the Seward Highway
- A parking lot can be found on the right side of the highway
Carter Lake Trailhead
The Carter Lake trailhead can be found at Mile 34 along the Seward Highway near Moose Pass.
The parking area is not too big and may become full if the weather is really nice. So, plan accordingly.
A Steep Climb
You start hiking through the spruce forest as you climb nearly 1,000 feet over the next mile. You’ll be glad when you get most of the elevation gain out of the way.
I rated this trail as easy because it’s quite short, but some people may rate it as moderate due to the elevation gain.
Later in the summer, this trail can become overgrown. There’s a lot of cow parsnip and devil’s club that grow along narrow sections of the trail.
Fields of Wildflowers
The trail starts to flatten out as you pass boardwalks and small streams. Upon first sightings of the lake, you’ll find a small trail to your left that will lead you to the shore.
After stopping here to take in the views, you can continue along the singletrack to the other end of the lake.
I hiked this trail in early August and went through a huge field of Alaskan wildflowers! I saw fireweed, monkshood, and more! It was so beautiful.
It takes about 1 hour to hike to the lake from the trailhead. The trail is 3.4 miles roundtrip and gains about 1,000 feet in elevation.
It’s a great place to go for a swim. Since it’s a smaller lake, the water feels a little bit warmer.
Beyond Carter Lake
You can continue to hike to Crescent Lake, which is only an additional 1.5 miles further. Crescent Lake is much larger and there are some great areas to camp or enjoy lunch.
You can also thru-hike the traverse that takes you along the Primitive Trail between Crescent Creek Trail and Carter Lake Trail.
There are two public use cabins along this route, including Crescent Lake Cabin, and Crescent Saddle Cabin.
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Do you have any questions about hiking to Carter Lake near Moose Pass? Leave them in the comments below.