Lake Carroll, Illinois, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Carroll.

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Lake Carroll visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Illinois - Northern -

Lake Carroll is a sparkling freshwater lake located in Carroll County, in the northwest corner of Illinois. This private body of water sits in the middle of an exclusive residential community nestled in the state’s Northern tourism region. Monitored and maintained by the Lake Carroll Association, it has a surface area of 636 acres and an average depth of 20 feet.

Conveniently situated just two hours from Chicago and 20 minutes from the Mississippi River, Lake Carroll offers a variety of year-round fun for visitors of all ages. Land activities include golfing, ATV cruising, snowmobiling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and hiking along 15 miles of designated trails. Water sports are equally as popular, particularly swimming and sailing. Other entertainment pursuits include boating, water skiing, and fishing. Anglers especially seek bluegill, gizzard shad, and brook silverside, as they are the most common species found in the lake; however, largemouth and smallmouth bass are also fair game.

A number of facilities are available for members at Lake Carroll, including an 18-hole golf course, campground, clubhouse, ski hill and tennis courts. For nature enthusiasts, a fish hatchery, aquarium, and local nature center — featuring stuffed specimens of local animals (don’t miss the full-grown bear) — are at visitors’ disposal. Camping enthusiasts take advantage of amenities like showers, playgrounds, and RV storage areas. Various boat launches and a small bait store make access to fishing resources easy for residents and their guests.

North of Lake Carroll you’ll find Castle Rock State Park, named for an enormous sandstone cliff on the Rock River. This river was originally called the “Sinnissippi,” or “rocky river,” by the first native inhabitants to occupy the area. The 710-acre Castle Rock Preserve was unofficially designated a protected zone back in 1921, but not technically declared so until 1978. Hunting, boating, and angling are fantastic at the park. Fishing along the riverbank yields abundant catfish, along with less copious bass, crappie, and walleye.

Twenty minutes west of Lake Carroll lies the Mississippi Palisades State Park, named for a series of dramatic cliffs lining the Mississippi River. This unique park is also characterized by its striking ravines and mysterious caves. An assortment of birds call the Palisades their home, like woodpeckers, wild turkeys, and eagles. Deer, skunk, badger, muskrat, red fox, and mink are just a few of the mammals to dwell in this isolated habitat. Boaters love the fact that the river has no engine limit; and fisherman adore the carp, catfish, bluegill, and bass commonly fished here. Additionally, 10 trails make up the reserve’s 15-mile hiking system — the most difficult being the precipitous southern loops. Less strenuous routes include the High Point Trail (3.5 miles) and the Aspen Trail (1.9 miles); the easiest walking paths are Ozzie’s point, Louis’ Point, and Lookout Point.

Just to the north of Mississippi Palisades State Park, about a 30 minutes from Lake Carroll, you’ll find one of the oldest parks in Illinois: the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. Composed of 240,000 acres of forest and wetlands, the refuge is home to numerous birds and aquatic plants and animals. Navigable pools created by eleven locks and dams maintain the vulnerable habitat belonging to these species and thousands of others. The park features three amazing hiking trails: the Great River State Trail (six miles) is an easy trek, perfect for walking, biking, and – during the winter – snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing; the Goose Island Interpretive Trail (one mile) stretches for a single, scenic mile; Sturgeon Slough (0.8 miles) is even shorter, but can become quite slippery after a hard rain.

Lake Carroll is the perfect place to enjoy nature at its finest. Gorgeous lakefront vacation rentals are just right for nature lovers looking for a respite from hectic city life. For those looking to extend their stay indefinitely, real estate property is also available. Outdoor enthusiasts should not miss out on the beauty, seclusion and tranquility unique to this Illinois treasure.

Custom Lake Carroll house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Carroll

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Carroll

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Gizzard Shad
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Shad
  • Silverside
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sturgeon
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Carroll

The Lake Carroll map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Lake Carroll photo gallery

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Lake Carroll statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Lake Carroll Association

Surface Area: 636 acres

Shoreline Length: 16 miles

Average Depth: 20 feet

Maximum Depth: 55 feet

Completion Year: 1974

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