It’s not much of a lake. It’s only about 22 acres. Carlisle Lake used to be a mill pond for the Carlisle Lumber Company. The mill shut down in 1942 but the smoke stack from the mill is still standing on the site. It’s quite the landmark. David was very excited when we flew over it one day on our way back from Las Vegas because he could see the smokestack from the jet.
The lake has been stocked with trout since 1953, and Coho Salmon are raised in pens in the lake. It is a cute little lake, and perfect for a quick afternoon fishing trip or kayaking. We can stick our kayaks in the back of the pickup and be there in 20 minutes, then spend a few leisurely hours kayaking from one end to the other while Josh does catch-and-release fishing. Most of the fish that we have caught are small and bony but some people have caught larger fish.
There is a trail going all the way around the lake and people have made trails down to the water so you can fish from the bank and you don’t need a boat. It’s a great lake to take little kids to since it’s not only easy for them to fish, you can run them on the trail around the lake and tire them out.
Onalaska Alliance, a non-profit group, was formed to restore the lake and surrounding area. The previous owners, the Southwest Washington Development Association, donated the land, which measures 72 acres, to the group. The Alliance intends to develop it for better recreational use as well as an environmental education aid. This past summer they received a grant and paved the parking lot. It’s a fabulous upgrade because it used to be a pothole-filled gravel and dirt mess. They now plan to clean up the trail around the park. Future plans include a fishing dock and wheelchair accessibility.
Getting there: Take exit 71 off of I-5 and head east on Hwy. 508 for about eight miles. When you see the grocery store/gas station on your left you will take a left on the street right before the store. The street will take you about 2-3 blocks north and you will end up in the parking lot at Carlisle Lake. You can also look for the smokestack as you get into town.