One distinguishing characteristic of G. carolinensis is the fold of skin that runs across the head directly behind their eyes. This flap of skin can fold forward to remove insects that are attacking the eyes. Color varies depending on the habitat. They can range from light tan to brown, red, and even nearly black. They have a broad dark middorsal area with light strips that are commonly covered by patches, spots, and mottlings of dark or light pigment. The stomach is strongly mottled. They also lack a tympanum. The body of G. carolinensis is round with a narrow head that is sharp and pointed, and has a small mouth. There is sexual dimorphism in color. Males have a darkly pigmented throat whereas females do not. (Conant and Collins, 1998)
Tadpoles of G. carolinensis are black and have flecks of dark blue. They also may have a tan lateral line. The tailfins have dark specks on them, as well as dark tips (Bartlett, 1999).