Alton Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Sawbill Lake #38 Fishing: MN DNR; Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Rock Bass; (Fish Consumption Advisory)
Maps: Fisher F-5; McKenzie #20, McKenzie #21 Lake Depth: MN DNR; 72 feet
Fire History: 1863 and 1864. Also 1875. Logging as late as the early 1960's
Lake Size: 969 acres
Campsites: 16;
Campsite 1, Campsite 2
Wildlife Seen on Visit: Bald Eagle
Last Visited: October 8, 2019 Lake Elevation: 1802 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR

ROUTES/PORTAGES FROM ALTON LAKE:
To Beth Lake: Walk the 140 rod portage
To Kelso Lake: Walk the 11 rod portage
To Sawbill Lake: Walk the 30 rod portage
To Wonder Lake: Walk the 200 rod portage

Alton Lake

Tofte Ranger District

ALTON LAKE CAMPSITES:
Campsite 1: Middle of the three campsites along east shore north of the Sawbill Lake portage
Campsite 2: First campsite along east shore south of the Sawbill Lake portage

Alton Lake is a large clear lake about three miles long and half a mile wide in spots. High hills rise up above the west side of the lake. Another hill dominates the southwest corner of the lake rising to over 2100 feet (over 300 feet above the lake).

Four routes pass through Alton Lake making it sort of a crossroads. To the south is a dead end route to Wonder Lake. Wonder Lake is at the southern edge of the BWCA. To the west can be found the Lady Chain of Lakes. These lakes are Beth, Ella, Grace and Phoebe. This route follows the Phoebe River over to Polly Lake. To the north is Kelso Lake. The portage to Kelso Lake from Alton Lake is easy. There is some remants of an old railroad track that was used during the logging area along this portage. From Kelso Lake you can paddle the Kelso River to the east into Sawbill Lake or follow it north to Lujenida Lake. From Lujenida Lake it's a long 480 rod portage up to Zenith Lake. Lastly, to the east it's a short portage into Sawbill Lake. This portage is not far from BWCA Entry Point 38 on Sawbill Lake.

Alton Lake supports many species of fish, but not lake trout.

This area was logged as recently as the 1960's. It was part of the West Tofte (Heinselman) sale. The sale was to the St. Regis Paper Company in 1959.


Exploring Alton Lake

Routes to locations on Alton Lake are shown below:
Paddling from the Sawbill Lake portage to the first campsite south of it along the east shore
Paddling from the Sawbill Lake portage to the second campsite north of it along east shore
Paddling from second campsite north of Sawbill Lake portage north to Kelso Lake portage

PADDLING FROM THE SAWBILL LAKE PORTAGE TO THE FIRST CAMPSITE SOUTH OF IT ALONG THE EAST SHORE

Alton Lake 1
Alton Lake from the Sawbill Lake portage. Your view is to the west. This view is in the morning in autumn.



Paddling south from the Sawbill Lake portage to an unmarked portage on a point. This is the long point on the east side of the lake south of the Sawbill Lake portage. There is an unmarked portage across this narrow point. This portage would be useful during periods of high winds and big waves (the point provides a lot of protection from the wind and waves depending on what side of it you are on).


Alton Lake 2
View of the tip of the long point along the east shore of the lake. This is looking west from the north side of the point.



Paddling around the long point. Starting on north side of the point at the unmarked portage, you paddle around the end of the point and then to the other end of the unmarked portage (south end/south side of point). The entire portage itself is only about 5 rods long.



Paddling from the south side of the long point (location of south end of unmarked portage) to the first campsite south of the Sawbill Lake portage located along the eastern shore of Alton Lake.


Alton Lake 3
View toward the southwest from the campsite.
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PADDLING FROM THE SAWBILL LAKE PORTAGE TO THE SECOND CAMPSITE NORTH OF IT ALONG EAST SHORE


Eastern shoreline just north of the Sawbill Lake portage. View is to the north. (Image not expandable)



The first point north of the Sawbill Lake portage. This is on the east side of Alton Lake. (Image not expandable)


Alton Lake 4
Small island along the east side of the lake. There are many underwater boulders in this area so keep an eye of for them.



A moderately rough paddle on a windy day from the Sawbill Lake portage northward up the east shoreline. The final destination is the middle of the three campsites along that stretch.



Picking your way through shallow water and boulders between the eastern shoreline and the small island on your left. (Image not expandable)


Alton Lake 5
This is the middle campsite along the eastern shoreline north of the Sawbill Lake portage.
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PADDLING FROM SECOND CAMPSITE NORTH OF SAWBILL LAKE PORTAGE NORTH TO KELSO LAKE PORTAGE


Sizeable waves near the point that forms the east side of the bay where the Kelso Lake portage is located. Wind is from the south at about 30 miles per hour. (Image not expandable)



Difficult paddling in the north end of Alton Lake. The wind is from the south and its probably around 30 miles per hour at times. This paddle takes you from the campsite to the Kelso Lake portage.



Distant view of the Kelso Lake portage (dead center) from out in the bay. (Image not expandable)
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Route Connections for Alton Lake

From Alton Lake, you can portage into Beth Lake, Kelso Lake, Sawbill Lake and Wonder Lake.

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