Kelso River
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Nearest Entry Point: Sawbill Lake #38 Fishing: Unknown
Maps: Fisher F-5; McKenzie #21 River Depth: Unknown
Fire History: Logging as recent as the early 1960's
River Length: About 3.7 miles.
Campsites: None Wildlife Seen on Visit: None
Last Visited: October 8, 2019 River Elevation: Starts in marsh about 0.4 miles north of Lujenida Lake at about 1845 feet. Flows through Lujenida Lake at 1801 feet and Kelso Lake at 1801 feet. Mouth at Sawbill Lake at an elevation of 1787 feet. River drops 14 feet over 3.7 miles.
Water Clarity: N/A

ROUTES/PORTAGES FROM THE KELSO RIVER:
To Kelso Lake: Paddle In
To Lujenida Lake: Paddle In
To Sawbill Lake: Walk the 13 rod portage

Kelso River

Tofte Ranger District

The Kelso River starts in a marshy area about 0.4 miles north of Lujenida Lake. The section of the river north of Lujenida Lake is not navigable. The river flows into Lujenida Lake just to the east of the portage to Zenith Lake. After passing through Lujenida Lake, the river flows out its southern end. From Lujenida Lake downstream to Kelso Lake, the river passes through wide open areas of peat bog that provide nice views of the surrounding area. There are a few small islands scattered through the peat bog. It is along this stretch that you will likely encounter a beaver dam. A very small one was present just south of Lujenida Lake in 2019.

The Kelso River flows into the north end of Kelso Lake. The river flows out of Kelso Lake near its mid-section along the eastern shoreline. Kelso Lake has three campsites if you need to stop for the day. South of Kelso Lake the river is wider. The section of river nearest Kelso Lake is lined by fairly young forest. This area was logged as recently as the 1960's. There are three interesting boulders (glacial erratics most likely) next to each other along this early stretch of river just south of Kelso Lake. The river eventually comes to a prominent bend and turns in the direction of Sawbill Lake (east).

Through this last section, the river is again bounded by vast peat bogs. The Kelso River has its mouth at Sawbill Lake. The mouth is right next to the Sawbill Lake end of the portage.

The only portage along this river is an easy 13 rod portage into Sawbill Lake. There are no campsites along the river. Kelso River probably holds some northern pike and maybe a smallmouth bass or two as Kelso Lake contains these fish species.


Paddling the Kelso River

Routes to locations on the Kelso River are shown below:
Paddling the Kelso River downstream from Lujenida Lake to Kelso Lake
Paddling the Kelso River from Kelso Lake downstream to the Sawbill Lake portage
Paddling the Kelso River from Kelso Lake upstream to Lujenida Lake

PADDLING THE KELSO RIVER DOWNSTREAM FROM LUJENIDA LAKE TO KELSO LAKE

Kelso River 1
Small beaver dam just downstream of Lujenida Lake.


Kelso River 2
The Kelso River between Lujenida Lake and Kelso Lake.


Kelso River 3
Just upstream of the sharp bend through which the river breaks into several channels momentarily. The river goes to the left around that stand of pines you can see in the center of your view. Once south (downstream) from those trees, the river becomes a single channel again.


Kelso River 4
The Kelso River passes through a peat bog that has wide swaths of marsh grass. This is just to the north of Kelso Lake.


Kelso River 5
The mouth of the Kelso River at Kelso Lake. The view is looking to the south (downstream). You can pick up the Kelso River again where it exits Kelso Lake. Visit Kelso Lake.
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PADDLING THE KELSO RIVER FROM KELSO LAKE DOWNSTREAM TO THE SAWBILL LAKE PORTAGE

Kelso River 6
The Kelso River where it leaves Kelso Lake. This is looking toward the south (downstream).


Kelso River 7
West shoreline of the Kelso River. Three glacial erratics lined up along the shoreline. This is not far south of where the Kelso River flows out of Kelso Lake.



Paddling the Kelso River all the way from Kelso Lake to the Sawbill Lake portage. Late afternoon to early evening in autumn.


Kelso River 8
A view looking south along the Kelso River. In the far distance, the river makes a sharp left turn (just visible to far right of view).


Kelso River 9
Conspicuously large pine tree at the sharp bend. There are few large pine trees in this area because logging operations continued in this area until the mid-1960's.


Kelso River 10
Peat bog and marsh grasses along the south shore of the Kelso River just upriver from the Sawbill Lake portage.


Kelso River 11
Sunset view of the Kelso River from the Sawbill Lake portage. It looks rocky, but its actually a nice landing.
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PADDLING THE KELSO RIVER FROM KELSO LAKE UPSTREAM TO LUJENIDA LAKE


The entire paddle from Kelso Lake upstream to Lujenida Lake. The Kelso River along this stretch passes through peat bogs, meanders by a couple small islands and may be blocked by a beaver dam or two.
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Route Connections for Kelso River

From the Kelso River you can paddle into either Kelso Lake or Lujenida Lake. You can also portage into Sawbill Lake.

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