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 (6 visited) Wildlife Seen on Visit: Bald Eagle, Waterfowl
Last Visited: May 16, 2021;
Previous Visit(s): October 8, 2019
Lake Elevation: 1802 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR

ROUTES/PORTAGES FROM ALTON LAKE:
To Beth Lake: Walk the 142 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: (#867) - Middle of the three campsites along east shore north of the Sawbill Lake portage
Campsite 2: (#849) - First campsite along east shore, south of the Sawbill Lake portage
Campsite 3: (#844) - South end of lake west of peninsula near Wonder Lake portage
Campsite 4: (#843) - Second campsite along east shore, that is south of the Sawbill Lake portage
Campsite 5: (#850) - Third campsite along east shore, that is south of the Sawbill Lake portage
Campsite 6: (#847) - South most campsite along east shore of Alton Lake

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, Phoebe and Polly. 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. The portage between Alton Lake and Sawbill Lake also used to have a logging era railway. The reason it is so flat and wide.

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 sale (Heinselman). 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 south along east shore to the Wonder Lake portage
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 Wonder Lake portage to Campsite #849 (first site south of Sawbill Lake portage on east shore)

Click on the photos below to see the full resolution image - Use your browsers back button to close photo and return to this page.

PADDLING FROM THE SAWBILL LAKE PORTAGE SOUTH ALONG EAST SHORE TO THE WONDER LAKE PORTAGE

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


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 south from the Sawbill Lake portage along the eastern shoreline of Alton Lake. Stop briefly along the way a each campsite on this side of Alton Lake. Reach the Wonder Lake portage on the south end of Alton Lake


Alton Lake 3
The beginning of the Wonder Lake portage.
Portage to Wonder Lake -or- Explore Another Route
***********************************************END OF ROUTE***********************************************


PADDLING FROM THE SAWBILL LAKE PORTAGE TO THE SECOND CAMPSITE NORTH OF IT ALONG EAST SHORE

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.
Visit the Campsite -or- Explore Another Route
***********************************************END OF ROUTE***********************************************


PADDLING FROM SECOND CAMPSITE NORTH OF SAWBILL LAKE PORTAGE NORTH TO KELSO LAKE PORTAGE


Alton Lake map1Difficult 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.
Portage to Kelso Lake -or- Explore Another Route
***********************************************END OF ROUTE***********************************************


PADDLING FROM THE WONDER LAKE PORTAGE TO CAMPSITE #849


Starting at the Wonder Lake portage. From there, paddle north along the eastern shoreline of Alton Lake. A modest thunderstorm approaches from the southwest. Pull off the lake at Campsite #849 to wait until the storm eases off a bit.


Alton Lake 15
Alton Lake looking to the south from BWCA Campsite 849. This is the first campsite you'll come to if you head south from the Sawbill Lake portage along the eastern shoreline.
Visit Campsite #849 -or- Explore Another Route
***********************************************END OF ROUTE***********************************************

Route Connections for Alton Lake

From Alton Lake, you can portage into Beth Lake, Kelso Lake, Sawbill Lake and Wonder Lake. Sunhigh Lake is also accessible beyond Wonder Lake by paddling up Plouff Creek.

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