Kelso Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage South, 10 rods, to Alton
  • Portage North, down the Kelso River, to Lujenida
  • Paddle Southeast, up the Kelso River, towards Sawbill



  • DNR Lake No. 160706
  • Lake Map No. C0289
  • Lake Table No. 9C
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality - N/A
Kelso Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Kelso is a long and narrow lake on the Kelso River just to the north of Alton. One and a half miles north to south, its 97 acres have a maximum depth of but 16'. The Kelso River enters at the north end, exiting along the western shore on its way down to Sawbill. About a mile to the northwest rises the 2100' summit of Kelso Mountain.


Kelso supports three designated campsites, two in the north end and one in the south, near the portage south into Alton.

Planning Considerations

Kelso Lake and the Kelso River provide access to one of the few north/south routes through the region, linking the Sawbill/Alton area to the upper end of the Louse River watershed and through Hub, to the Frost River country beyond. Paddling out of the north end of Kelso brings an abrupt, but welcome, transition from the large and popular lakes to the south to the more rugged and lightly traveled backcountry.


Kelso supports populations of Northern Pike (Esox lucius), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).

Notes and Comments

Kelso Lake and River offer one of the most accessible opportunities to experience the boreal bog at close hand. Even visitors staying on Alton or Sawbill, with no intentions of portaging into the backcountry, would do well to paddle up the Kelso.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004