OverviewCarlton Peak rises 924' above Lake Superior, making it one of the taller points on the edge of the lake. As part of the Sawtooth Range, it offers supreme views of the lake and the surrounding area. A nice short day hike suitable for any season. The peak is located in Temperance River State Park, and the Superior National Forest.
Getting ThereThe approach might actually be harder than the hike. When I climbed the peak in May 2010, I drove up to a trailhead on a dirt road on the south side of the peak. From the south, turn left on to a dirt road .8 miles past the bridge over the Temperance River. At .3 miles in stay right at a Y, and stay on the road (passing a gated road on the right about .7 miles in). After passing some signs saying you've entered the State Park, you get to an old quarry where the correct path becomes confusing. Basically, keep going up until you cant anymore, staying on the road that seems the most traveled. The road is quite rough in some spots, one guidebook said for high clearance vehicles only, but I did it in a minivan. After a storm, however, this may be a lot trickier. The trailhead is marked by a latrine and a signpost (not the latrine in a lower heavily quarried area).
From this trailhead, it is a pretty easy half mile, 300' gain, hike up a decent trail to the top.
Somewhere near the trailhead I've described above, the Superior Hiking Trail joins the trail from the south/east. An alternate start would be from the parking lot where the highway crosses the Temperance River, following the SHT, which I believe makes for about a 3 mile hike one way.
Another way to get there is from the SHT from the North. From downtown Tofte, take the Sawbill Trail (County Road 2/31) 2.5 miles from highway 61, to the Britton Peak parking lot on the right. From here it is about a one mile hike along the SHT to the top.
Red TapeThe peak is inside a state park, so if you want to park inside the park, its $5 for a daily pass.
Rock ClimbingWhile the hike to the top is a fairly easy class 1 hike, there are many class 5 climbing routes on the West and south sides of the peak.
The rock here is anorthosite and abraisive.
Rockclimbing.com is a good source for these. The only guidebook in print for the area is Rock Climbing Minnesota and Wisconsin, by Mike Farris. As far as I can tell, these two sources currently have the same route information, however, the guidebook has some nice pictures for finding the right route.
The entire North Shore region is a chalk-free zone and climbers should abide by this. Also, a free climbers permit is required, and can be obtained at the state park office.