Another BWCA route suggestion

Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
25
Location
TC, Michigan
Good evening everyone.

it’s been a while since I’ve spoke up on here, but I knew this was the place to ask my question. Since the Canadian border is still closed I’ve been looking at doing a summer/early fall paddle trip in Boundary Waters. Looking at a few loops, mostly near the Gunflint trail, but some near or NE of Ely,MN. I have an old map of BWCA/Quetico that I found at an antique store. The map has Lac La Croix/ Agnes lk. Nina Moose river etc. I thought it’d be pretty cool to paddle a section since that map has been hanging in our house for close to four years. It does look like some larger lake sections, which isn’t really a problem, but smaller lakes/rivers are more ideal.

anyone have suggestions of some good routes?

details to point out. Coming into the park from the East. Prefer seclusion and solitude. Portages aren’t a problem. Ideally small lakes and rivers. Scenery is high on the list. And the wife wants animal life, I think she means more than raccoons, and other small ubiquitous critters. And we have about 5 days to do this.

looking forward to what everyone has to say
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2018
Messages
148
Location
Blairsville, PA (about 30 mi E of PGH)
I'll be making my first trip (10 day solo) to the BW this Spring and (disclaimer: I have no idea if this is the best way but...) I've done most of my planning by reading route descriptions in Robert Beymer's books http://canoecountry.com/books/beymer.htm, looking at campsite/portage descriptions on Paddleplanner https://www.paddleplanner.com/tools/maps/bwcamap.aspx# and, once I had a pretty firm idea of where I'd like to go, by asking specific questions of the local outfitters. So far, everyone I've talked to has been extremely helpful and (I think) all the outfitters can assist you with planning if you would like.

There are also lots of folks on here with experience and quite a few trip reports have been posted. Best of luck with planning and enjoy your trip.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
25
Location
TC, Michigan
Gamma. Thank you for your response and the links. I plan on calling outfitters this week to pick their brains and, fingers crossed, see if there’s a UL canoe for sale hiding in their shop.

I look forward to more experienced and adventurous paddlers on here giving their two cents.

hope you enjoy your trip, be safe and have fun.
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
946
Location
Pickwick, MN
At this point depending on timing may be very dependent on where you can get a permit for. If the border is not open avoid entry points that have access to or are close to the border, the permit quotas were not changed to account for folks all having to stay on the mn side so those are there areas that were most crowded last year. Might want to consider Sawbill, Kawishiwi or Brule lake entry points.
 
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Joined
Mar 17, 2016
Messages
490
Location
Hoosier State
Tom McCann did a presentation at Canoecopia of the 94 mile 'Circle Route' which included a 'lost' portage and looked interesting. I think you can still buy tickets and watch the 'canned' presentation. The title was: 'History Repeats Itself: 100 Years By Paddle and Portage'.
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
700
Location
Livingston, Montana
Seclusion and solitude are hard to find in the BWCA. I agree with BWCA66 that the border area will be very busy and you should probably look towards the southern entry points. There are exceptions, but my experience is that it takes 2 good days of paddling to reach seclusion and after that you are just paddling closer to another entry point. Most people these days are doing the paddle in one day or half a day and base camp thing. If that's your plan you may have more issues with finding campsites, especially at the popular entry points. The further in you go, the less that will be the case.

I'll throw out a specific suggestion. One lesser used entry point that I've enjoyed is Homer Lake #40. It's very near the Brule Lake entry which is much more popular. I like the area because there are a number of moderate sized lakes and channels to explore. And, the best thing about it is that it can be done as a loop trip. You put in at Homer lake, spend your days exploring and camping out towards Pipe Lakes, then doing some paddling down the Vern River, where you can do any number of portages until the portage trails run out. Then you travel north on Vern and portage to Juno Lake, travel east and portage to big Brule Lake. On Brule, paddle to and past the entry point then south-southwest all the way to the end of the small bay which may look like a stream and another lake, but it's all connected. At the end of the bay there used to be a lodge and you just portage the gear up to the road from there. The road walk back to the car at the Homer entry point is less than a mile south.

The campsites aren't the best I've used in the Boundary Waters, but if it's just the two of you they will be fine. My trip was a leisurely 3 days, but I could have spent 5 if I had paddled around and camped on Brule. It was springtime, but I saw 3 sets of cow/calf moose and 2 other lone moose for a total of 10 Moose!

Mark
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
173
Location
Clayton NY
Tom McCann did a presentation at Canoecopia of the 94 mile 'Circle Route' which included a 'lost' portage and looked interesting. I think you can still buy tickets and watch the 'canned' presentation. The title was: 'History Repeats Itself: 100 Years By Paddle and Portage'.

I haven't yet seen this - have registered and watched many - but its a route I have wanted to do. 10 -12 days I think. I was going to start at hog creek, west to Bald Eagle, consider the Clearwater to Lake Two or go up , and east and out Kawishiwi. Walk to car st Hog Creek. This of course skips the lost portage. Have done half or so. Great route.
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
946
Location
Pickwick, MN
I haven't yet seen this - have registered and watched many - but its a route I have wanted to do. 10 -12 days I think. I was going to start at hog creek, west to Bald Eagle, consider the Clearwater to Lake Two or go up , and east and out Kawishiwi. Walk to car st Hog Creek. This of course skips the lost portage. Have done half or so. Great route.

The portage from Clearwater to lake two was abandoned by the forest service a few years back so I'm guessing it's in pretty bad shape. I have twice in high water gone down the creek out of clearwater through pagami into lake one. Some bushwhacking but a lot of fun.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2015
Messages
3,749
Location
Iowa
The portage from Clearwater to lake two was abandoned by the forest service a few years back so I'm guessing it's in pretty bad shape. I have twice in high water gone down the creek out of clearwater through pagami into lake one. Some bushwhacking but a lot of fun.

My very first BWCA trip, was through Clear water, and out to Lake Two. Wonder why they abandoned that portage ?
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
946
Location
Pickwick, MN
My very first BWCA trip, was through Clear water, and out to Lake Two. Wonder why they abandoned that portage ?

Don't know, they made it part of a PMA so all 3 portages between clearwater and lake two aren't maintained and the campsite on Rock Island was taken out.
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
173
Location
Clayton NY
For five days and thinking Moose Lake permits should be available: Moose, Birch, Carp, Knife, Bonnie, Spoon, Pickle, Strup, Wisini, Gerund, Fraser. Then depending on timing, stretch east to Roe, Boulder, Adams, River, Fishdance, and Alice. Not so much time, from Fraser to Thomas, Alice, and Insula and west to Lake One for a shuttle back to Moose. Start from park at CCO base on Moose, and get them to shuttle you from Lake One. Roe, Boulder etc is probably optimistic but not undoable and pretty area.

My 2 cents.
 

Zac

Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
103
Location
Duluth MN / Wausau WI
Last year was the busiest year ever for the BWCA from what I understand. This year will probably be nearly as busy. Last year was the first year in many that I did not spend a night in the wilderness area. I did spend a few nights on a few lakes just south of the wilderness area in the national forest and never once saw another watercraft on the water with me. I did give directions to no less than 3 groups who were trying to find BWCA entry points and saw me at landings.

It would surprise me if there are any permits available for Moose Lake before September. You don't want to go there, anyway. On recreation.gov you can view how many permits are available for every entry and that should give you an idea of how crowded it will be. I have done the Homer/Brule loop before and it made for a nice, relaxing 5 day trip. IMO the scenery is better closer to the border and farther onto the "shield" with the southern parts being swampier. I would suggest looking to the unit east of the Gunflint, out of Poplar, Clearwater, East Bearskin or the Fowls for the scenery, or an in-and-out via Saganaga and Ottertrack. However, my #1 suggestion would be to the far west, using that old map you have. There are plenty of options out of LIS North or Moose River North for a 5 day trip, and I hear this area has not attracted the Covid crowds as much as others.

Zac
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
946
Location
Pickwick, MN
Yeah, avoid Moose unless the border opens. Went there last year and all over was a zoo because everyone had to stay in MN. Probably the busiest area until the border opens.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
25
Location
TC, Michigan
Shoot! I wasn’t expecting so many awesome stories and comments. That’s awesome. As I mentioned above, we were looking mainly in two areas. Wanting to paddle fun lakes and rivers, were initially looked at a loop starting in Poplar, and navigating our way into Winchell- and returning N to NE back into Poplar.

After we looked at paddleplanner.com the wife fell in love with the Nina Moose river to Agnes- Oyster to Gebeonequet and back. Rather than try to disagree, I naturally agreed that was the route. (Happy wife. Happy life)

When we first started dating she was terrified of open water, especially propelled by our own endurance. So this is good.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
25
Location
TC, Michigan
To all of you who have chimed in and face advice. Two cents. And areas to avoid, i appreciate it. I’m a huge fan of this site for that very reason. Years of knowledge. Expertise. Trial and error. Maintenance. The help. And the enjoyment and passion.

I know this trip will be fun for us, even if it is busy. Fingers crossed it’s not... any time on the water is great. Especially when it’s to get away from the speed of the day to day grind. The annoyances and frustrated people who can’t slow down. And to disappear somewhere that is so serine it makes you aware of where you are
 

Zac

Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
103
Location
Duluth MN / Wausau WI
Glad you found a route! Should be a good one, no big water and plenty of sights. Should be able to find some fish, too. Not sure if you're looking to fish. I believe there are walleye pike and bass in every lake on your route except Oyster, which will have lake trout. That late in the summer you'll find walleyes on mid lake humps, depth depending on water temp. Leaches are best that time of year because they are easier to keep alive. For trout just troll a spoon as deep as you can over deep water.

This site is a good one. We don't get many bwca questions like bwca.com does, but when we do we are allowed to say "hey check out bwca.com and paddleplanner.com." I get frustrated with the swarms of newbies over there always asking for route advice... the best advice is to just pick one and go for it! Most beginners tend to over think route planning. Remember, campsites might be full and you will be forced to change your plans regardless of how well you made them. Another good idea for the bwca is always to break camp early and pick a site early, before they fill up. Put on as many miles as you can the first day. Not sure how your gear setup is, if you're looking to add anything from a stove to a tent to a canoe look around this site as there is plenty of discussion on those topics with many different styles and opinions. Enjoy the trip!

Zac
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
946
Location
Pickwick, MN
So I just secured the Weasel lake PMA permit for May 13th, going to go check out if you can still get from lake two to clearwater via rock island. Be interesting to see if the portages are passable at all.
 
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