BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

August 17 2017

Entry Point 16 - Moose/Portage River (North of Echo Trail)

Moose/Portage River (north) entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by La Croix Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 27 miles. Access is a 160-rod portage heading North from the Echo Trail.

Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1348 feet
Latitude: 48.1230
Longitude: -92.0991
A favorite route offering many trip options and memorable things to see including;

World Class fishing for all four BWCA Species
Pictographs
Soaring granite hills and cliffs
Small lakes
Small rivers
Tumbling rapids and waterfalls
Wildlife, including Moose
Vistas from high points across the region if you're willing to climb. Rating Easy to Moderate. Day One. Get to EP16 off of the Echo Trail early. The initial portage is long, but well worn and smooth, sloping gently downgrade to the launch area. Load your canoe and head North. You'll be paddling with the slight current on this narrow winding river. The water is clear and make sure to tell the bowperson to watch for looming rocks!

E P 16 to E P 24

by Sullivan ILman
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 27, 2004
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Exit Point: Fall Lake (24)
Number of Days: 11
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
Entry Point 16 - Moose River North to the Canadian Border, then East to Basswood Lake, then South to Fall Lake, Exited at Entry Point 24. Repeating a trip that I did some 15 years ago. Sullivan ILman

Report


Friday, Aug 27 2004, Ely MN. The Outfitter drove me West to Entry Point 16 - Moose River North with his Grumman light weight solo aluminum canoe. I furnished all my other gear, except I did use his kayak paddle. Three trips to get the canoe and my two packs down the 160 rod portage to the paddable section of the Moose River. Two more short portages of 20 & 25 rods and a Beaver dam of 10 feet to pull over and I arrived on Nina Moose Lake. I stopped at the camp site on the point of a peninsula, it had a great view of most of the lake as well as the mouth of the Moose River and the Portage River to the South. I enjoyed watching an Otter and other canoes coming and going from the lake. We had another short shower while I sat under the tarp in my folding chair that I had brought. A beautiful Rainbow formed over the bay to the East.

Sat, Aug 28. Partly cloudy, temp 50 -52 degrees early. North toward Lake Agnes. Pulled across a Beaver dam and did two portages and arrived on Lake Agnes early. [I'm terrible out of shape - age 63 and I've only traveled 7 miles and done 371 rods of portage - 3 trips each on the portages in 2 days.] {Most paddlers are on Lake Agnes or Lac La Croix their 1st day.}

Sunday, Aug 29. North from the camp site to enter the Boulder River, North toward Lac La Croix. I did the 24 rod portage, but I elected to paddle an extra two miles on the Boulder River to avoid the 65 rod portage into Boulder Bay. One of the 3 minor rapids (minor at low water) was too shallow to run and I portaged 1 rod over smooth rock. Into Boulder Bay of Lac La Croix. The second camp site was empty, but I had not traveled enough miles so I continued on. The other sites were occupied until I found the one closest to the Bottle River empty. After setting up camp I paddled up the lake to see Warrior Hill. After taking pictures I continued on toward the pictograph sites. Just before I reached these a light shower started. It soon was a regular rain with wind - I did not get my camera out again. I'm now 2 1/2 miles from the safety of my gear at camp. I did manage to paddle back in the rain with only my cap and life jacket for warmth. It rained until well after midnight.

Aug 30. Everything out is wet from the blowing rain. It is still 60 degrees at 9:00. I did the 80 rod Bottle portage into Iron Lake and found a camp site.

Aug 31. Raining early. Mommy Loon and her young brood made a great commotion near the rocks and swam out into the lake and then something was splashing in the water. Apparently something caught and age a young Loon. I crossed Iron Lake and portaged Curtain Falls into Crooked Lake.

Sept 1. Calm lake this AM and no dew. This is the first night that wet items dried during the night. Started across Crooked Lake watching my map and compass very closely. While I was stopped for my lunch break a couple paddled by with two young children. He said that a Bear had came into their camp on Friday Bay for the last two days and ran off with a food bag. (I saw Bear scat at a camp site, but I saw no Bear.)

Sept 2. Completed Crooked Lake. Saw the pictographs on the cliff beside the lake. I portaged Lower Basswood Falls and camped near the mouth of the Horse River. I observed canoe traffic entering and leaving the Horse River from or to Crooked Lake. Saw three Otter today, two near a camp site and the third nearby fishing. Strong head wind most of the day. Moose are calling from the Canadian side.

Sept 3. Paddled up the Basswood River. I did the 32 rod portage on the Canadian side around Wheel Barrow Falls. I portaged 30 rods around the next rapids and then saw a Beaver swimming with a freshly cut limb. He slapped a warning with his tail and abandoned the limb. I continued on up stream past the start of the mile long portage. Did a 25 and a 10 rod portage and then lined up 3 rods around a minor rapid. At the NE corner of the peninsula I did a 40 rod portage around major rapids. At the camp site on the point some one took the stern end of a broken Alumnacraft aluminum canoe, sawed the end out and placed the broken canoe around the fire grate to form a chimney, it looked great. [I built no fires this trip.] I paddled on up stream, from this camp site the river narrows and the current is moving. I was able to paddle up stream since the water was so low. At higher levels this would be impossible. [Going down stream here one could get into trouble very quickly if they did not immediately get out river left - American side, to portage around the rapids.] Came to more rapids at the second camp site from the East end of the Basswood River. Here I elected to continue on Eastward on the regular portage trail past Upper Basswood Falls. [Next time I'll do the 340 rod portage rather than do all the short ones and load and unload the boat - it will be quicker, easier and safer doing the long one.] Three young men were camped at the 1st camp site, just down stream of Upper Basswood Falls. They had attempted to run the rapids in one of their canoes, a Souris and had cracked the bow and broken both gunnel's. The boat was still paddable, but probably with out any gear. I met two Forest Service personnel at the Falls and I told them about the canoe chimney - I hope that they left it alone as some one did a lot of work positioning it there. Camped on Basswood Lake within a mile or so of the falls.

Saturday Sept 4. As I entered Pipestone Bay the camp sites were occupied. I finally found one empty on the East side about a mile from Pipestone Falls. I later observed other parties looking for a camp site on the beginning of this Labor Day weekend.

Sept 5. Raining. I decided to stay put as campsites closer to the exit were probably all occupied. I was hoping that Monday would bring better weather.

Sept 6 2004, Monday, Labor Day. Raining and strong wind from the South - a head wind. I broke camp and headed for Pipestone Falls staying in the lee as much as possible. Going across Newton Lake wasn't too bad. I portaged Newton Falls and headed down Fall Lake while all other parties were headed for the ramp on Fall Lake by the Forest Service Campground. I planned to paddle the full length of Fall Lake to Packsack's dock. I rounded a corner and caught the full force of 4 plus miles of a wind out of the South and rolling, breaking waves. A couple hundred yards more and I saw that this route was impossible in this wind with 3 - 4 foot swells and breaking waves. I changed course and headed for the ramp a full 1/2 mile away. I made it safely, but I did take on a little water in the rough lake. I called Packsack and they graciously came and picked me up and transported me to their base in Winton MN on Fall lake.

Some observations. There are resident Chipmunk at most camp sites looking for a free hand out. Loons and other birds including Raven were seen every day. Eagle were observed most days - sometimes two or three, both mature and immature Eagles. Heard wolves every evening and morning, except on Pipestone Bay. Heard Moose on several different days, but I saw no Moose, Bear or Wolves. I saw one mouse on a portage trail and I saw striped Garter Snake twice. Saw several bugs, including grasshopper, but most bugs were not of the biting type. Saw small frogs several times sitting in small pools beside the lake - they were looking for warmer water. Saw Squirrel at most camp sites eating and gathering Spruce cones for the winter and feeding on Pine cones. The squirrels were mostly grey with a reddish tail. Saw Turtles a couple of times, once several were sitting on a log. A few Maple and Oaks were turning brilliant red. Toward the end of the trip the Aspen were starting to turn yellow. The thing that surprised me the most were all the wild flowers blooming in late August and early Sept in the BWCA. Most flowers I did not know the names of but I did recognize red blooms and white blooms on Water Lily as well as wild White clover. I traveled about 70 miles this trip including side trips which included 1135 rods of portage which I did 3 times to get all gear across. {16 1/2 feet to a rod - about one canoe length per rod.]

Route Traveled. Moose River N, Nina Moose Lake, Lake Agnes, Lac La Croix, Iron Lake, Crooked Lake, Basswood River, Basswood Lake, Pipestone Bay, Newton Lake, Fall Lake.

Now that I'm retired I'm already planning for a trip next year.


 


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