BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

July 28 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!

EP16 to Lac La Croix West to East Loop

by tnthekids
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 18, 2013
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
Our crew of three women spanning from mid 40s to early 70s decided this year would be a relaxed trip with two lay over days and shorter paddle routes. We decided to paddle clockwise from EP16 through Ge-be to LLC and down through Agnes to return to EP16. I hope the report is helpful for anyone else looking to do this trip.

Day 1 of 7


Monday, June 17, 2013: Pre-trip meeting

Our crew of three met up at my house to finish compiling our gear and doing a final check of everything. We took advantage of my living room floor to spread out and cross check our lists, pack food in the food saver bags, and load up the car to head to Ely where we would pick up our Seneca 3 person Kevlar canoe and permit from Jason at Ely Outfitting Company, enjoy a fabulous dinner at the Ely Steakhouse and spend the night at Canoe On Inn before heading out for our wilderness adventure.

This year we focused on weight (light weight) and food quantities with the goal of coming off the water with no left overs and being able to single trip the portages. We hoped to pack everything into our two larger gear packs but once we started packing, we discovered that was not going to work so we took the two gear packs and one #3 personal pack for our sleeping bags (we opted for the warmer bags since Mother Nature is a little confused on seasons this year). Our food/gear pack ended up weighing in at 78# which we were ok with since it contained everything that last year was in two packs.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 EP 16 – Moose River – Nina Moose Lake – Nina Moose River – Lake Agnes Paddled 8 miles – Portaged 371 rods (decided to double portage after the 1st portage)

We were up at 4:45 am and on our way soon after. We arrived at EP16 to find the parking lot about 2/3 full but we are here alone at 6:00 am on this 36 degree June morning. We wanted to single trip the portage but soon learned that was too much for our crew and gave in to double portaging.

The first 160 rod portage took some work as we got back into our groove. We each had to find our comfortable carrying style and pace – fortunately this is a nice trail for it. We started our day with full rain gear and full loads. Here my crew buddies carry our gear while I carry the canoe. This is pretty much what the entire trail is like on this portage. Very nice. Once on the water a new challenge – how to paddle and navigate a 3 person canoe. It is a good thing we have the river to ourselves this morning!

Our next 20 rod portage was pretty nice, even having a boardwalk to the end and a little view of the rapids. Back on the water and in no time, another portage appeared. We are slowly getting our groove and have still seen no one. This portage we decided is in Kate’s honor (a very dear friend who has provided much needed insight for our trips) – it is like walking through a hog pen for the amount of mud! We slip, and slide and get sucked in the much before Tauna makes her début performance of mud woman. Don’t worry; no injuries. After laughter, a few photos and a helping hand followed by some mud removal, we are back on the water. A few minutes later…. What?! The actual portage?? What was that we just did?? Oh well, here we go again.

We breeze through this 25 rod portage without a problem. I finally manage to flip up this canoe solo and feel like maybe the canoe and I can be friends on this trip (it sure is a lot wider than a 2 person). Back on the water we go.

Between here and Nina Moose Lake we meet our first crew who is on their way in. Once on Nina Moose Lake, we take a break for a snack and compass/GPS review before crossing the lake. The water is calm, the sky is clear and it is warming up quickly. The scenery here is very pretty and the lake is quiet. Aah, the feeling of being back ‘home’. We work our way across the lake and work on our paddling technique in this 3 person canoe (having never had 3 people paddle is definitely a learning curve). Off to the Nina Moose River we go. There is a lot of beaver activity on the river but we were able to paddle over all of the little dams. We met a few other crews traveling the opposite direction.

The 70 rod portage had a nice trail running along the water and we now had our groove back in place. I am comfortable flipping the canoe up and down and it is carrying better too. But I still am not sure it has become my ‘friend’. Take a few minutes to look back at the portage landing to enjoy the cascading rapids. The portage landing is to the left on this picture.

On the northeast side of the marshy area north of the portage two eagles were keeping watch. One sat in the tree along the shoreline watching while a second was down near the water and appeared to be gathering food. We took our time to enjoy from a distance while another crew paddled silently by.

At the 96 rod portage we had to wait for a large crew from Arizona while they worked to clear the landing. We visited for a few minutes before heading our separate ways. There is something about the satisfaction of being a woman and being able to do a solo flip up in front of a bunch of men when you have just watched them two person a Kevlar…. This portage again was a nice trail with a nice landing. Our last portage of the day! Off to find our campsite for the night on Lake Agnes. The rest of the river again had a lot of beaver activity but was able to be paddled without a problem.

Once on Lake Agnes, Tauna (who was in the bow), started to scout for a campsite. We had our eyes on the one to the south of the portage to Oyster but it was already occupied so we ended up at the site just north of the portage to Oyster. We pulled into camp at about 1 pm. After lunch we set up camp and spent the day relaxing. Aah, hammock time!

Campsite #1793 - site review has been posted.

The mosquitoes were bad on the river and the portages. We are truly enjoying seeing all the wild flowers and butterflies that we have never experienced in our late summer trips.

 



Day 2 of 7


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lake Agnes – Oyster River – Oyster Lake – Rocky Lake – Green Lake – Ge-be-on-e- quet Lake Paddled 8 miles – Portaged 490 rods (double portaged at all portages)

This non-morning person who is camping with two morning people was once again up at 4:45 am and preparing for the day. It looks like we may see rain today but the waters are calm. We packed up, grabbed our breakfast bars and headed for our first portage of the day; 160 rods to Oyster River at 6:00 am. We have given in to the fact that we have to double portage.

This portage offered a little of everything; two large trees to go over, two small streams to cross, a little mud, and a bog at the end requiring teamwork to get to the water. This was my last trip with the canoe as Tauna took over after this as the canoe and I were just not getting along this year.

The paddle on Oyster River was pretty and peaceful. But no moose again today. Only a few rods before the 60 rod portage there is a very well constructed beaver dam that requires a lift over (or you may have two canoes by the time you make it to the other site at this time of year).

The rapids at the portage landing come right next to the very rocky landing. The portage itself is nice once you get out of the water.

Oyster Lake is pretty, yet very deceiving. Even with three of us, we still did some extra wandering to get to the narrows (maybe it has something to do with the time of day???) The narrows itself is very pretty. Not sure if we are just tired today or what but even finding the 65 rod portage was a challenge.

The portage went smooth and we were greeted by Rocky Lake. Definitely a lake worth visiting. We grabbed a snack and went in search of the pictographs. They were very easy to find. From the portage they are on the rock cliff directly in front of you. There is a rock island peninsula just after them. We continued our journey along Rocky and enjoyed the view.

The 85 rod portage to Green Lake had a little terrain but the trail was good. I stayed with the canoe and gear while Tauna and Carolyn went back for the rest of our gear. While sitting in the water cooling off, I noticed a craw fish big enough for dinner! I left him there though. At this portage we also met up with a crew we had seen the day before. They were a family of four who were also enjoying the abundance of mosquitoes on their trip.

We loaded up and had a paddling lunch on Green Lake to get away from the mosquitoes. Our final portage of the day was a 120 rod into Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake. We had been a little concerned about this portage based on forum posts but discovered our concern was for nothing. The trail started out nice and gradually went up hill, then flattened out and finally went back down to a nice landing area. I’m not sure where I saw the post about the 20 rod step drop but is does not exist if anyone else has seen it.

We quickly loaded the canoe to escape the bugs and began scouting for our site. The ones I had hoped for were already taken (of course the “chair” site was taken) so we checked out the next site to the north on the west side of the lake and called it home for two nights. We reached camp about 2 pm and took just about the last site on the lake. After setting up camp we decided we needed to swim if there was any way to handle the smell in that tent tonight! Polar Bear Plunge here we come! Brrrr that water was cold!

Today we had sun, periodic sprinkles, way more mosquitoes than we wanted, and the new addition of deer flies. That goodness for bug nets, gloves and good bug spray! By late afternoon our sunshine had turned to rain and we retreated to the tent for a while.

This site had a ton to offer. Great places for several hammocks, tons of room to explore, great rock slabs for laying around and oh my, animal remains! We found lots of bones on this trip. And of course… mosquitoes. There is a lower marshy area to the south side of this site which does not show on the map but I’m sure contributes to the bug factor. I would not let is keep you away from this site though!

Campsite #118 - campsite review has been posted.

 



Day 3 of 7


Thursday, June 20, 2013 - LAYOVER DAY!

We had thunderstorms last night. My day to sleep in and I’m up at 5 am thanks to the call of nature! No rain at the moment but still a lot of thunder and lightning to our south. Nice sunrise and even more beautiful double rainbow with a single rainbow reflection into the calm waters. What a way to wake up! We enjoyed the view, killed a few thousand mosquitoes, and Tauna and I retreated to the tent to read while Carolyn braved the bugs.

After a few more hours of on/off thunder and rain, the morning cleared and breakfast preparations began. Pancakes with dehydrated blueberries and homemade syrup with hot beverages was just what we needed. With dishes done and laundry up to dry, the hammocks were calling our names. Our site has great hammock trees for all of us to be right by the water. We all bathed in more bug spray, grabbed our water bottles and books and settled in….for about an hour before the rain moved back in.

We played on/off sprinkle threats all day as the weather made circles around us. Fortunately nothing drenching so we were still able to enjoy our day outside by the water. The mosquitoes were terrible and we were covered in red bloody welts, even with the “good” spray. Also adding to the list of unwanted wildlife today was wood ticks and a few black flies. This site appears to have a lot of animal activity as we found several bones and animal furs around the site. But no problems during our stay.

We decided to do our dinner for lunch given the weather so pizza it was with raspberry crumble for dessert. Yummmmmyyy!

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading, killing mosquitoes and trying to forecast the next rain shower. By 6 pm we finally had to retreat to the tent to escape the bugs for a while and plan out our day tomorrow.

 



Day 4 of 7


Friday, June 21, 2013

Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake – Ge-be-on-e-quet Creek – Pocket Creek – Lac La Croix – Tiger Bay/LLC Paddled 10 miles – Portaged 60 rods

It was a long night last night as we dealt with the endless mosquitoes. We talked about alternate route plans as this was wearing on my canoe buddies greatly. We made some tentative decisions and aimed to get up at about 4:30 am to get on the water early but hearing the rain when we woke up, we all rolled over and did not move until about 5:00. We were still on the water by 6 am, in the rain, with some minor head winds. Our first portage was just around the bend.

We landed at the 35 rod portage and were immediately covered in mosquitoes again. The beginning of the trail was so narrow that we had to 2-person the canoe until the trail widened to allow portaging it properly. The rest of the portage was wet and rocky but not a bad trail.

Once on Ge-be Creek we grabbed our breakfast bars and began to paddle. Definite benefit to a 3-person canoe here; we can eat and paddle and still be moving forward! The creek was quiet except for two ducks and a zillion mosquitoes. Just before the end of Ge-be Creek is a beaver dam that required a lift over before continuing to Pocket Creek.

Pocket Creek was another quiet paddle to the 25 rod final portage of the day. This portage is rocky but flat with not the best landing on the LLC side. At 7:30 am we were on LLC! Now to test our navigation skills.

We are a great team! The wind is minor and constantly changing directions. We made a snack break party way to Fish Stake Narrows and continued onward. (We found out when we returned that one of the sites we used as a navigation point turned out to be our outfitter who was guiding a trip at the same time!). We began to see boats almost immediately but fortunately they were in the distance.

On our way to the pictographs, the girls spotted a “gray object” on a rock – photo op! It was a Canadian marker just before the pictographs. Neither of them had ever seen one.

This lake is so pretty! The cliffs where the pictographs are located is very easy to find and is just amazing. We spent quite a bit of time admiring not only the pictographs but also the rock itself. I will only post a few pictures of the pictographs here so I don’t spoil it for anyone but this should definitely be on your trip list if you have not been here. WOW! As a side note… this is the only way I will probably ever see a moose in the BW!

Since it was still early in the day we decided to continue paddling instead of stopping at our planned site. Next we passed Warrior Hill. I don’t think I would want to run up that “hill”. We found a site at Tiger Bay at 11:30 am for lunch and decided this would be home for the night. We ended up on the island just northwest of Tiger Bay with the campsite on the southern tip of the island.

Campsite #173 - I have posted a site review.

 



Day 5 of 7


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tiger Bay/LLC – Boulder Bay – Lake Agnes Paddled 4 miles – Portaged 89 rods

Even though we were awake, the girls were nice and let me stay in bed until 7 am. Then up and packing we went just after a morning rain shower. We were on the water at 8 am. Calm waters and quietness were this stretch of paddling. The loons and birds are moving about (and of course the mosquitoes). Our first portage notes showed a difficult, rocky terrain for the 65 rod. We overshot the portage by one little bad and paddled a nice little bad before getting back on track.

The portage had a little rocky climb to start but was not bad as bad as the reviews had made it sounds. The landing had a partially fallen tree but not too bad. We loaded up and paddled out far enough to escape most of the mosquitoes then enjoyed a morning snack and did a map check. This little pond is pretty clean for being so small.

Our next 24 rod portage brought us directly across the downward end of the rapids so we were able to enjoy the view as we paddled out from the portage. This portage had a pretty good landing with a fairly steep and rocky uphill climb but then a nice trail to a nice landing. The water was flowing pretty fast here.

Back in the canoe and just a few minutes later a small set of rapids to paddle appeared (no portage needed). We paddled up stream and continued on to Lake Agnes. Our goal is the site I had originally wanted on our way in. The wind that had been at our back now is coming at us from the side and picked up in intensity. Still no rain though the clouds do threaten it today.

Around the point and YES, the site is open! 10:30 am as we pull in to check it out. We have our home for the night. We work as a team to set up camp and make oatmeal with dried fruit and hot coffee/chocolate for brunch. Exactly what our tummies needed! With dishes done and no rain yet, we each find our place in nature to relax and reflect on why we are here.

By 5 pm we had sprinkles again. I headed to the tent to read and let my bug bites which had turned into two inch wide rashes around my calves dry out. Our first aid kit has seen a lot of action on this trip but fortunately only from bug bites, leeches, bumps and bruises; nothing serious. We have noted a few things to add for next year.

By 7 pm we were all forced into the tent and decided to prepare for our final route and then spent the evening playing cards mosquito-fee (after killing the ones who wanted to reside in the tent with us). The poor tent has a lot of DNA on it from this trip. Just as we all snuggled down for the night we heard a noise outside…. I, being closest to the zipper and designated critter watcher, unzipped the tent to peak outside. And that “bear” that was sneaking around our site… well, it was a nice little hare hopping around looking for an evening snack. It continued on its way and all was quiet. Back to bed for my first good night’s sleep on this trip – my mind is finally on vacation.

Campsite #1816 - I have posted a campsite review

 



Day 6 of 7


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lake Agnes – Nina Moose River – Nina Moose Lake Paddled 6 miles – Portaged 166 rods

Up at 4:30 am again and on the water at 5:30 am. The water is fairly calm but rain and wind is definitely coming today. The lake is quiet as we make our way to Nina Moose River, hoping our early morning will bring us a moose sighting. The water is quiet; the birds are singing, but no moose.

Our 96 rod portage arrives and we prepare for the mosquito attack. Tauna has mastered the canoe and we can finally do a single trip portage. I grab Bertha (food and gear pack) and top load the small personal pack for the hike across the portage.

Once across and loaded, we headed upstream again. A few minutes of paddling and I realized my bug net is gone (this is a major problem!) Oh no! I know exactly where it is. I had to take a “nature break” at the end of the portage and my hat caught on a branch… yep that is where it is. Good thing we are really close as this has become one very valuable piece of gear on this trip! Carolyn hops out and saves my day (and several pints of blood).

Back on the water we paddle the calm glass-like water until the beautiful cascading rapids come into view. We hang out for a photo op and have a snack while taking in the sounds around us. Knowing we can single trip this portage is a great feeling as we load up for the 70 road.

This trail is rocky and a little slippery in the on/off rain and has some rolling terrain. We land our gear at Nina Moose Lake and have plenty of time to find our perfect site for our final night in the BW. We paddle east around the shoreline, looking at each open site. After circling the lake the wind began to pick up and we made the decision one of the two sites on the west of the lake would be our final home for this trip. Both sites were nice but we liked the southern best.

The rocks were very slippery and required a crawl out of the canoe and up the slope to prevent falling. We had camp set up and were checking out the surroundings by 10 am. Today is a day of heavy showers and strong wind so it is nice to be at camp.

Carolyn played monkey again to help with the bear hang since the choices were few for trees and I had to use a very brushy pine tree for one side.

Our rain fly is up and getting a work out today as we dodge from it to the water front with the weather. It is definitely a cooler day today. Tonight is the night of the super moon but between rain and bugs, we will not be seeing it. Instead we use our final night to jot down notes about our trip and gear. What works, what doesn’t, what do we want to change, etc.

Campsite #1789

 



Day 7 of 7


Monday, June 24, 2013 Nina Moose Lake – Moose River – EP 16 Paddled 4 miles – Portaged 205 rods

We were up at 4 am since Carolyn could not sleep any more. We began our final gear packing, paying more attention to whose stuff went into which pack to minimize sorting back in Ely. By 5:15 am we were on the water making our way to the river with final hopes of seeing that elusive moose. The skies were clear and the sun was on the rise. We could hear the wind in the trees and were happy to be spending our paddling hours on the river. We did our usual grabbing of a bar for breakfast.

As we made our way to the middle of the lake we saw the Super Moon off to our west still visible low in the clear blue sky.

We paddled on to the overlook along the river where Tauna and I headed up the rock face “mountain” very carefully. I was very happy for the sunny, dry day today to be able to take in this view. I went about 2/3 of the way up, plotting my steps very carefully on the sometimes slippery rock before stopping. Getting to the top was not important enough to risk injury. The view from where I stood was beautiful and I felt at peace. I took a few minutes to sit down and just let my eyes take in the view.

Once back at the water we paddled on to our 25 rod portage which we single tripped without problem. We were able to paddle upstream through the “extra” mud portage and avoid playing in the mud today. Around the corner and we were at the 20 rod portage where we once again could make a single trip. Tauna continued to portage that canoe like a master. I took the gear and one personal while Carolyn took the other personal.

It was a sad feeling to paddle the last few strokes to get to the final 160 rod that brought our trip to a close. At the 160 rod we loaded for a single trip and headed out with the three of us hanging close together. We reached the parking lot at 8 am to load up my SUV and head for Ely to enjoy that much coveted shower at Ely Outfitting Company.

This trip was our first for early in the season and showed us many new things. Butterflies of many varieties, wildflowers of amazing beauty, new growth on trees, and a new respect for bug nets. Until our next trip…... Nina Moose Lake, Agnes, Lake, Oyster Lake, Rocky Lake, Green Lake, Ge-be-on-e- quet Lake, Lac La Croix, Agnes, Lake, Nina Moose Lake

 

Lakes Traveled:   Nina Moose Lake, Agnes, Lake, Oyster Lake, Rocky Lake, Green Lake, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Lac La Croix, Agnes, Lake, Nina Moose Lake,

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