BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 24 2020
Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1406 feet
Crab Lake & Cummings Lake - 4
May 25, 2006
Crab Lake and Cummings from Burntside Lake
Number of Days:
We awoke around five and got our things together before making the first trip out to the Burntside public access to drop off my canoe before heading back to the outfitter to pick up the second. Our second canoe was already waiting for us at the public access so we dropped off all the gear and Drew and I headed back to Voyager North to pick up our permit and some paddles. The weather was low 70s, little wind, and clear skies.
We were on the water by 7am and reached the portage to Crab by 8. We split up the gear and headed up the mile long portage. The trail was rocky for the first 100 rods or so and had a lot of up and downs. We took a break just short of the marsh and where it looked like the new portage connected with the old one. The rest of the portage leveled off a bit and became straighter and less hilly. We took a second break about 50 rods short of the end of the portage and then finished it off after 45-60 minutes of hiking total. It was a rough way to begin a trip but at least the worst was behind us for the day. We then paddled across Crab Lake and took the 20 rod portage to Little Crab. The path was well worn, wide, and very easy. After paddling through Little Crab, we traveled down the Korb River, lifted over the 2 rod portage, and moved onto Korb Lake. We decided to skip the extra paddling across Korb Lake and further down the Korb River to the 30 rod portage and we took the 70 rod instead. The trail was also pretty good other than scat being all over the place. We put into Cummings Lake and headed to one of the two island sites on the eastern portion of the lake. We came the first site and decided to stop there after seeing how nice the site was. The grate area had some nice benches around it, the tent pads were nice and away from the fire grate and we had a nice rock landing. It took us about five hours to get from the public access on Burntside to our campsite on Cummings. A storm briefly rolled through around five in the afternoon and then we grilled up some steaks for our first night. The night ended with some whiskey and a campfire.
This was our layover day so we decided on some fishing and a day trip over to Coxey Pond to see if we could find any of the remnants of the old sawmill that used to be between Coxey Pond and Silaca Lake. Upon reaching the 30 rod portage from Cummings to Korb, Brandon and Drew did some fishing and Brandon came up with a nice sized smallmouth where the Korb empties into Cummings. We then headed up the Korb River and over toward Silaca Lake. We came across the beginnings of a beaver damn pretty quick, then had another liftover about a 1/2 toward the 160 rod portage. After quickly coming to another liftover with a beaver damn in sight behind it, we decided to bag the day trip and head back to Cummings for some more fishing. Drew and Brandon tried their fishing spot again and Jet and I went out to filter some water. After numerous attempts to figure out why the filter was being so slow, Jet finally fixed it and we were once again filtering water with ease. Unfortunately, Jet removed the casing from the filter and went to clean it off in the lake and proceeded to drop it and we watched as it quickly sank to the bottom of the lake. Luckily, I had tablets so we decided on boiling water and using tablets as our methods of cleaning the water. The highlight of the afternoon was making Jet go fill a big pot up with water paddling alone. After realizing he didn't know how to turn the canoe around, we got to watch him curse and finally land the canoe on the back side of the island after finally landing on some rocks. We got in the water a bit, then enjoyed some pasta and tomato sauce for dinner. Fishing and whiskey ended the second night.
We had our sights set toward camping on Maxine Lake for our last night but were unable to locate the turnoff on the Korb River to take us over toward Maxine. We then decided to move to Crab Lake and paddle toward the closest campsite to Crab Creek which would be our exit the following day. The first two sites we passed on Crab were full so we were hoping our site would be open. It was but the campsite left a lot to be desired. There were no good tent pads, no good landing, and the entire site was on the side of a hill. One cool thing though was a chair that someone had built with logs and rocks that offered a nice westerly view of Crab Lake.
We rested for the afternoon, then made rice and baked beans for dinner while tuning into the Twins game. After dinner we headed down to the lake to fish a bit and continue listening to the Twins. We caught a couple fish and the group got to enjoy me trying to get a lure out of a branch over water while I was standing in the canoe. Without anymore whiskey to drink, we were forced to eat the rest of the bag of marshmallows and play a game of Uno before bed.
We got up around 7 and were on the water by 8. No one was excited to take the mile portage back to Burntside so we had decided to try Crab Creek as our exit. I checked with the Forest Station before our trip and was told that water levels were high enough for travel on Crab Creek. I had told our group that I had read on the forum that there were a couple portages along the way but that I didn't know how long or how many over obstacles we would come across. Up until now, everything had gone smoothly, nothing real unexpected, but we were about to get our adventure for the trip on the way out.
Right away, we hit some downed trees that we have to carry around, which was then followed by some more logs that we had to pull the canoe over. Then we had some decent paddling down the creek until we hit about a quarter mile area with five or six liftovers and beaver damns. Meanwhile, we were listening to thunder to our north and south and the clouds seemed to be bearing down on us. We finally got to a portage and it started raining for a bit. We took one trip with the packs down the portage to see how long it was and what was at the other end. Greeting us at the end of the portage was a large muddy area with some fresh bear tracks through it. After trudging through the mud and seeing that the creek did continue, we headed back up the 70-90 rod portage and got the canoes. For the next half mile or so Crab Creek was curve after curve back and forth until we reached a second portage which we decided to single trip. This portage was shorter than the first, 40-60 rods, but the landing was incredibly muddy. Wondering if we would ever come to Burntside, we put back in the water and paddled through some more curves until we started seeing lighting and Drew made us get off the water. We pulled into a muddy area and got out and headed into some trees for about 20 minutes as lightning passed through the area. Back on the water, we came to another liftover but our morale was rising because we were pretty sure we were closing in on Burntside. Then we rounded a corner and the lake was visible past another little liftover. We all cheered but then we realized that there was heavy wind on Burntside. It took us about an hour of intense paddling to get back to the public access and we were exhausted. The creek probably took about 2.5 hours to complete and while now the experience was worth it, if I go back to Crab Lake, I will take the portage every time.
To finish the experience, we headed to the Ely Steakhouse after dropping our canoe back off at VNorth and had some burgers and beer. Overall, the trip was great and we couldn't have gotten much better weather in May. Looking forward to a longer trip in July.