Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

April 13 2024

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: 5
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
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!

Oyster Creek and Boulder River

by oldgentleman
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 05, 2011
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
I had just about given up doing anything but solo trips. My old friends don't want to do anything so strenuous. My son doesn't want to move as slow as I do, plus he has his own life to lead. I still kept in touch with several former associates and I knew Jay was a serious wilderness backpacker and that he'd done at least one Boundary Waters trip. When I mentioned my upcoming trip he expressed an interest. We decided to meet for lunch and discuss it, and he accepted my invitation. Jay had been to the Boundary Waters one time, in 1994. Coincidentally we were taking the same route he had taken back then. He remembered a lot of detail from that trip.

Day 1 of 9

Sunday, June 05, 2011 We spent Saturday night at the bunk house at Voyageur North. drnatus came over and introduced himself. He had seen the flying moose on my canoe. His party was going in the same place we were. Enjoyed meeting you! I always like a good play on words.

Sunday morning we were up at 5:30. We had breakfast sandwiches from the Clark station next door. We had intended to buy our leaches from TGO, but he wasn't up yet, so got them from Lynne and headed on up the Echo Trail.

The day was sunny and warm. We had smooth paddling except for the occasional beaver dam. We paddled down the Moose River, crossed Nina Moose lake and into the Nina Moose River. Then, on the 70 rod portage on the Nina Moose River I tripped on a rock and went down hard on my hands and knees, dropping the canoe. I have NEVER fallen on a portage before and have to admit it shook my confidence. Am I getting too old for this?

Jay was there in a flash, asked if I was alright. "Yes, I just tripped on a rock", I said, wondering if I was being fully honest. I picked up the canoe and continued on, watching where I put my feet. Those concerns stayed with me for the entire trip.

We continued until we reached the place we thought we should find the mouth of Oyster Creek. After one wrong turn we found it and paddled north. The Oyster starts out very narrow, winding in tight turns. For every mile the crow flies we covered maybe 3 or more along the creek. We had numerous beaver dams to drag over. The bottom is so soft and mucky there is no place to stand. When dragging over a beaver dam we had to balance precariously on the dam itself. By the time we reached Oyster Lake the wind was blowing pretty hard and we were tired. We took the camp site just north of the portage and made camp.

I recommend taking the portage from Agnes instead Oyster Creek. It would probably be a lot quicker and surely no harder.


Day 2 of 9

Monday, June 06, 2011 We decided to take a camp day. We're on vacation. We can do what ever we want. We had coffee, pancakes and bacon. After breakfast Jay fished from shore and caught a couple smallies.

After lunch we took the canoe out and paddled around the lake. We saw one guy bring a canoe down the portage. Never saw him again. I think he continued on to Rocky Lake or Hustler Lake. Later we saw a group of five (yup, count ’em, 5) canoes and 9 guys come in. They all went over to the camp in the middle of the point. After an hour or so the guy in the solo canoe paddled around to the camp on the tip of the point. Looked like intentional rule breaking.


Day 3 of 9

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 Day broke with ominous dark clouds to the west. Jay, always optimistic, thought they would probably pass south of us. We wore our rain suits anyway.

As we passed the camp on the tip of the point there was the one solo canoe and all the guys together. The next camp had the four tandems. Must be a path connecting the camps.

The rain was rapidly approaching and there was thunder and lightening. Just as we got to the portage to Rocky it started to rain. We put the packs and canoe on the shore and hoped it would pass. No point in just standing around. We portaged to Rocky. Once there we waited, watching the rain and the lightening. .

The storm tapered off. We started paddling up Rocky. Soon the rain and lightening were back. We paddled to the camp site on Rocky and set up the tarp for a little shelter. Then we relaxed, ate some gorp and jerky and watched the weather.

The storm passed. We portaged on to Green and then Ge-Be-On-e-Quet lake. We camped at site 119 on the point. There was plenty of room for my little solo tent and for Jays larger tent. I strung my tarp over my tent in case the rain returned. Not a bad little camp.


Day 4 of 9

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 Morning brought cool, cloudy skies and some wind. We paddled to the portage into Ge-Be creek and hiked past the waterfall. After the corkscrew passage on Oyster the straight shot on Ge-Be-On-e-Quet was great. We came quite close to an eagle sitting on a fallen tree root. When we were too close he flew to a snag a short way off. When we moved on he was back on his root. He may have been guarding something. By the time I put down my paddle, got my camera out of the pocket of my PFD and it's zip lock bag I was only able to get a quick shot. I've only been that close to a wild eagle one other time. As we continued down Ge-Be creek Jay pushed off what looked like a large rock submerged in the water. His paddle sank into it and a noxious stench bubbled up. It must have been a large, dead animal decomposing in the water. I told Jay to stick his head beneath the surface to determine what kind of animal it was, but he declined. It was big. Too big to be a deer.

We arrived at Pocket Creek in a short time, made the right turn and arrived at Lac La Croix a few minutes later. Once on the big lake the wind increased dramatically. We pulled into campsite 150, which I had marked on the map as a 5 star rated site. By now the wind was blowing a moderate gale, according to the Beaufort Scale. We set up camp and rigged the big blue tarp as a wind break. The camp was a bit of a disappointment. The south beach was overrun with poison ivy and the area around the fire grate was brushy. I rated it a 3 star, but we were glad to get out of the waves.   It was chilly and we soon put on our long underwear, fleeces and wool shirts. Then we had a rather pleasant day lounging around camp, gathering firewood and trying to avoid the poison ivy.


Day 5 of 9

Thursday, June 09, 2011 Got up to a clear, cool day without much wind. We had breakfast, coffee, eggs and bacon. Then we loaded the canoe and headed to Fish Stake Narrows, turned right and went looking for pictographs on the Canadian Side. We saw the one of hand prints that aren't very high. Then we continued on. Stopped for a lunch break at camp 173 on the southern tip of an island. Didn't look like a very good site. We paddled on and arrived at Boulder Bay earlier than we expected. We wanted a camp close to the Boulder River and took camp 1819, the third one from the river mouth. It's a spacious, shady site with a picnic table made of logs. We set up camp, then took the canoe out to explore the area. The two camp sites closer to the Boulder River were occupied.


Day 6 of 9

Friday, June 10, 2011 After breakfast we took the canoe to the Boulder River for some fishing and exploration. We parked the canoe at the downstream end of the first rapids and fished for a while. Then we paddled upstream to the rapids coming out of Agnes Lake next to the portage. Jay outfished me but I won't say how badly at this time. We took the short cut portage back to Boulder Bay and back across to our camp. After lunch we watched a dragon fly emerging from his nymph husk. It was a much longer process than I expected. It took well over an hour, all the while he was vulnerable to any bird looking for an easy snack.


Day 7 of 9

Saturday, June 11, 2011 We took the canoe to the Boulder River again for some fishing. Once again Jay outfished me. I guess he just has the touch. All our fish were smallmouth. Didn't get any walleyes.

I didn't like the upstream portage from Boulder River back to Boulder Bay' The Boulder bay end is very rocky with no place to set a canoe or packs. We checked out the 115 rod portage that goes from the Boulder River to Agnes. It comes out right by the place we wanted to camp. It turned out to be a straight, level easy portage. I liked it. After lunch I took a hike to the top of the hill behind camp to get a photo of Boulder Bay.


Day 8 of 9

Sunday, June 12, 2011 Got up and had breakfast. We broke camp and loaded the canoe. While preparing to leave we saw a group of 7 or 8 canoes gathering in front of the rocky 69 rod portage to the Boulder River. They were debating whether to take that portage or paddle the river. This was the second larger than legal group we saw that trip. They finally headed for the river. We let them get a lead on us so we wouldn't be included. We paddled to the 115 rod portage. They continued to the 26 rod portage into Agnes.

The portage was easy but pretty buggy. Thank God for Permethrin. We camped at site 1803 on Agnes. Somebody had strapped a deer scull with an 8 point rack (4 point for you westerners) high up a red pine. Jay says he can reach up exactly 8 feet, so by eyeballing him pointing up the trunk we estimated the scull to be 24 feet up the tree. What kind of person will pack an extension ladder into Agnes?

Our temporary fishing licenses had expired so we gave our remaining leaches to a guy fishing from a solo canoe near our camp.


Day 9 of 9

Monday, June 13, 2011 We got up at 6:00 and broke camp. The plan had been to camp that night on Nina Moose, then head out early the next morning and drive back to Michigan. We got to Nina Moose early and took a break for a snack at camp 1786 on the tip of the point. It wasn't even noon yet. What was there to do all day on Nina Moose? We decided to paddle out then, see if we could get a place at the bunk house and head back home early the next day. We had a strong head wind crossing Nina Moose so we hugged the eastern shore.

On the first portage on the Moose River we met 4agreenearth and his group heading in. We had a nice chat. Glad to meet you Dave. Always happy to run into another Michigander in Canoe Country.

We were back in Ely early afternoon. Lynne got us our room in the bunk house. Jay bought me a steak dinner at the Ely Steakhouse. We wandered around town, did some shopping and got to bed early. We were on the road at 5:45 the next morning, clean, rested and well fed.

I have given a lot of thought to my ability do continue tripping (no pun intended). I've decided I'm still pretty fit for 65. I'll continue my wilderness trips, but I plan to pare down the weight of my pack and to be more aware of where I put my feet. My wife assures me that I'm not as young as I used to be, but Tom Petty says 'If you never slow down you never grow old.' Guess I'll listen to both of them.


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