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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

August 03 2021

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
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!

Moose River North to Iron

by Wables
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 13, 2012
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 6

Trip Introduction:
Two of us started planning this trip in August of 2011 after a successful trip. The original plan was to go from Moose River North to Iron and back through the Stuart River EP but the long portages of the Stuart Route and allure of Lake Trout in Oyster made us re-think our route at the last minute. We had an interesting group of 6 where only one person knew everyone in the group before we got to Ely, and the group ranged from three 10 plus trip veterans to a newbie. Sorry about the lack of pictures. The rain got to my camera by day 2. :(

Day 1 of 5

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The group met up in Ely at TGO at 7:00 am. I had picked up the permit the day before in Duluth. Three of us drove up from Duluth, two from the Cities, and one an Ely resident. Several of us met each other for the first time at TGO. We got off to the EP, and after a quick gear check and weeding out of redundant gear, we were on the portage by 8:30. It was an interesting experience getting an unfamiliar group pared down enough to single portage through emails and text messages, but we managed it. In the end we had about 2 extra days of granola bars and 3 saws, but the gear worked out pretty well. It was a quick trip north as we had a 15 MPH south wind. One interesting thing to note was that there is an extra portage on Moose River between the two short ones on the map due to a series of large beaver dams. The portage is short, but extremely muddy and slippery after rain. It appeared to be a well used beaver trail, and I do not believe it was there when I traveled through there 2 years ago.

One of the group members needed to check the NE bay on Agnes for invasive species, so we opted for the longer portage to Boulder River on the NE side of Agnes. We were there for lunch by noon, and we broke up the rest when another group came through from the north. We continued leisurely up the Boulder River, taking the portage south of the bottle portage instead of paddling around Tiger Bay due to the increasing south winds. We got on to Iron by 3:30, and claimed the second site on the west end by 4:00. Due to high winds, we were shore bound for the rest of the evening. We had a dinner of Adolf's brats with mac and cheese, and baked fish caught from shore for a midnight snack.

At about 8:30 we watched a group of 7 in 3 aluminum canoes complete the back-breaker portage to the SW of our site and paddle leisurely while singing into the whitecaps. We wondered if they were too inexperienced or intoxicated to understand the trouble they were in. I believe the question was answered on Friday.


Day 2 of 5

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More wind and rain. We fished from shore for most of the day, but got out to fish the bottle river for about an hour before thunderstorms rolled in before dinner. We had a great meal of fish taco's before hiding from the rain in the tents.


Day 3 of 5

Friday, June 15, 2012

Finally a nice day!!! We hit the water early, with all 3 canoes fishing their way across Iron to meet up at Curtain Falls for lunch. We picked a beautiful spot to snack and nap, and watched one of the canoes from Friday's group (we were convinced it was the same group, but could be wrong) capsize in the current below Curtain beyond the view of the other 2 canoes in the group. We whistled and flagged down the 2 other canoes, and one went off to the rescue. Several of us have first hand experience in this, and we spent the rest of the weekend discussing what they did right and what they did wrong. I was glad it wasn't me...again.

We caught plenty of fish for dinner, and made a nice evening paddle boating a number of smallies and walleyes around the islands in front of the camp site.

 Most of the walleyes were caught pretty deep - 15 to 20 FOW. The big smallies were in about 10 FOW and caught on light jigs and leeches. The male smallies were all over in the shallows and would hit just about anything. 


Day 4 of 5

Saturday, June 16, 2012

We got up early and were paddling by 7:00 with our sites set on Oyster Lake. We explored Tiger Bay, and made the 2 short portages into Agnes. Tiger Bay was packed, with one group bushwacked on an island. They were still there at about 9:00 sitting on shore with their canoes turned over on shore. I was looking forward to a swim in the hot June morning at the beach in front of the Agnes-Oyster River portage, but there were 4 feet of Mayfly shells floating on the shore, so we pressed on and were on Oyster by 11:00. We stayed at the site just north of the portage which was excellent.

After setting up tents, two of us went out to catch trout for dinner, and we were quickly blown off the lake. The temp went from 80 to 50 in about an hour, and we had wicked thunder storms from 2:00 to 7:00. We ate gorp and candy bars for dinner, and bannock for a snack after the rain let up. We got camp cleaned up before bed so we could fish and dry out in the morning.


Day 5 of 5

Sunday, June 17, 2012 We had planned on loitering for a bit and drying out before leaving, but strong winds were blowing the waves into camp. Worried about the wind getting worse for the trip across Nina Moose, we were on the water at 7:20 for the paddle out. The trip out of the Oyster River was excellent, but with all of the recent rain the water was high and the current was strong in the lower portion of the river. We would not have wanted to paddle up it. We were in the parking lot by noon, and had a wonderful lunch at the Ely Steak House before parting ways.

Final notes:

 This was the worst weather I have ever experienced on my 10 plus trips, but it is time I started paying my dues. The fishing was OK, but not spectacular thanks to the weather.

 While we were a group of male 30 somethings, we saw a lot of older, teenage, and women's groups. It was great to see, but none would portage our gear on Father's Day. We didn't see any other groups single portaging.

 Tripping with new people is great! We had a good variety of backgrounds, upbringings, and life situations which made for good conversations at camp. There were no arguments, and I believe that each of us left with a different perspective on life after the trip.

 Just a reminder - the portages in Canada suck! Luckily my crash on the muddy bottle portage did not lead to permanent damage or an infection.

 I had a teenager making fun of me on the last portage because I had a "woody." I would like to clarify that it is a cedar strip and glass hull.


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