BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
May 07 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 7
Elevation: 1348 feet
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
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!
LIS North (14) loop to Moose River (16)
June 24, 2012
Little Indian Sioux River (north)
Moose/Portage River (north) (16)
Number of Days:
EP 14 to East Loon. Approximately. 9 miles.
We wake up early to get a jumpstart on the day. The VNO bunkhouse was comfortable, and suited our needs well. (Except for the herd of elephants staying upstairs having a jumping contest...) After a hot shower and breakfast, we head over to VNO to meet with John, and load our gear in the van. While speaking with John, we decided to rent a 23' MN 4 instead of two alumacrafts 17' and 18.5'. This decision pays huge dividends through out the trip, and served our group very well. The crew at VNO unload our two alumacrafts, and load up the MN 4. We load our gear, and follow the van to EP 16 (Moose River) where we park our vehicle. Our driver is a polite young man and we have good conversation about hunting on the way to EP 14 (LIS North). After we unload our gear, he offers to portage our canoe down to the water, but we respectfully decline. We take a few photos of the group and begin the portage down to the LIS River. [paragraph break]
We load our gear, don our pfd's, and push off. All the planning, packing, checking, re-checking, unpacking, re-packing is done and we are on our way. One of the boys snaps a shot of a very happy dad...[paragraph break]
As we progress to the first portage, we all settle out of the day to day world, and into paradise. The boys are excited to get out and take a little hike. 60 rods later and we push off again. Noah and Joel are doing well so far, we paddle north.[paragraph break]
After lunch at the falls, we decide to move north, to look for a good site on East Loon or Little Loon. A group of the Order of the Arrow was performing portage maintenance as we passed by. We offer a Thank You to the group, as the work they do is very much appreciated.[paragraph break]
As we paddle through Loon, we see three fishing boats with motors. Each fisherman was respectful, and to our surprise, kindly motored away as they saw us approach. Chris catches 2 nice northern pike, we will eat well tonight!! We decide to camp at the northern most site on East Loon. I would rate it as a 3 star site. It has two nice tent pads, but the flies were horrible. We have made it much further today than I thought we would. The boys are doing great and enjoying themselves. I can't believe how well Joel is doing, portaging his own pack the whole way. I am very proud of both Joel and Noah. They have both pulled their own weight today, and have been smiling and laughing the whole way. The weather is perfect, fresh fish for dinner, happy kido's, camp set up, dinner made, eaten, cleaned up. Life is good!! We all fall asleep pretty early, we've worked hard today.
East Loon to Eugene. Approximately 6 miles.
We wake up to a beautiful view of fog raising off the water, have breakfast, break camp and load gear to move on to a new campsite. Our goal is to make Eugene, the weather is still perfect. [paragraph break]
The portage Eugene to Slim was muddy. I guess this wasn't the best start to the day because the boys will argue most of the rest of the day. Maybe they are tired from yesterday. The Slim end of this portage was very buggy, and Chris and I put Noah and Joel in the canoe and paddle out a short way to get away from the bugs while Dad went back to get the last pack. [paragraph break]
As we paddle through Slim, we see a white tail deer on the western bank. We were able to float the 52 rod portage Slim to Sect. 3 pond because the water levels were high. Chris found a baby snapping turtle on the portage into South Lake. Noah and Joel really enjoyed checking out the baby turtle. [paragraph break]
The first real test of our trip is the portage into Steep Lake. Yes Steep lake is named correctly! Noah did great on this portage, Joel did not. Joel did not want to walk up this steep trail, but he did. I am proud of both boys for completing this portage. I admire them for not giving up. Here they are at the end of the portage with Paw Paw. [paragraph break]
We arrive at Eugene and the campsite near the narrows is open. We check it out and decide to stay for the night. I would rate this site as a 4 star, two nice tent sites, nice views, and a nice cross wind that keeps bugs away. As we unpack our gear to make camp, I realize I have lost one of my fishing poles. I hope if someone finds it, that it serves them well. The boys continue to bicker back and forth in camp. I hope they learn to work together soon, or this could be a long trip. Joel wants to take a picture of the group. Pretty good shot for a 3 year old... -------------------------------> [paragraph break] We spend time preparing dinner, fishing, exploring, and retire for the night listening to the birds sing. We only saw two other groups today, this is Great!!
Eugene to Ge-be-on-e-quet. Approximately 10 miles.
We travel from Eugene to Beartrack and prepare for the longest portage of our trip, 280 rod. A little pep talk, and we're off for Thumb. The boys are doing GREAT today! Noah and Joel both carried their own packs the whole way. I'm glad to see them helping each other and getting along. [paragraph break]
We are able to float the 9 rod portage Thumb to Finger by paddling over this dam. Which is good because Joel is tuckered out... He fell asleep as we paddled across Thumb after hiking the 280 rodder. [paragraph break]
After unloading our gear, and a sleeping Joel, we make ready to portage Finger to Finger Creek. In all of the portages I have ever carried across, this is the most beautiful so far. I wish my camera batteries wouldn't have died during this portage, but I guess you'll have to go see it for yourself. Water fall, Old growth pines, down hill to the creek, absolutely gorgeous!! I doubled back to carry Joel for a while until he woke up about half way across. Then I gave him a piggy back ride the rest of the way. This is the only portage the whole trip, he didn't walk himself. I figure he deserved a break. [paragraph break]
Noah on the other hand, was ready to go. Being his second trip to the BW, he acts like a seasoned pro, you know, 5 years old going on 20... I thought this was a cool shot of him hanging out on the rocks before the portage. Today is the day that everything seems to come together. All is right in the world. [paragraph break]
We paddle from Finger Creek into Pocket. I would like to come back to Pocket and spend a few days. The island campsite looked great and we didn't see any other groups today. We consider staying at Pocket, but decide with the perfect weather we should push on, anticipating sooner or later we may encounter rain. Travel seems easy today, but we are covering a pretty good distance. We pull over a beaver dam on Ge-be Creek, and portage into Ge-be to find a view to die for. Ge-be is beautiful. Just like everyone says. It was afternoon and the wind was picking up. With the kids on board, we wanted to find a site and get out of the wind. Our goal was the site with the lawn furniture, but as it turns out, it was taken. We settle for the southern most site on Ge-be which I would rate as 4.5 star. It has the largest pine tree I have ever seen on the way to the latrine. Two nice tent spots, and a great view. It sits up off the water, and minimal bugs. We make camp, and eat dinner. We decide to try our luck fishing. Our luck was good, and we catch and release a few small mouth bass around the small island to the east of the campsite.
After fishing, we head back to the campsite, and make ready for sleep. As we are sitting around the fire, a family of 4 paddled by with 2 adults, and two young children. The gentleman of the group said they were hoping for our site. We offered to share our campsite, as it was very late in the day and we explained that the other sites we had seen on Ge-be were taken except for the north eastern most site. He decided that they would paddle on, and if no other sites were open, may come back and share our site. We didn't see them again. Hope they found a site safely, and had an enjoyable time for the remainder of their trip. It was neat to see others sharing the BW with their children!!
We eventually head off to bed. The boys are asleep within 10 minutes, I may have lasted 15. What an AWESOME day!!!
Layover day on Ge-be-on-e-quet.
Slept in today and decided to spend another day on Ge-be to fish, swim, relax, and enjoy this beautiful campsite. The weather is still beautiful. After breakfast, we spend time in camp, clean dishes, re-organize our gear/food and enjoy each other's company. [paragraph break]
Noah, Joel and I look at the map and talk about goals for tomorrow. We decide to go for an afternoon swim. After we sun ourselves on the rock for a while, it's time for the boys to take an afternoon nap. I must have been tired, I fell asleep too.[paragraph break]
After lunch, we decide to do some fishing. We caught several small mouth bass near the island east of the campsite, as well as the eastern shoreline. Everyone had fun catching and releasing fish. We save enough for dinner and head back to camp. As we paddle towards camp, we hear thunder to the south. We never see a drop of rain, or a bolt of lightning. [paragraph break]
We talk about stopping by Dairy Queen when we get back to town. I promise the boys we'll go... If they are "good" the rest of the trip. I am very excited that the boys are getting along so well. It makes me happy that Noah and Joel are enjoying themselves working and playing together today. It's fun to be with Dad, Chris, Noah and Joel and to hear the laughter around camp. I truly feel alive when I'm in the BWCA. I feel very blessed to have such a great family to share these times with. We anticipate we will be seeing more and more people as we head south towards Nina Moose. Before bed, we get our gear squared away to help get an early start tomorrow.
Ge-be-on-a-quet to Oyster. Approximately 4 miles.
We get an early start this morning. We try not to feel rushed, but want to make good time to Oyster to increase chances of finding an open site. We eat breakfast, clean up, load the canoe and we're off. We stop long enough to snap a couple photo's at the portage head.[paragraph break]
As we paddle south, we hope to see the pictographs on Rocky. We talk about where they might be, what they might look like as we paddle through Green lake. We paddle and portage our way to Rocky, which I thought was a pretty lake. With little effort we find the pictographs, on the south western shoreline. My camera batteries died while taking photos of the picto's. They were not as dark red or as detailed as picto's I've seen in Quetico, but very cool none the less. We talk about what they might mean, and why they are there. I love showing the boys history like this!! [paragraph break]
I would rate this site as a 5 star site. I have only stayed at one site I liked better in all my travels. (The site on the north end of Agnes in the Q) Many options for tent sites, nice breeze off the water to keep bugs at bay, swimming area on the east side of camp, large open area, beautiful views. I could go on and on. This site was highly recommended by other members of this website, and I am thankful we were able to call this home for a day. [paragraph break]
Noah and Joel like the site too, we decide to stay. While unloading gear, a couple young men from Georgia ask if they can pass through the site to fish on the east side of the peninsula. We make conversation and offer to help carry their canoe across, but with only fishing gear on board, they didn't really need our help. They were having a fishing tournament, and we secretly rooted for them to win as they paddled away. Very polite young men, one of them mentioned Afghanistan, and we thanked him for his service to our country. [paragraph break]
Since we started early today, we decide to make a hot lunch. We eat vegetable soup, and have some cool aid for lunch as the wind picks up early today. We set up camp, and enjoy spending time together in camp waiting for the wind to die down a little. We try our luck at fishing, but the wind hasn't subsided, and we get pushed around a bit in the MN 4. With no gear to keep her low in the water, she acts like a big sail. Joel is pretty tired, and falls asleep in the bottom of the canoe. Upon our return to camp, I put Joel in the tent so he can rest, and Noah and I hang out in camp for a while, then he falls asleep too. [paragraph break]
Dad and Chris try their luck fishing to the west of the campsite as I watch from camp while Noah and Joel nap. The wind has lessened considerably. They catch enough for dinner and return to camp. We clean fish, and make dinner.[paragraph break]
I can't believe it's day 5 and we haven't had to get out our rain gear yet. With this wind, rainy weather must be moving in. We tidy up camp, and after Dad, Chris, and I have a cigar, we head to bed.
Oyster to Nina Moose. Approximately 6 miles.
We decide that our plan for today is to paddle out to E.P. 16 unless we are able to find a nice campsite on Nina Moose. We paddle to the eastern shoreline and find the portage head to the Oyster River. The 60 rod portage is mostly downhill, and by now the boys seem to have it all figured out. We enjoy this portage making up little songs as we hike.[paragraph break]
We paddle down the Oyster river and decide against the portage over to Agnes. The water levels seem to be very high, and we paddle the MN 4 south to the 20 rod portage on the Oyster River. The marshy area joining the Oyster and Nina Moose rivers was pretty narrow in spots with a few pull overs along the way. The 23' MN 4 seemed a little long for some of the tight turns we encountered. It was different scenery with the grass being tall enough that we couldn't see over it at times. We found our way to 96 rod portage and then south to the 70 rod portage.[paragraph break]
Falls Nina Moose River The water fall at the north end of the 70 rod portage is beautiful. So is the constant view of the rapids as you hike south. We pass a U.S. Forest Service man who asks to see our permits. He advises us only 1 or 2 campsites were taken on Nina Moose. This is a good sign because none of us are really ready for this trip to end.[paragraph break]
We find the campsite on tip of the peninsula on the northern side of the lake open, and get out to look it over. I would rate this camps site as a 4.85 star site. Only reason I don't give it a 5 star rating is because it is not quite as good as the one we stayed at on Oyster. Several nice tent pads, nice view, no bugs, newly dug latrine, very nice site!! [paragraph break]
We unpack our gear, set up camp, and enjoy the day. Tomorrow should be an easy paddle out from here. Noah, Joel, and I take a long afternoon nap. Chris begins to feel bad, hot and cold with a headache and tries to rest most of the afternoon. I give him some medicine from our first aid kit. [paragraph break]
We spend the evening fishing, taking pictures, and making the best of our last night in the BW. What a beautiful evening. I want to stay awake long enough to have the boys look and the stars, but we all fall asleep too early. [paragraph break] Joel and the moon
Nina Moose to E.P. 16. Approximately 3.5 miles.
We wake up late this morning since we don't have far to travel today. We have breakfast, and spend most of the morning relaxing around camp. Chris continues to feel bad, but he doesn't complain. I'm proud of him for pushing through, I know he felt like crap. It takes a special person to suck it up and finish the trip without complaining. We are in no hurry today and take our time to break down camp and pack our gear for travel.[paragraph break]
Noah and Joel want to have their picture taken on the big rock by the campsite, so I help them climb to the top of the rock. We paddle south shortly after taking this photo. As we paddle and portage towards E.P. 16 we talk about our trip and sadly realize it's quickly coming to an end. There was a 10 rod portage between the 20 and 25 rod portages that wasn't marked on the map. As we paddle into the last portage, a group of 4 is setting out on their adventure. We wish them well and I secretly wish we were just beginning our trek instead of ending it. We portage back to the van, and load our gear. As we finish loading our gear, one of the men from the group of 4 we saw earlier, came up and asked if we had any sunscreen. We gave him what we had left, and I hope it met their needs. We drive back to VNO and the boys and I call mommy on the way to let her know we are all alive and well. Back at VNO, the staff quickly unloads the MN 4, and offer us a hot shower. We talk with John for a while about our trip, and thank him for his services. Off to Ely Steak House for a great meal, and then begin the drive back home. Northwoods, we will miss you until we meet again.