BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
March 31 2023
Entry Point 16 - Moose/Portage River (North of Echo Trail)
Number of Permits per Day: 5
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!
Father / Daughter Trip
August 08, 2012
Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days:
I had to work this day, but only living 4 hours from Ely has its advantages. Our plan was to get up at 2:00 am & drive up. We would then pick up our permit & hopefully be on the water by 8:00 am. These plans changed, we decided that since my work day ends at 2:00 pm, we would have plenty of time to drive up & find a place to stay. We were getting our permit from Voyagers North Outfitters & I have stayed in their apartment rooms many of times, so was hopping that Lynn & John would have a room open when we got there.
Earlier this summer I bought a commuter car for work, driving the full size Dodge truck was costing me a car payment, so I bought a Chevy Cruze which I average 32.5 mpg with. Wanting to save money on this & future BWCA trips, I decided to build a canoe trailer. I had just finished it 2 days prior to this trip. This would be the maiden voyage for the trailer & car.
We arrived in Ely & the trailer worked AWESOME !!! I got 32.4 mpg pulling the trailer !!! We got to at VNO at 7:00 pm, Lynn was surprised to see us. We got our permit & were lucky to get Lynn's last room for the night. It is always nice to visit with Lynn or John before our trips out of Ely. We walked down to Shopko for some tooth paste & then the DQ for a treat. We were in bed by 9:00 pm.
As planned we were up at 5:00 am & on our way to the EP, after we arrived & had our gear staged, car parked & were ready to start the 160 rod into the Moose River a truck form Wisconsin pulled up, it was a fellow BWCA.com member strom2127 we had a short talk & I seen their plan was to drive to LIS entry & drop the truck & then ride a bike the 8 miles back to start the trip. We wished them good luck & a safe trip as we headed down the portage. I asked Jessica, if she wanted to wait while I drove them to LIS & back, but she didn't want to be stuck with a bunch of canoes & other guy's on the portages. If strom2127 would have asked, I would have done it anyway. But they were in great spirits & it seemed the bike ride was going to be part of their adventure.
The 160 rod, is on the long side, but fairly flat, straight & wide going up through a really nice stand of aspen & pine. We were on the Moose River by 7:00 am. It is a short paddle to the next portage (its only 10 rod & isn't on my map), I seen it is just a big beaver dam & some rocks, so we just pulled over it & floated through the rock garden easily. The next two portages 20 rod & then 25 rod are also fairly flat & easy.
I spotted four Otters playing in the water ahead of us & had Jessica stop paddling while I quietly got us closer. We managed to get fairly close to a couple of the younger ones, which then barked back & forth before scrambling up the bank & into the tall grass that this section of river is dominated by. About a half mile later we spotted another family of Otters, five this time, we paddled hard to try & catch up to them but they can move really fast. They finally moved up the bank & out of sight. As we slowed to look for them, they popped out right in front of us & crossed before being gone again. They did this hide & seek game with us for about 1/8th of a mile. They are a cute animal for sure.
The only campsite open on Nina Moose when we paddled through was on the southeast shore. We stopped on the north shore sandbar for a snack before continuing up the Nina Moose river. On the 70 rod portage, we ran into our first people heading the other direction & it was a pleasure. They were a group of 18 - 30 year old grandkids from Utah, coming back from a week on Agnes with their 80 year old grandpa. He was a retired botanist & awesome to talk to. Man I hope I can still make a trip like that at age 80. Great family! The 96 rod portage goes all the way along the rapids, with a few good spots to walk out on the rocks.
We noticed the wind had picked up quite a bit. When we got to the mouth of the river flowing into Agnes there were white caps on top of the white caps! big 3 foot rollers coming staright at us. I decided we would try to make it to one of the campsites on the south west end. We paddled with everything we had to get out in them big rollers & seen that all the sites were taken. We fought on & after 1 hour 20 minutes of hard, brutal work, we made it to the Oyster river portage & took it.
The 220 rod Oyster River portage has a long uphill & then levels off before dropping a little steeper to a muddy landing. I would hate to try that put in without the submerged log walk. The portage had several trees across it, but none made it much more difficult. We stopped at the top of the 1st hill on a nice slab of granite & had a nice lunch.
The Oyster River alone was worth the work getting there, we noticed that the Oyster river was flowing south, where as the Moose rivers were flowing north. We found that odd, as they flow into each other. This section of river was beautiful, all the lily's were in bloom & the water level seemed higher so no muddy banks. The 60 rod into Oyster is another gem, with great stands of huge Norways, White Pines & Cedar. By far the nicest portage on the trip!
We took the campsite just north of the portage on the east shore. It has a nice flat rock that sits about 4 feet above the water. There is a great canoe landing, with shade available when you wanted it at any time of day. I got our hammocks set up & then we went for a swim. It is about 8 feet deep right off shore, so jumping off the rock worked great. Only draw back was the need to swim to the canoe landing to get back out. BWCA.com rates this a 3 star, I would give it a 4. We spent the rest of the day & evening relaxing in hammocks. The wind finally died down toward sunset.
Our plan was to paddle up to Ge-be-on-e-quet & check out the stone chairs, then paddle up & spend the night on Pocket. From there we would go into Lac La Croix & spend a day on Boulder Bay. The final night we planned on staying on Nina Moose.
Well, that was the original plan. We slept in until 9:00 am, by the time we had breakfast the wind had picked up again. Jessica was pretty sore & it was going to be more work than she wanted to do. So we decided to just spend a few days on Oyster. What a great choice, we had the whole lake to ourselves. We paddled over to the rock cliff & hiked to the top for a great vista. More swimming, napping, card playing & eating was the course of the day. Followed by another awesome sunset.
Slept in again got up at 10:15, I sleep better in my hammock than I do in my own bed & wake up feeling great. The only problem is finding the will to actually get up. Never will I tent it again.
I fixed us pancakes & then we paddled around the lake checking out the other campsites. We found an impressive set of moose horns on one site. The plan was to take the Hustler portage & hook up with the LIS hiking trail, then hike that for a few miles. Bummer was we didn't get but 1/3 of the way up the portage before hitting a flooded out section that required the canoe. So we returned to camp to swim some more & relax reading a book. We also explored the shore line from camp hiking to the top of another cliff in one direction & the portage in the other. At dinner Jessica asked if I would be mad if we went all the way out on Sunday, I said its her trip & if thats what she wanted, then thats what we would do. I pulled the tarps off our hammocks so we could star gaze this night. We sat on the rock together & watched our final Oyster Lake sunset. That night we were both up late in our hammocks finishing our books & looking at the stars.
I was up at 5:00 am, I took down my hammock & packed my bag before waking Jessica. After packing her up we had a quick breakfast & were on the water by 6:30 am. We were paddling through the fog lifting off Oyster Lake, it was going to be another perfect day. As we paddled the Oyster River again, I was amazed at how many spider webs were in the grass. The dew from the night hung on them & made them sparkle in the early morning sun.
We followed the same path out noting that the paddle from the portage to the mouth of the Nina Moose River on Agnes only took us 20 minutes on the way out, because the water was like glass this time. It took us 6 hours to reach the parking lot & as we were just about ready to leave, guess who whips in? It was strom2127 & his friends, perfect timing. We visited for a few minutes before we went our separate directions.
This was a great trip & I will always remember helping Jessica get into her packs on every portage & then giving her a kiss on the cheek before she headed on her way. She would just smile & I could see the love in her eyes. I am so proud of her choices in life & the fact even while working & attending college she always has time for her family. This year she starts her LPN nursing program & will be super busy, but I know she will always make time for dad.
I hope this trip becomes as annual as the guy's trip with my son. I am a blessed man!