BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

September 27 2020

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 R. North to Iron/LLC. First as a trip "leader"

by cyclones30
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 30, 2015
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 5

Trip Introduction:
After taking my wife on her first trip last year, we immediately began planning our next trip. We knew we wanted to take a first-timer or two and fishing was the main goal so we didn't plan a big loop like last year's trip.

Day 1 of 7

Saturday, May 30, 2015 - My wife and I had wanted to do another trip to the BW soon after her first ever trip last year. We wanted this trip to be a little easier, less moving, more fishing and relaxing in general. We were originally thinking Knife Lake area, but ended up giving Moose River North a try instead. After reading tons of trip reports, noting campsite ratings, and taking days to pack and re-pack our stuff we were ready. 4 of us drove up from IA on Friday, picked up our fifth member from the airport, got our food and canoes from Dan at Canadian Waters and stayed in their bunkhouse overnight. Saturday morning, we were up at 4:45am and eating at Brittons just after 5 and got to the EP parking lot between 7 and 8. But not before a moose crossed the road right in front of us! That’s now happened on our last 2 trips (my wife thinks she’s good luck) As we were unpacking at the lot, it started snowing! The first timers were probably wondering what they had just signed up for... I knew the first 2 nights were supposed to be cold, but that really opened our eyes. The day before, I had switched out my warmer sleeping bag for a smaller, lighter one. (mistake)

With 5 of us total in 2 canoes (a Seneca and Boundary Waters) we were able to single portage all portages which made things go very smoothly, even with 2 first-timers and 2 other group members with 1 previous trip. We made quick work of the portage from the parking lot to the EP landing as well as the other short ones along the river and into Nina Moose. The breeze was out of the north so paddling across the lake took some work and I wondered to myself how Agnes would look when we got there. The next 2 portages went by quickly as well and we passed 3 or 4 groups before getting to Agnes. Luckily the wind had died a bit and we started looking for sites for lunch. We ended up on the north side of the lake in the middle of the 3. We liked it enough to setup camp there. I had to keep reminding myself this was a relaxing trip and we didn’t need to keep pressing for any real reason at that point. We cooked steaks over the fire and caught some walleyes before bed. Nice ending to a very nice day. I bought a pound of leeches in Ely and used an extra Nalgene bottle w/ 2 lids. One with holes drilled in and one left solid. Setup worked great and the last ones are still alive today (10 days after) This was the first trip ever taking live bait and it was very easy. I'll do it again.


Day 2 of 7

Sunday, May 31, 2015 - We never set an alarm, but were almost always up around or before 6 it seemed every day. We headed north and took the 2 portages into Boulder Bay, passing the scenic little falls between the two and noting it as a fishing spot for later. Today’s goal was Iron lake and specifically to see Curtain Falls at some point. The wind wasn’t bad and we crossed the Bottle Portage and stopped at the western site on Three Island for lunch. It wasn’t the nicest one we’d seen before, so we split up and looked for a site where we’d spend the next 2 nights. Some of the ones we checked were taken, but the site closest to the falls was open and we gladly took it. More fishing was done and fish caught in the immediate area. 


Day 3 of 7

Monday, June 01, 2015 - Since we knew we were staying another day/night at this site, we made pancakes instead of our usual no-cook breakfasts. Goal of the day was Curtain Falls and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We paddled the short distance to the portage, left the canoes and carried our fishing gear to the top. After taking it all in for a while and taking pictures, we started back down the trail and fished some of the better looking spots. I caught a nice walleye and the smallies were hitting like crazy. I think we had 6 fish on 6 casts at one point. Farther down the rapids I caught my personal best smallie (22”) and after a quick picture it went back in.  


Day 4 of 7

Tuesday, June 02, 2015 - Today’s goal was somewhere on LLC in the Tiger/Boulder/Never Fail Bay areas. We split up again to check sites and were hoping to take one in Never Fail. It was open, but almost nowhere for a tent and we reluctantly left what looked to be a very fishy area. The 2 sites in Tiger Bay were open, we took the eastern one and setup for another 2 nights. It rained off and on during the evening and thunderstorms rolled through overnight. Plenty of beavers swam past on their way to and from a small stream flowing into the south end of the bay. No fish were caught in Tiger Bay so we moved elsewhere to get our fishing fix while staying here. 


Day 5 of 7

Wednesday, June 03, 2015 - We wanted to see where the Boulder River flowed into Boulder Bay (and maybe move camp toward better fishing). We caught plenty of fish in the area but didn’t move camp due to the inclement weather in the area. Fish for dinner again with a couple walleye and a nice crappie.


Day 6 of 7

Thursday, June 04, 2015 - We wanted to get closer to the entry point today so we could get back to Ely at a good time on Friday. Forecast said we’d have clear skies and a north wind and they were right about the wind, wrong on the blue skies. It rained until about 11 am. We had a nice easy paddle down Boulder Bay and portaged into the pool below the small falls. Caught a couple nice fish (all went back) and proceeded across Agnes. She was rolling pretty good by the time we got to the south end of the lake. The whole time we were looking for a site to at least have lunch. We could only find one open site and it was very sub-par from what we’d been spoiled with on our first three. We ate a quick lunch and decided continuing to Nina Moose was a better idea (or gamble). We passed no less than 8 canoes going back north on the river between Nina Moose and Agnes, only to have most of the sites taken and some nice rollers headed their way when they hit the lake. We checked a couple sites on Nina Moose and decided on a nice one with the breeze and south facing point to help dry out all our wet gear. Blue skies finally arrived and we had a nice relaxing time drying stuff out and setting up camp. We tried to catch some fish in the afternoon, but only one northern wanted to play and it was right from the campsite.


Day 7 of 7

Friday, June 05, 2015 - I woke up before 5 to get one last fishing trip in before packing up and heading out. 2 of us went to where the Portage River flows into Nina Moose (you could hear rushing water from our site) and threw jitterbugs. We ended up catching more than 10 northerns on top waters which is always fun. The fog kept getting thicker while fishing and we had to take an educated guess on where our site was for a little while. We stopped by the overlook rock along the Moose River that I’d seen others’ pictures from and it didn’t disappoint! Everyone survived and had a good time (or so they tell me) and it sounds like we'll have to plan another trip sometime soon.

We had a great trip and things went very well for how inexperienced (and young) our group averaged compared to many others. My Chota Hippies and OTB boots worked like a charm and my wife’s NRS Boundary Shoes did as well. Looks like we’ve found some good options for dry-footing trips. We checked off many “firsts” for a few group members so that was always nice to add to their list. We caught northerns, walleyes, crappies, and smallies. I'll add more pictures and campsite numbers when I have access to faster internet.


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