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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

March 05 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!

Relaxing Jaunt to Nina Moose

by Skarc75
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 28, 2018
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north)
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
Each year I make an early summer trip with my best friend from college. He is mostly fixated on fishing, while I'm searching for wilderness connection as well as a few walleyes for dinner. For this year's trip, we decided to tackle a river route, and after much deliberation we decided to enter at Moose River and head north. Our plans were to fish on the way in and stay wherever the walleyes were biting. It just so happened that Nina Moose provided plentiful fishing and surprising solitude.

Day 1 of 3

Thursday, June 28, 2018

With all gear and canoe strapped in, I began my drive north at approximately 4am Thursday morning. I've been exceptionally pleased with my new racking system. Last summer I purchased the Thule canoe portage feet for my roof rack. Although the system is (in my opinion) overpriced for what you actually get in the box, I've found great peace of mind that I've observed no canoe shifting and minimal movement over the 240mi drive.

My college friend lives in Buhl, and I meet at his house at approximately 7:30am. He quickly loads his gear and we head back east to Ely.

Once we arrive in Ely, we stop into the New Arrowhead bait shop across from Voyageur North for leeches, then shot over to the Kawishwi Ranger Station before heading up the Echo.

It seems we hit the jackpot for a put-in day. The sun is brightly shining and winds are nonexistent. I made an emergency pit stop at the Angleworm latrine (lots of coffee), then soon enough we were at the Moose River entrance.

The Moose River entrance was crowded. There was a van in the staging area offloading 4-5 canoes, and another group's packs set next to the trailhead. This is a new experience for us as we typically gravitate to the more secluded areas of the BWCA, but this is what we anticipated and we were very happy to be finally hitting the trail. We quickly passed two groups on the trail as we were single-portaging, and found that we had the canoe landing to ourselves. Seriously, what a beautiful day!

Our travel down the river included two very small portages. Again, to our surprise, we did not encounter another group at either portage or along the river until I passed by fellow member Dicecupmaker. We quickly exchanged pleasantries and were along our merry way.

Both my partner and I could not stop commenting on the beautiful scenery along the river as well as the tree diversity. Honestly, this may have been one of my favorite paddles in the BWCA thus far.

As we made our way towards Nina Moose, we began discussing our gameplan. We'd never seen Nina Moose, so we decided that we would paddle around the perimeter scoping campsites and fishing along the way. We were expecting to find occupied campsites, but thought we'd give it a try. As we began fishing along the rocky shoreline of the east side of the lake, we quickly picked up a couple of nice walleyes. We threw those back and thought maybe we should camp here for a night...

As we scoured the eastern shoreline, we found that each of the first 4 sites encountered were open. We decided to grab a site on the southern edge of the eastern bay. For a busy lake we thought the site was pretty clean - not much in the way of human traces.

As per tradition, we quickly unloaded our gear and got a bobber in the water. As clouds began surrounding the lake, I picked up a very healthy smallmouth from the rocky shore. Things were looking good!

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening setting camp and exploring out site. We found that canoe traffic was relatively light compared to what we expected, and we felt a great deal of solitude. I started jotting down notes and experiences in my new notepad that I picked up from Piragis. My goal is to record small details that I would otherwise forget between trips.

As evening approached we grilled up a steak and mashed potatoes (per tradition), then settled in and watched our bobbers from the rocks on the shoreline.

We picked up a few pike and panfish after dinner, then took in one of the most colorful BWCA sunsets that I've ever observed.

We soon retired back to the tent and quickly fell asleep.


Day 2 of 3

Friday, June 29, 2018

We both woke at about the same time Friday morning (approximately 6am). A distant rumbling could be heard on this early morning, and we thought we better get our tarp hung before the rain begins. We quickly secure our gear and get the tarp set over the fire grate area as the coffee is percolating in the kettle. The storm clouds appear fairly unimpressive and we watch as they envelope the lake from west to east. The storm hit around 7:30am. First came rain; heavy rain. The wind followed soon thereafter. I can't say for certain, but I would estimate we saw wind gusts in excess of 60mph. We stayed under our tarp watching trees nearby. The lake was nearly impossible to see through the driving wind and rain. (I really wish I had my camera handy during the storm) We began asking whether or not to head further into the woods for protection, but the storm had begun to subside. It was about 9:00am, and there were just a few residual sprinkles hanging around. We took inventory of our gear, and I'm happy to report that we had no failures. As we took a look at the lake we noticed a kevlar canoe floating in the middle of the bay. We then noticed the campsite across from us was missing a canoe... I was glad to see that they did still have a second canoe, and once the lightening stopped, they went out to retrieve the canoe. I never worried about securing my canoe until a storm whipped up last year. I am very glad I had moved my canoe to high ground and tied off to a tree.

We brewed a new batch of coffee (my kettle had blown over during the storm), and began drying ourselves and our gear on the clothesline.

The sun began peeking through the clouds by lake morning, and we decided to spend the afternoon fishing from the canoe. We continued to troll the rocky shoreline and picked up numerous healthy walleyes. In fact, we picked up a walleye or two on each pass. We decided to keep a couple nice eater sized fish for dinner.

We finished our day by eating a late dinner out of the rocks in front of our site and watching as the stars grew more and more apparent.

As the mosquitoes pushed us into our tent, we settled in to the sound of distant thunder once again. 


Day 3 of 3

Saturday, June 30, 2018

2:00am - We both awoke to a heavy thunderstorm. We decided to head out and make sure all was secure in our site. The wind never picked up, so we decide to wait this one out in the tent. There were passing thunderstorms throughout the early morning hours, and I finally fell asleep around 3am.

We both awoke around 7am. We were groggy and a little damp from the previous two storms. We began brewing coffee again and decided to hang the rain fly and tent as water had made its way between the ground tarp and tent floor.

I could tell that my trip partner had enough wilderness and hadn't slept well. Although I would have loved to spend our last night in the wilderness, I yielded to his request to pack up a day early.

As the sun came out, we dried all equipment on the clothesline and began slowly packing. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day in the BWCA.

This trip had a lot of positives and a few negatives for me. On the positive side, I am very glad to have experienced this small portion of the BWCA. I'm glad I didn't let the traffic and heavy use of this area deter me from exploring it. Quite frankly, I felt a great deal of solitude here and I absolutely loved the scenery. Also, I really did enjoy the experience of the heavy storm on Friday morning. On the negative side, I've never cut a trip short in the BWCA before, and I'm a little disappointed that we left so early.


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