BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

September 27 2020

Entry Point 27 - Snowbank Lake

Snowbank Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (25 HP max). This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 24 miles. Access is a boat landing or canoe launch at Snowbank Lake. Many trip options for paddlers. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 8
Elevation: 1191 feet
Latitude: 47.9716
Longitude: -91.4326
Snowbank Lake - 27

Snowbank Loop

by Turkish
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 26, 2012
Entry Point: Snowbank Lake
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
Great trip, one that I'll repeat. Good fishing, and the weather was very cooperative. Didn't encounter many people, except for Disappointment and Ensign lakes.

Day 1 of 8

Map of Route

Sunday, August 26, 2012 Here at last![paragraph break] After leaving Southern Illinois at 2pm Saturday and driving through the night, we arrived in Ely at 5am Sunday. Stopped at Britton's for breakfast. Very delightful place, will give them business in the future!

The original plan was to pick our permits up at the Kawashiwi ranger station after breakfast. Since we arrived in Ely a couple hours ahead of schedule, and the r.s. wasn't open until 8am, decided to head to the r.s. and catch a quick nap in the parking lot while we waited for them to open.

However, as we were leaving Ely, noticed that a couple outfitters' signage indicated they offered permit pick-ups. We pulled into the Spirit of the Wilderness and the associate inside was very helpful, going as far as logging into my account and switching the permit pick-up location from Kawashiwi to the outfitter's store. So instead of waiting until 8 to get the permit, we were headed out of Ely, permit in hand, at 6. Many thanks!

Then we were off to E.P. 27.


boat dock at entry point

Unloaded the truck and loaded the canoe up. Had a little trouble locating the portage from Snowbank to Parent lake. We chalked these troubles up as the result of lack of sleep :)


After finding the portage, did some fishing on Parent for 30 minutes or so, pulling out a decent smally. Finding a campsite and taking a nap was starting to sound too good to pass up, so we moved on up to Disappointment to start scouting.

The wind was at our backs as we paddled up Disappointment. Enough so that three canoes that came in after us tied together, side by side, then the outside canoes tied one tarp between them to make a large sail. It worked really well, pushing them across at a fast rate. Very entertaining to watch.

We set up shop on the South island campsite at around 1. It's a nice site. Very rocky, but with good trees to tie up a hammock. This was my first trip using a hammock. I found it to be very comfortable, and convenient. Will definitely be used in future trips.

After camp was set, took a (very much needed) nap. Then headed over to the bay to the West and put a hurting on the smallmouths. A couple of these made it back to camp, and into the frying pan.



Day 2 of 8

Monday, August 27, 2012 Travel to Ahsub[paragraph break] Started the day off by packing up camp and paddling to Ahsub. Checked out both campsites on Ahsub and decided on the west site. It had better trees for a couple hammocks, otherwise the other site was just fine. Had lots of grass and would have been a good tent campsite.


view of ahsub, from west campsite

Were settled in before noon, and fished Ahsub the rest of the day. No luck. Not even a bite. But still had a great time.


Day 3 of 8

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 Layover day[paragraph break] I woke up before dawn and did some fishing, finally caught a smallmouth.

After breakfast we decided to day trip to the next couple lakes on our loop and try some fishing.

Jitterbug was the next lake past Ahsub. It had a lot of vegetation in the water, enough to make fishing almost pointless due to the weeds/moss you'd reel in after every cast. Aside from the thick vegetation, the water was also very stained.


adventure lake

It didn't take long to paddle on thru to Adventure lake. The northerns were biting very well, it was a fun lake to fish almost the entire afternoon. Hauled a couple of good eater-size pike back to camp on Ahsub.


Day 4 of 8

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 Travel to Ashigan[paragraph break] Woke up early and packed up camp after breakfast, then hit the water, paddling right thru Jitterbug and Adventure again.

Cattyman is the lake past Adventure. We could hear water rushing somewhere as soon as we were on Cattyman. The source of the noise was soon found as we portaged from Cattyman to Gibson. WaterfalltweenCattymanGibson_zpsbb148506 photo WaterfalltweenCattymanGibson_zpsbb148506.jpg

We would hear this waterfall for the next few days, as far away as Ensign lake. The mosquitos were thick on this portage, the only real bug nuisance we encountered on the whole trip.

Paddled thru Gibson and found a very nice campsite on Ashigan. After paddling and portaging all morning, relaxing around camp was in order.


ashigan camp site

Decided to do some fishing on Ashigan, and caught nice northerns and some smallmouth.



Day 5 of 8

Thursday, August 30, 2012 Layover day[paragraph break] Woke up to sprinkles.

Covered up camp and went fishing. Debated on whether to back track to Jordan and maybe Ima, but NOAA had mentioned a chance for thunderstorms in the area, so decided to stay on Ashigan for the day.

Didn't have much luck at first, and just as we were about to give up for the morning, Scott caught a really nice northern. Decided to stay out a little longer and ended up catching many northerns and smallmouths. This was another fun lake to fish once its figured out what they wanted.


Got back to camp at around 11 and started to get lunch going.

Within 20 minutes of getting back, the wind picked up. A lot. Then the thunder started.

We buttoned down camp and finished up lunch under the protection of tarps. The wind was almost too much for my little MSR stove, plus dirt and other debris kept being blown into the frying fish. We ended up saving the filets for supper, and they were delicious.

After just a few sprinkles but a lot of wind, the storm passed. The wind stuck around for most of the afternoon, it was enough to keep us off the water. Towards dusk the wind was completely gone, and went out for a couple hours of fishing.

It was nice having a radio around camp, for more reasons than just the weather. Listening to WELY or a baseball game was a treat on days when the wind keeps you off the water.


Along with the leftover fish from lunch, we had some bagged chicken that was added to mac & cheese for dinner. I highly recommend the chicken and mac combo. Superb


Day 6 of 8

Friday, August 31, 2012Travel to Ensign[paragraph break] It was very cold last night, and the lake had a layer of steam in the morning. The cold air made sleeping in til 8am easy.


Today we moved camp from Ashigan to Ensign. On the portage there was a couple men and their sons. They reported catching lots of walleye on Ensign and this gave us something to look forward to.

This was Friday of Labor Day weekend, and Ensign was very busy. We had to paddle past many filled campsites before we found an available site. The site just happened to be next to the portage that would be getting us back to Snowbank in a couple of days. Very convenient.

Set up camp and relaxed for a couple hours while waiting for the wind to mellow.

Temps are in the low 70's today, and that feels nice after being in the 80's so far. The weather for the trip has been very consistent, glass lakes in the morning but windy from 11-4 or so, then glass again for a few hours. Cool enough at night to keep the flying insects at bay.

When the wind died down we got some fishing in. The walleye info was accurate, and the northerns and smallmouth were very active as well.

Fish for dinner again tonight, woohoo!



Day 7 of 8

Saturday, September 01, 2012 Layover day[paragraph break] Another cold morning. The first hour of fishing this morning was very slow, but once they got warmed up a little it was on. Had walleye and smallmouth for lunch.


I went for a swim after lunch and decided to clean the canoe while I was in the water. I kept feeling something move around my feet but wasn't worried about it too much. After 15 minutes or so the canoe was shining, and as I walked out of the water I noticed that my feet looked different. Many small leeches(15-16) and a couple adults had found a couple open sores on my feet to gorge themselves on. What a pleasant surprise! Used a knife to scrap them off. Note to self- don't stand in one place in the water for very long. Lesson learned :)



Day 8 of 8

Sunday, September 02, 2012 Back to the EP[paragraph break] Another chilly morning. With this being my first trip using a hammock, I've discovered a couple things. I didn't bring a pad, and on nights in the 40's, there were times I wished I had a pad underneath for the insulation. I'll take a pad or underquilt on my next adventure (hopefully May.)

I also just brought a typical hardware store tarp to throw over the ridge line. This worked just fine, but on breezy nights the noise from the tarp was noticeable at times. I'll be purchasing some silnylon in the near future.


After camp was packed, we made the short trip over to our first portage of the day. It was 220 rods, but not a bad trail. It still felt every bit of 200r by the time it was all over.

Paddled through Boot lake, noticing how strong the wind was, and in our face. This got us talking about the next lake we'd be on, Snowbank. Snowbank (as many of you know) is wide-open. And big.

When we portaged from Boot to Snowbank, our fears were shown to be true. The wind was in our face for the entire 3 mile paddle. The waves were white capped, and beating the hell out of the bow paddler.

After a couple of hours of hard paddling, made it back to the entry point. We were both pretty exhausted, and in the process of moving gear from the canoe to the dock, I heard something drop from my open bag into the water. F***. I was lucky in that it was only 6 feet deep and could see the glimmer made by the shiny reel against the dull rocks.


After my humbling jump into the chilly lake to retrieve the reel, we began to move gear up to the truck. I unlocked it, opened up the doors, and we started packing it up. After we were mostly loaded, I decided to start it up and get some tunes rolling. But, where was the key? I used it to unlock the truck moments earlier, but in the packing process it disappeared. After about 20 minutes of very colorful language and frantic searching, the key was found. Apparently I had carelessly set it on the middle console, and from there it found its way into a bag that had since been moved to the bed of the truck. Good times :)

We got back to Ely, chowed down at DQ, then got a quick shower. Both were equally rewarding, although the showers were more needed!


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