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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

February 28 2024

Entry Point 30 - Lake One

Lake One entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Kawishiwi Ranger Station near the city of Ely, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 21 miles. Access is a canoe landing at Lake One.

Number of Permits per Day: 13
Elevation: 1230 feet
Latitude: 47.9391
Longitude: -91.4792
My son Remy and I, and my friend Keith and his son Charlie put our canoes into Lake one at 9:30 Monday morning after dropping off a car at the Snowbank Lake landing. Lake One can be tricky to navigate. On our way to Lake Two we turned East too early and ended up paddling about a mile out of our way into a dead-end bay before we realized our mistake. We blamed the fact that Lake One was split between Fisher Maps #10 and #4 for our error. If the entire lake had been visible at once on a single map, we would not have made the wrong turn. Once we got back on course we portaged the 30 rods into a pond and then portaged the 40 rods into Lake Two. The weather was nice, and there was a bit of a tail wind out of the West. We stopped for lunch on the shore of Lake Two. After lunch we canoed through the North end of Lake Three and into Lake Four. We stopped for the night at a campsite on the West shore of Lake Four, just North of the channel heading toward Hudson Lake. We had to battle swarms of mosquitoes as we set up the tents. We then had a nice refreshing swim. Because we had brought steaks along for the first night, we didn't go fishing.

On Tuesday morning we had a bacon and eggs breakfast then packed up camp and headed out in our canoes. As we canoed past our campsite, we realized that Remy & I had left our hammocks pitched between trees. We landed again and quickly packed them up. Once again we had beautiful weather. We paddled East and completed 3 short portages before entering Hudson Lake. The 105 rod portage into Lake Insula was exhausting! Lake Insula is a large gorgeous lake broken up by multiple islands and penninsulas. We had lunch at a campsite on a large island just East of Hudson Lake. It felt like we had a tail wind as we were heading East, and then as we turned North it seemed like the wind shifted and was at our backs once again. We navigated Lake Insula flawlessly and camped for the night on the island just West of Williamson Island. After setting up the tents and a refreshing swim, Remy & I got back into the canoe and tried to catch some fish. We had no luck! At 9PM that night, just as we were going to bed, a thunderstorm rolled through. That night I was awakened several times by the loud croaking of bullfrogs from the shallows around our island. What noisy neighbors!

By Wednesday morning the weather had cleared, but the wind was now coming from the Northwest, pretty much in our faces. We paddled to the North end of Lake Insula and tackled the largest portage of our trip. The 180 rod walk to Kiana Lake actually seemed easier than the 105 rod carry into Lake Insula. We headed onward into Thomas Lake where we really started feeling the headwind. We finally made it to the campsite just Northeast of the portage into Thomas Pond in time for lunch. After lunch we proceeded across Thomas Pond and into Thomas Creek after hiking across the famous Kekekabic Trail. We managed to easily run the rapids in Thomas Creek and avoid the 2 short portages. We camped for the night on Hatchet Lake at the northern campsite. It was cool and windy, so we didn't swim. There was lots of threatening weather going by to the North of us, but we stayed dry. After supper we canoed back to Thomas Creek to fish and look for moose. No luck on either count, but we did see a beaver swimmming.

The weather was nice again Thursday morning, but the wind was out of the West which was the direction we were heading. We portaged into Ima Lake and canoed across it. Before portaging into Jordan Lake, we watched a bald eagle sitting in a tree get harrassed repeatedly by a seagull. The narrow channel leading into Jordan Lake is quite beautiful. It is narrow like a river with big rock outcroppings. We paddled across Jordan, Cattyman, Adventure, and Jitterbug Lakes. We found the Eastern campsite on Ahsub Lake taken, so we camped at the Western campsite which had a great place for swimming in front of it. There was a very brave loon in front of the campsite who didn't seem to mind if we got close to it. We tried our luck at fishing, but only caught 1 smallmouth which was too small to eat. Between 5:00 and 7:30 that evening we saw a number of canoes heading across Ahsub Lake from Disappointment Lake to Jitterbug Lake. We weren't sure where they were planning to camp, but it was getting late.

On Friday we awoke again to good weather. We paddled the length of Disappointment Lake and portaged into to Parent Lake and then on to Snowbank Lake. It was July 4th, and as we entered Snowbank Lake the sounfd of firecrackers reminded us we weren't in the wilderness anaymore. After a brief splash war on our way across Snowbank, we made it to the landing and our car was still there. What a great trip!

Pictographs on Fishdance

by alblais
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 12, 2020
Entry Point: Lake One
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
Father/Daughter trip through the numbered lakes, with a stay on Lake Insula and a day trip to Lake Fishdance to see the pictographs.


After the temporary fire ban was lifted on 7-10-2020, I was very happy to see an available permit on the Lake one Entry point. With the kawishiwi ranger station closed the instructions were to just print out your confirmation email and head out for the entry point. I swung by Duluth pack to buy a new Fisher map as I had somehow lost my old one. My 15 year old daughter and I headed out from Duluth MN after a quick packing session. I am a somewhat seasoned veteran of 12-15 trips and my daughter has been along for about 3-4 times.  I prefer the numbered chain as its an area I know well so I feel at ease when I do a short notice trip. Other entry points I feel I need to research more to make sure I know where I'm going and what I'm getting into. When the kids were smaller we would stay on Lake three or four to keep the portaging to a minumum so I didn't tire them out . But this time I wanted to show my daughter the Pictos on Lake Fishdance as I had seen them 18 years ago with my wife and wanted to see them again, its always good to have a goal when you plan a trip.  I really like the town of Ely as an Entry point and usually stop at the DQ on the exit drive as a treat after being in the wilderness for a week. Sunday (7-12) we entered Lake One with great weather and hardly any wind. Very smooth canoeing in my 1991 Old town 158. This canoe is rather heavy but handles weight well. Goes through the water like a tank , slow and steady. We saw numerous Eagles, and some Mergansers with upwards of 15-20 chicks in tow. I never knew they had such large broods.  We stopped at a site on the south of lake three at a new site with a lot of cedar growth . I wanted to do some fishing as I knew some walleye areas I have historically fished here. After a fish dinner we listened to a pair of Loons sing us to sleep. The next day my daughter was pushing me onward so we headed out for Lake Insula with a slightly stronger wind at our back. The burn had really damaged the more direct route to Insula , I had seen on google maps that Hudson had been hit pretty bad. The trees have been slowly coming back with a thick growth of 3-4' pines in the burn areas but i was nostalgic for the scouting trips of my youth, so instead of going east on the portage to Hudson we headed North from lake four heading for Bridge and Fire Lakes. Here the old growth returned and made for a really scenic paddle. We traveled over a short 2 portages into Fire Lake only seeing one other canoe ahead of us. After Exploring Fire Lake a bit We took another short portage over into the north of hudson lake. I was looking at sites to stop at but my kid kept pushing me onward. No-one was camping on Hudson , not many large trees left standing here. We made it to the longer 100 rod portage to Insula . I pulled over to a empty campsite to make us a quick lunch. As we were eating I had my first experience of getting my permit checked by 2 20 something guys in green pants and brown shirts from the forest service. They were very pleasant to chat with, I had never seen forest service employees out in the BWCA before on any of my other trips. I was glad I bought the permit and remembered to print it. Portage to Insula hurt me , steep hills on both sides with a flat middle section. my 90 lb canoe wasn't fun transporting. On Insula the wind had kicked up and with all the islands I had become messed up on our location, I just followed the compass East and then North, until we saw a nice empty campsite with a sandy/ pebbly beach in a beautiful old growth area of cedar and pines. On Insula the south half was burned but the north islands were spared. Fishing was great , right off the campsite we would catch 3-4 medium 14-15 inch walleyes in 10 minutes on my barbie rods . I use rapala crank baits , deep diving shad raps in gold and silver highlights and just troll them behind the canoe. The gold one was the clear winner with the walleye . Northerns liked the silver but I let them all go . I tried cooking the smaller fish for lower toxin levels for the kid. Mercury sucks. The next day was a dad rest day, fish eat and recover . Had a couple storms roll through at night but fairly dry by morning .  The following day was the big event , leave our gear at the base camp on Insula and day trip into Fishdance with a light lunch packed.  We went through the Kawishiwi river which was a very pleasant change from lake paddling, then skirted the edge of Lake Alice, Alice has always scared me a bit . A fairly large lake that can develop big wind and waves when the weather turns bad. After paddling the edge of Alice you portage back into the Kawishiwi river and then after another 70 rod portage we were in Fishdance and showing my kid the impressive cliff wall there with the faded pictographs. We guessed at their meanings , took pictures and visited a campsite that me and her mom had stayed at years before.  Small thunderstorms were coming in so we headed back to Insula.  Big waves on Alice , slow going . Thank god for the Kawishiwi river as it was protection from wind. We got a little wet but made it safely back to our camp on Insula in about 3 hours. We saw a stand up paddle boarder making his way across the waves of insula with some troubles and finally had to be towed by a kayak buddy across the lake.  We stayed at this spot on Insula for 4 nights then headed back to lake three directly through Hudson east to west (three portages) We stayed one night on the south of lake three again on a rocky point.  Not much wind, a lot of small mosquitos hiding on the rocks and brush.  Probably the most buggy site I've come across. Beautiful rocky point though. Nice thick log furniture around the fire grate.  Made it back out thru lake two and one in about 3 hours the next day as we had a weather forecast of strong winds coming the day after . We headed back a day early to avoid that. We spent 6 nights and 7 days exploring. Some surprises... -cell reception of one bar on south of lake three and lake Insula -giant moose bone cracked in half on the shore of Fishdance -merganser chicks in groups of 15 , 16 and 20 spotted. -very good malts and frozen custard at Red cabin custard in Ely MN (cash only) -seagulls on three and Insula (small numbers of 3-5) A very fun and easy trip with a lot of father / daughter bonding . We did a similar trip before to see some waterfalls at Caddyman . Ensign lake to Assign to Caddyman and the goal of seeing the small waterfalls was fun also. I might check out what other similar sights we could target. Al and Kid


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