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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

May 20 2022

Entry Point 31 - Farm Lake

Farm 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 7 miles. Access is a boat landing on Farm Lake with access to South Farm Lake. Paddlers access North Kawishiwi River from Farm Lake. Some trip options available for paddlers with additional portages.

Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1392 feet
Latitude: 47.8932
Longitude: -91.7183
Farm Lake - 31

The Circle Tour

by tmccann
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 25, 2020
Entry Point: Farm Lake
Number of Days: 11
Group Size: 7

Trip Introduction:
THE CIRCLE TOUR Seven paddlers began this trip on September 25 and ended October 5. Lakes: Starting - Farm Lake, Kawishiwi River, Lake One, Two, Three, Four, Hudson, Insula, Alice, Fishdance, Malberg, Koma, Polly, Townline, Kawashachong, Square, Kawishiwi Lake, Perent Lake, Perent River, Isabella Lake, Isabella River, Bald Eagle Lake, Gabbro Lake, Little Gabbro Lake, Clear Lake, Kawishiwi River, ended at Silver Rapids. 87.5 mile loop with total trip length at 94 miles. The intentions of the trip included following the old trapline routes of two trappers, Tom Parent and Bill Pembles. We celebrated the work done by Arthur H. Carhart 100 years ago as he took this same trip in preparation for writing a recreation plan. Portage between Kawishiwi and Perent Lake is open. Coordinates for Kawishiwi end: 47.835704, -91.104914 Coordinates for Perent end: 47.813140, -91.120141

Part 1 of 11

Farm Lake to Kawishiwi River. We found a campsite that comfortably slept seven. Once the tarps and tents were up we were treated to a high power electric storm followed by a double rainbow. An auspicious sign for the trip ahead.


Part 2 of 11

Kawishiwi River to Lake Four

The two crews split to find campsites of adequate size. The natural beauty of the lake 1-4 chain explains why it’s a popular route.


Part 3 of 11

Lake Four to Insula Lake

We had a nice southwestern breeze to bring us to our next stop. Again we split from the other crew. The size of Insula and the variety of routes we could take through the islands.


Part 4 of 11

Insula to Fishdance

We saw where the other crew camped on Insula. We paddled on to the east and spent lots of time at the pictographs before making camp on a nice red pine site.


Part 5 of 11

Fishdance to Polly Lake

The other crew had camped on Alice. We camped on the south end of Polly; they made it into Polly and camped on the north end.

Birds seen on Circle Tour:

Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal,Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Common Loon, Horned Grebe,Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Spotted Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Lapland Longspur, Rusty Blackbird


Part 6 of 11

Polly Lake to Kawishiwi

September 30 - photo of beaver dam location is 47.870831, -91.102836 and the beaver dam overlays a constructed dam feature built sometime shortly after 1925. The project was prescribed by Arthur Carhart in his 1922 recreation report to raise the water levels of both Square and Kawishiwi Lakes. This rise in the water level eliminates a portage between Square and Kawishiwi and shortens the portage between Kawishiwi to Perent. Beavers have not fully covered all of the original rock work in the construction.

we planned to rendezvous with the other crew and meet friends at the Kawishiwi Lake rustic campground. Everyone arrived as planned and the rendezvous coordinators had a nice campsite picked out for us. We spent the afternoon drying gear, re-supplying with food and fuel, swapping stories and relaxing into the evening.


Part 7 of 11

Kawishiwi to Perent

This portage was developed by North Shore trappers Tom Parent and Bill Pembles (Tame Tom and Wild Bill) sometime around 1901 or so. The Forest Service maintained it until the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. The Kawishiwi Lake end was located in fall, 2019. Scouting work was completed in summer 2020. Amazingly after 60 years or so of no-use, the path was still there pretty much as mapped on the 1960 USGS Quad map. The portage is two miles long which is longer than the old canoe maps show. Avenza Maps was invaluable for this effort. [paragraph break] After a hearty Paddlers Breakfast, the crews headed for Perent Lake. All gear, canoes and people were at Perent Lake in 3 1/2 hours. Zoom in in the map. Notice the actual alignment (gps) vs the quad map location.


Part 8 of 11

Perent Lake to Isabella Lake

The Perent River portages are examples of the excellent work done in the 1930´s by the CCC. The circle tour was once a very popular route and the significant investment shows how important the route was back then.[paragraph break]. The water level is low during this time of year, especially at the end of an extended summer drought. We used some advanced canoeing techniques. Some of the largest trees seen on the trip were along the Perent River.


Part 9 of 11

Isabella Lake to Bald Eagle Lake

We camped on the east shore of Isabella Lake. As darkness fell we noticed a lot of glow from towns of Aurora/Hoyt Lakes, Babbit, Ely. We also noticed the whirling Ely airport light and the ARMER radio tower. Although this was disappointing, I’m confident that future management using Dark Skies will curtail future growth in the effects of artificial lights on the night sky.


Part 10 of 11

Bald Eagle to Kawishiwi River

The experience of paddling the Kawishiwi Watershed, two legs of it was instructive in letting us see how quickly water accumulates into the system and the role that beaver have in regulating the flow. Upper reaches of the Watershed are well stocked with beaver. Due to the young age class of the forests in the Pagami fire, beaver will be around for a long time.[paragraph break] Amazingly on the entire Circle Tour, we did not see a single moose track, pellet group or antler rub. They are gone. We only spotted 3 wolf scats on the 51 portages of the trip. For all intents, they are gone too. No bear sign either.


Part 11 of 11

End at Silver Rapids[paragraph break]Thanks to the inspiration provided by Arthur Carhart who traveled this same ‘Circle Tour’ in 1921. Tame Tom and Wild Bill used this route as a part of their trapping enterprise based out of Silver Island Lake from 1900 to 1920. John Linklater led winter patrols over the Circle from 1923-1933. [paragraph break] The Circle in it’s old form is open again, a landscape scale trip that requires about 10 days.

Update for 2021 Circle Tour. Trip was repeated with four people starting June 16 and ending June 24.


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