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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

May 17 2022

Entry Point 32 - South Kawishiwi River

South Kawishiwi River 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 140-rod portage to the river.

Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1201 feet
Latitude: 47.8419
Longitude: -91.6632
South Kawishiwi River - 32

Father and Son BWCA trip

by Hueyav8r
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 01, 2017
Entry Point: South Kawishiwi River
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
I’ve been to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area a couple times, Quetico and Algonquin but I never taken any of my adult children with me except for a week in a cabin in the BWCA. I’ve have taken them on a long weekend trip to the Ausable River in Michigan and the Current River in the Ozarks. My son John is a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering. He spends his days in the Clean Room doing research or in his office, sometimes seven days a week. I planned the trip in early August to be a route that would be a circle and end up where we started. With advice from Voyageur North Outfitters figured part of the route would be too dry in August to paddle and it would require a long possibly bushwack portage. The revised plan was to enter #33 Little Gabbro Lake and paddle up the South Kawishiwi River to Lake One, possibly Lake Two and back again to take out. That was the plan, stuff happened.

Part 1 of 6

My drive from Indianapolis thru Champaign IL to pick up John and onto Wisconsin the first night was non eventful. We didn’t want to push it all the way through. We did stop at the Cherry Valley Café in Cherry Valley IL Friday night for their all you can eat Walleye dinner. I would recommend if you can plan that into your drive. This drive was an opportunity for some Father and Son time. We arrived in Ely on Saturday midday, gave us time to visit the tourist sites and show him Piragus. We stayed at Voyageur North’s bunk house. Very affordable way to spend a night just before you hit the water.


Part 2 of 6

First day on the water I was driving to the access point and stopped at the wrong site. The funny thing before we headed to the water I took a picture of the sign that showed we were at the wrong access point. I never even noticed what I was taking. We entered at #32 South Kawishiwa River portaged everything to the water and began our trip. I had the map in front of me and didn’t see anything match up to what the map was saying. We were heading NE but nothing was right. I carry a GPS just in case I’m lost and decided to take a look. Realized then we were about 3 kilometers west of where we needed to be. Once I knew where we were all was good, we continued. Eventually catching up to where I was planning to stop for the evening. Dinner first night was steaks, potatoes and green beans. The sunset view of the water was wonderful.    


Part 3 of 6

Second day on the water, with no set plan we decided to leave our gear at the site and go on a day trip. We continued up the Kawishiwi River and onto Lake One. Lake One was crowded, I didn’t see an open camp sites. I was wanting to get away from people so we turned back and returned to our camp site. Early day ended and my son relaxed reading a text book on the US Constitution. He was taking a break from Lasers and whatever else to relax with the Constitution. That’s my son.


Part 4 of 6

The third day on the water we paddled west across the Kawishiwi River and down to Clear lake. Found a wonderful camp site and decided to spend two days there. Our down day was spent relaxing, I set up my hammock and it was used a lot that day.     


Part 5 of 6

The fifth day we were going to paddle out and luck would have it, rain all night. My son’s tent got wet inside and when I woke up he was sitting under the rain fly looking miserable. I was expecting the rain to stop but it didn’t. We packed up in the rain and headed out. We were soaked but our spirits were good. We passed a group of men coming in that were surprised we didn’t fish. Their comment was “who would be out in this weather if they weren’t fishing”? Guess they never heard of a Father and Son trip.


Part 6 of 6

On the portage from Eskwagama Lake to Sourth Kawisiwi River I slipped on a rock portaging the canoe and sprained my ankle about ten feet from the put in. John went back and portaged the remaining gear in one carry. On the final portage from the take out to my car he carried everything. I only carried a small day pack. As soon as we were in cell range he was texting my daughter that’s an MD and she advised I ice my foot and elevate. I laughed, little hard to do that and drive all day. We got back to Voyageur North, returned their canoe and took a hot shower. I’m not sure other Outfitters do this, but Voyageur North offers showers if you rent your canoe from them. It’s great to have a hot shower for the drive. That night at the hotel I did my best to follow the Dr orders.

The trip was a good bonding experience for us. I was glad he took time away from his work/studies. It’s 2019 and he is going with me again. This time with a group of first timers I’m leading. 


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