BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

May 20 2019

Entry Point 38 - Sawbill Lake

Sawbill Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Tofte Ranger Station near the city of Tofte, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 25 miles. Access is a boat landing at Sawbill Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 14
Elevation: 1802 feet
Latitude: 47.8699
Longitude: -90.8858
Sawbill Lake - 38

sawbill solo

by bwcasolo
Trip Report

Entry Date: May 18, 2012
Entry Point: Sawbill Lake
Number of Days: 8
Group Size: 1

Trip Introduction:
this year i planned on doing a loop thru cherokee, east to brule and north and back around thru long island. the high winds the first two days kept me grounded and changed my plans. all in all, every day there is a day to enjoy no matter where you paddle.

Day 1 of 8

Friday, May 18, 2012 after picking up my 2008 prism i bought from bill this winter the day before, i awoke in the back of the outback and headed to the dock to unload my gear and re-park the car and head out. it was a clear morning. all quiet, except for the nuthatches telling me hello, i love those birds! with two packs, in front of me, the prism trimmed out perfectly, and i was gliding along on sawbill lake. i had the canoe out the day before to see how it trimmed out, with the modifications that sawbill has done to them, and i really like it. i noticed the new prism's that came from wenonah in the yard, and they are factory set up that way for sawbill. soon thru a series of portages i was on cherokee, looking for a site.   


Day 2 of 8

Saturday, May 19, 2012 the first two days were very warm, almost hot. the lake trout were hitting shallow running rapala's with ease. during high sun times, i ducked out and read my book and stayed cool under the shade of the island site i was on 2/3 up the lake in the center island. i knew the weather was going to change, and big time it did saturday evening, with a thunder and lightning show that only the bwca can produce. it was a great 2 days spending time exploring every bay on the lake and surrounding area. i was ready to move.


Day 3 of 8

Sunday, May 20, 2012 i decided to head back down to sawbill lake and duck into kelso river area and head to alton lake for a couple of days. i love rivers and have wanted to see the gin clear waters of alton. it did not disappoint. it rained most of the way there , but i stayed nice and dry. the slip on neo overshoes are just the ticket for keeping your boots dry on those type of days. nothing like warm feet on camp with dry boots. after finding my way up and around the keslo river i was on alton, picking the northern site, and what a site it is. one of the nicest i have stayed on.  


Day 4 of 8

Monday, May 21, 2012 woke up to clear sky and the plan was a day trip to the upper end of kelso lake. after my morning coffee and oatmeal, i was on the way. it was a picture perfect morning for an outing. the upper end of kelso was beautiful. i meandered about, taking my time and making a day out of it. there was no one in site, and would remain the theme for most of the week. back to alton i went for a book break and supper.  


Day 5 of 8

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 as the rain began, i have decided at this point to stay put and see what the weather god's would dish out. it was such a great site, and i was very content. with the hammock along this year i was sleeping so well. i believe my tent will be staying in the closet for solo trips in the future. only once did i not find a suitable hand area at a site, but the site was not decent anyway so i moved on.


Day 6 of 8

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 as more rain showers persisted, i decided to move on to sawbill, and paddle the lake and see if i could find a nice site for the last two evenings. i have been having a great time being leisure this year and just going with the flow, weather and my moods. i found a moose trail from the back of my alton site, and it was a short cut to the kelso river. it was about a 20 rod trail that was well used. i had found it the day before and knew if the south winds were blowing, which they were i would duck out the back door which i did. a perfect plan. 


Day 7 of 8

Thursday, May 24, 2012 i spent my time checking out the 2 sites in the back that leads to the kelso river. i could have stayed in the far north site, but with the swamp and no wind, the sketters were thick. the next site was the site that did not have a suitable hang area for the hh. besides, it was not a very nice tent site either. so i moved on the sawbill to explore and find a site. most were taken at this point, and the decision to sleep in the outback was rolling around in my head. i paddled to the south end of sawbill and checked out the site on the point east of the alton portage. wow, what a grand site, with two giant pines at the entrance. it was perfect, better than the car, and the campground. there was no one around.


Day 8 of 8

Friday, May 25, 2012 it rained all evening. up to 3 inches i heard. the hammock kept me high and dry all week. prior to the trip i purchased the larger hennessy rain fly which is a must imho. i paddled out to the car, loaded up and on my way i went. as i drove the sawbill road south it started to rain again. the prism i brought home i really like. the year before i had rented a prism from the ely side, and i found no problem trimming or paddling this modified set up i bought from sawbill. i really like the flat seat as well. no more bucket butt for me. it was a week where i changed my plans, stayed open with the weather and just did as i pleased. my granite gear rain suit is the best, breathable, and great coverage. thanks for coming along. 


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