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June 21 2024

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: 11
Elevation: 1802 feet
Latitude: 47.8699
Longitude: -90.8858
Sawbill Lake - 38

Late September Sawbill loop

by Ajoutdoors
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 22, 2019
Entry Point: Sawbill Lake
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
I brought 3 friends that have never experienced the Boundary Waters. We put in at Sawbill Lake and camped on Burnt, North Temperance, Cherokee, and Sawbill Lakes. After several solos, this was my first group trip in quite some time.

Day 1 of 6

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sawbill-Smoke-Burnt-Flame-Burnt 5 miles, 4 hours of travel

We put in at Sawbill around 10 am. The temps were mid 60s with light winds. We traveled through Smoke and Burnt and went to scout the lone campsite on Flame. It was occupied. On one of the portages we saw around 12? people but they were all heading out. We ended up staying on Burnt. The afternoon brought rain showers off and on but in the evening the wind died down, the rain stopped, and we had a nice fire. We all brought steaks to cook on the grate and enjoyed and nice night. An interesting note: All of the permits (14) were booked for Sawbill today. This was surprising but we neither passed nor were overtaken by anybody. The crowds at Sawbill were minimal. Maybe they arrived later.


Day 2 of 6

Monday, September 23, 2019

Burnt-Kelly-Jack-Weird-South Temperance-North Temperance 12 miles, 7 hours, 682 rods.

We woke up to clear skies and calm winds. Our plan was to head north and see what happens. The paddle through Kelly was very scenic with the clouds reflecting off of the lily pad water. We were passed up by a solo paddler, landoftheskytintedwater. He was the only person we would see on our paddle today, besides occupied campsites. We debating stopping on the Weird Lake campsite around 2 pm but decided to press on and take the southern site on S. Temp. It ended up being occupied so were pressed on to N. Temp. and took the southern site for the next two nights.


Day 3 of 6

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

We took a layover day. I am fairly confident we heard moose in the morning. It sounded like a weird cow? Around 9 am when I was on the pooper, I swear I heard a bull moose fight. Grunting and the clacking of antlers? I really wish we would of investigated this further but it ended after about 10 minutes. Winds kicked up the afternoon with thunder to the south. The storms stayed away and by sunset the winds had died down and we ended the night with a nice fire.


Day 4 of 6

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

North Temperance-Sitka-Cherokee 5 miles, 3.5 hours, 245 rods

Around 3 am, the winds became intense. My tarp was pushing against my hammock and I didn't sleep much. At 1030 we packed up camp. It began to rain to immediately. We threw on our rain gear off we went. I had read about the Sitka portage and it lived up to its reputation. Its 140 rods and 30 rods or so of it is flat. Very hilly. That being said, the footing is good and there are only 1 or 2 tricky spots. It gets the heart rate up but its not too difficult. The winds were still whipping out of the west when we reached Cherokee and we were heading right into it. It wasn't the easiest paddle but we ended up on a peninsula site on the west shoreline which was suprisingly protected from the wind. It rained steadily throughout the afternoon so we spent some time in our tents/hammocks. It got nice at night and we had a nice fire. 


Day 5 of 6

Thursday, September 26, 2019


We left Cherokee Lake around 10 am to head to Sawbill for the last night. The wind picked up once again. Our plan was to stay on the north side of Sawbill lake. The paddle down Cherokee creek is always one of my favorite paddles. We went in stealth mode hoping for one more chance to see a moose. No moose spotted this trip. We met 3 groups today heading north coming up for a long weekend. We scouted a couple sites on Sawbill and took a site on the east side protected by an island from a west wind. We went out fishing for a while and caught some small pike. We ended the night by solving all the worlds problems around a campfire. 


Day 6 of 6

Friday, September 27, 2019

A steady rain arrived again during the evening and we ended up packing up wet. Thankfully, the rain held off for our paddle and we made it back to Sawbill in about an hour. Overall, it was great trip. My only complaints were too much rain and too little fish. Can't wait to come back.


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