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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

April 19 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

Alton with the kids

by stok0099
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 11, 2023
Entry Point: Sawbill Lake
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
My wife and I wanted to introduce the kids to the BWCA with an easier portage and paddle. I had been to Alton lake as a kid, and I thought it was perfect for this trip.

Day 1 of 3


Tuesday, July 11, 2023 We left Duluth around 8 am all packed and ready. The kids were excited as they just finished another camping trip on Rainy Lake. The boys, MJ (5) and JJ (3) had experienced camping, but not paddle/portage/paddle with the minimal gear that we bring to the BWCA. We stopped at the ranger station and the kids learned all of the "rules" and were very intrigued and were strict on them the rest of the trip. We arrived at the landing only to find 20ish MPH winds directly from the direction we needed to paddle. White caps and all, we decided to go for it. The kids sat in the middle paddling with their hands, as my wife and I worked hard to get us to the portage. I recalled previous trips when the wind was the strong, and remembered a straight head-on wind is better than one from the side. The portage was quite easy as we met a group of wonderful ladies that lugged some of our stuff on the way back to get their own gear. We paddled with the wind on Alton, and moved south along the east side until we found an open site. We stayed at the further southeast site before the portage to Wonder. It was a pretty sweet site for the kids as there was a huge rock they could climb over and over and over and over again. We set up camp, and let the kids explore the site. We went out fishing for just a bit after dinner and caught a couple smallmouth bass. We were visited by a loon that came fairly close to us which was great to see. The flies attacked our ankles in the canoe and limited the time we fished. We had a small campfire at the site before turning in. In the middle of the night, the loons were extremely active. They made all kinds of different calls (yodels, grunts, hoots, ect.)

 



Day 2 of 3


Wednesday, July 12, 2023 We woke up fairly early (before 7), and made some breakfast (oatmeal). I had some coffee while we slowly made our way out on the lake. We tried fishing by the rock piles on the south side of the lake in an effort to find a walleye or two. We were only able to find smallmouth, but a fair amount of them. The kids enjoyed playing in the water with their hands as we moved around (they can't do that in a fishing boat!). The youngest needed a late morning/early afternoon nap, so the oldest and mom went for a paddle. When they got back and the younger one woke up, we decided to go for another journey and check out the campsite nearby. The kids relayed all the similarities and differences between the two sites. When we came back, we spent some time at the site just relaxing (see picture), cutting wood, and eating dinner. We had a fire again, hung out for a bit until the kids were ready for bed. Mom and Dad also went to bed, as we all were tired by that point. We heard the loons overnight again, they were more active than I had ever heard. MJ (5), woke up in the middle of the night to pee, so he got to see the absolutely stunning BWCA sky. More stars than the planetarium!

 



Day 3 of 3


Thursday, July 13, 2023

We woke and had our standard oatmeal breakfast and starting the packing. It was a short trip, but we were all ready to get back. We were glad we came, but having a 3 year old in the mix was a bit more work than we anticipated (and we expected extra work). The paddle and portage out was uneventful except for some complaining about it taking too long. We stopped on the drive home in Two Harbors for some lunch, and then made our way back home. When asked what their favorite part was, MJ (5) said "fishing, the fire, and the stars". JJ (3) said "pooping on a toilet in the woods". A successful short trip to introduce the kids to the BWCA. We have a third child, but she is only one, so I think we will wait until she is at least 4 before we handle all three up there.

 


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