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April 18 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

How many portages? Cherokee Lake 2023

by Speckled
Trip Report

Entry Date: September 28, 2023
Entry Point: Sawbill Lake
Number of Days: 4
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
This trip contained a number of firsts. Pretzels first overnight BW trip. Pretzel is our 1 year old Bernedoodle. He's been in the canoe a number of times, but never on an overnight first time sleeping in a tent as well. Ella's first BW trip. Ella is the girlfriend to my son Travis. They've been together for over a year at this point and were just starting thier senior year in HS. We adore Ella and she was an absolute trooper on this trip. Total participants on the trip myself, my wife (Jo Lynn), Travis, Ella and Pretzel. Jo Lynn, Pretzel and I were in a Bell Northwoods and Travis and Ella in a Bell Northstar. Both boats - very stable and very efficient. The trip is a long weekend from Sawbill to Cherokee at the end of September.

Day 1 of 4

Thursday, September 28, 2023 Day 0 We drove from Duluth to our cabin, which is located south of Ely the night prior. Our bunkhouse served as headquarters for gear sorting, final packing, and map gazing discussing such things as portages, how long a rod many rods per mile. There were a few wide eyes looking at the route. Our planned route took us up from Sawbill, a few puddle jumps and into Cherokee Creek and then to Cherokee Lake. Target was one of the island sites! Assurances were made that ths was totally doable and not nearly as hard as it sounds.

Day 1

Ok - Canoes were loaded the night prior and the drive to Sawbill was uneventful. Once at the outfitters, videos were watched, permits were picked up and we shoved off. Everyone, including Pretzel (our 1 yr old Bernedoodle) settled into the canoes nicely and quickly got comfortable paddling. The kids (Travis and Ella) glided effortlessly across Sawbill lake in the Bell Northstar and not only kept up, but could easily paddle away from us. I remember being 17 and strong...not the same at nearly 50. My only solace was knowing the Northstar is a pretty quick boat and is a touch faster than the Northwoods Jo Lynn and I were in.

Yes Ella - there are more portages. All kidding aside, Ella was an absolute trooper, powering across the portages with pack and paddles in hand. A little trail lunch helped. The rest of the portages clicked off and soon we found our island home on Cherokee Lake and settled in nicely. Tents were up and there was enough firewood laying around to cook and have an evening fire. We turned in early as everyone was bit exhausted from the days travels.


Day 2 of 4

Friday, September 29, 2023

Day 2 was pretty chill. We tidied up around camp and after some chores were complete, we explored the island. It kind of rained on and off all day, so we pretty much just hung around camp today.


Day 3 of 4

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Today was a little nicer than the day prior, still overcast, but at least it wasn't misting. We headed out to do some fishing and lake exploration. The lake itself is gorgeous with all the various islands and varying terrain and elevation. Leaves were varying degrees of gold, green and crimson. We paddled nearly the entire lake and stopped at a few different campsites that i'd found my way to in past travels. Not sure if my stories wore thin, regaling of all the adventures i'd had through this lake over the last 25+ years...even if they did, the kids were going to have to just bear with me as i'm not stopping. You're going to hear about the ant invasion, the bending branches hammock setup, night hike, the wet from the waist up fall into the lake. It was fun day for sure.


Day 4 of 4

Sunday, October 01, 2023 Last day was fairly uneventful. A quick breakfast, packed up, paddle and portaged home. The consensus was - fantastic trip, lets do it again, but do we need to do quite so many portages.


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