BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
September 23 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1497 feet
Summary: A 5-day loop from Baker up the Temperance lakes to Cherokee, and back through Sawbill and Smoke lakes back to Baker. A fairly difficult trip.
Day 0: We drove up from Stillwater in the morning and camped at one of the 5 walk-in campsites at Baker Lake, and it was nice.
Day 1 (Baker to S. Temperance) - A beautiful day, we decided to paddle all the way to South Temperance the first day which was a great paddle with easy portages except for the last one. We picked the campsite on top of a huge rock that was close to the middle of the lake. Tried fishing some but no luck
Day 2 (Rest) - In the night, we encountered the worst storm of the entire season. While we were there 19 people had to be rescued from the BWCA. We had about 50mph straightline winds, and I'm still surprised that the huge tent we had stood up to it. We slept in and took a rest day because of the intense winds. Amazingly beautiful sunset.
Day 3 (S. Temperance to Cherokee) - We left as early as we could to beat the heat, but it was no good. The lengthy, hilly portages were challenging and by the last portage we were pretty beat. We overpacked and single portaged which led us to speedier exhaustion. Still amazing weather. North Temperance was a beaut- I wish we had stayed there instead of South. We took the southeasterly facing campsite on Cherokee on the southeastern skinny island. Neat little site.
Day 4 (Cherokee to Sawbill) - Left a little later in the day but it was ok. We took our time going down the river letting out of the southwest part of Cherokee and it was a great area. BEWARE: The area between Ada and Skoop Lakes appears to be floatable, but a dam built recently has made the portion impossible to float. Be prepared for a long portage through muck and water. A guy that we saw there said he had been going to the BWCA for 40 years at least once per year and it was the worst portage he had ever seen. By the time we got to Sawbill it was pretty hot. We paddled all the way down to the site next to the portage onto Smoke.
Day 5 (Sawbill to Baker) - Cooler, cloudier weather for the first time on the trip. We were pretty hungry (I underpacked food a little and I felt really bad) and we were taunting each other with vivid descriptions of the burgers we were going to eat ASAP after getting out. We paddled back to Baker and returned our gear to Sawtooth outfitters.
Overall great route.
Baker Lake 6.12.04 - 6.14.04
June 12, 2004
Number of Days:
Baker Lake, Peterson Lake, Kelly Lake, Burnt Lake, Smoke Lake, Sawbill Lake, Ada Lake, Skoop Lake, Cherokee Lake
We left home at 2:00am with our two alumacraft canoes. Stopped in Luck, Wi to pick up a couple friends and drove the 4 hours to Tofte. Picked up Permits and stopped by Sawtooth Outfitters where I had rented a Solo Prism Canoe. Drove the last 45 min to Baker Lake and we were in the water by 8:30 am. It was misting lightly but not enough to get us very wet. We made our way through the first couple portages to the first tough one, 240 rods from Kelly Lake to Burnt Lake. The portage itself was not too bad other than the length but we were ready to be done by the time we got to the end. We decided to attempt the stream shown in the map going north from Smoke Lake to Sawbill. It got pretty narrow at several points and we had to lift the canoes over a couple beaver dams but we made it. It added a little variety to our route. We covered a couple more lakes and finally made it to Cherokee Creek. We paddled down the creek to Cherokee Lake. We looked at a couple camp-sites and decided on the site on the north west end of the bay on the south of the lake. The site was up above the water on a rocky area. We had a great view of the lake from there. We were all pretty tired after our days work so we just relaxed for a little while. Finally got around to setting up camp. My brother caught a couple of Northerns so we were able to add fish to our menu. We had a great evening sitting around the fire and finally went to bed at bout 10:00.
Cherokee Lake, Sitka Lake, North Temperance Lake, South Temperance Lake, Weird Lake, Jack Lake
We got up and enjoyed Breakfast Burritos, made with tortillas, bacon, and scrambled eggs, with some coffee or hot chocolate. We packed up all of our gear and got back on the water by about 10:00. We paddled at an easy pace most of the morning. We worked our way through, Sitka, North Temperance, and South Temperance. When we reached the 230 rod portage headed into Weird Lake the other guys decided that they wanted to try the rapids instead of the portage. I had the rented Kevlar Canoe and did not think that I should risk it in the rapids. They ended up having to walk the canoes most of the way down. They made it about half way and decided to bushwhack their way back to the trail. They finally caught up to me, very wet and glad that they had attempted the rapids. We finally reached our site on Jack Lake, set up camp and had a dinner of Mac and Cheese, beans, and brats. It rained for about 15 minutes as we were preparing dinner, which ended up being a good thing because the bugs disappeared for the next couple hours. When the bugs finally showed back up again they were bad enough that we went to bed to get away from them.
We started the day off with some oatmeal and burritos. After we finished breakfast we packed up our gear, cleaned up our camp, and hit the water. We needed to get home at a reasonable hour. We had a couple easy portages and enjoyed canoeing down the river. Just before our last portage into Baker Lake there is a small rapids and I flipped the canoe over as I was attempting to navigate around a tree. Thankfully, I had tied my pack into the canoe and it was a waterproof pack. My gear stayed pretty dry. :) I was able to throw my pack into one of the other canoes and I walked the canoe the rest of the way to the portage. After I got out of the water I actually felt a lot better. All of the bug spray had been washed off, my clothes were clean (and wet), and I had energy for the trip home. I had to look for the positive elements in my unexpected bath. We drove back to Tofte and returned the canoe to the outfitter, and then headed home. All in all it was a great trip as always! I can not wait for the next one.