BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

December 03 2020

Entry Point 39 - Baker Lake

Baker 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 26 miles. Access is a boat landing at Baker Lake with a 10-rod portage into Peterson Lake to reach first campsite. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 3
Elevation: 1497 feet
Latitude: 47.8452
Longitude: -90.8169
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 to Temperance

by naturboy12
Trip Report

Entry Date: August 10, 2014
Entry Point: Baker Lake
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 5

Trip Introduction:
Its August and once again time for the B.I.G. L.I.A.R.S annual trip to the Boundary Waters. This year's cast brings 2nd timers Tyler and Pete along with Ben, Curt, and Shane (me!).

Day 1 of 7

Sunday, August 10, 2014 After staying the night at nearby Crescent Lake, we made the short drive to the Baker Lake EP and were on the water paddling by 6:45 AM. With rain in the forecast for later in the day, we hoped to make it to South Temperance before it arrived. Peaceful and quick paddles through Baker and Peterson had us to the south end of Kelly Lake rather quickly. All sites on the lake appeared full as we passed, an ominous sight given we hoped to return to one of these very sites by the end of the week. We pushed on, noting fishing holes and points of interest to hit later in the week. Jack Lake was much in the same with both sites occupied. The portage from Jack to Weird was the first time we ran into any issues. A few large trees were still blocking the portage from a recent storm, which added some time and interesting body contortions as we passed through. Each of the next portages would be the same, including the 240 rod portage into South Temperance that still loomed in our near future. Somewhere along one of these portages Curt managed to kick a rock and break his toe, although he carried on throughout the week with only minor issues flaring up from time to time. He's such a trooper! The 240 rod portage was a good test for us double portagers, but we passed it with flying colors. It was long, but not hard, and we were rewarded with the beautiful sight of South Temperance Lake when we arrived on the other side. We were expecting the lake to be very full, but luck was on our side and when we arrived, every site was wide open. We took what we considered our top choice- the south site on the lake with the beautiful lake overlook. It turned out to be a great site in all aspects, fitting our 3 small tents and gear very nicely. Its only drawback was a fairly small and rocky canoe landing, but we worked around that with ease. The lakes "emptiness" changed quickly throughout the afternoon, as 2 others groups arrived within a few hours of us and took the remaining sites on the main portion of the lake. Throughout the week people were coming and going quite often, and several groups looking for a site on that lake ended up pushing on to other nearby lakes. After camp was set up, we got in some initial fishing. Pete managed to haul in a couple nice walleye including a fat 24" fish, and along with a couple smallmouth bass caught by others, we had an ideal first night's fish dinner. Unfortunately this would be the last time we caught enough fish on South Temperance or the nearby lakes to do so... Later that evening and into the night, the rains came. All I remember is there was a lot of it, but no high winds or lightning/thunder. All in all it was a great first day!


Day 2 of 7

Monday, August 11, 2014 Monday was reserved for fishing South Temperance Lake and exploring all it had to offer. We fished bays, islands, drop-offs, shoreline structure, mid-lake reefs and anything else that looked like it should hold fish. Most didn't. A few small bass, one undersized pike and a couple eater sized walleye were all we could muster despite a full day of effort. We did see multiple bald eagles, a huge family of mergansers, as well as a beaver whose lodge was just around the point from our campsite. We even made friends that day with 2 curious chipmunks who didn't mind scurrying between us should any tasty looking crumb fall to the ground. In the mid-afternoon, our rain gear was really put to the test. Heavy rains fell numerous times throughout the remainder of the day, and while each of our raingear held up nicely, the puddles forming around the tents proved to be too much for one tent floor. Nothing inside was soaked, but some general dampness had us hoping for sunny weather the next day to dry out. Luckily, the weather cooperated for the most part after that night, with only some light sprinkles here and there afterwards.


Day 3 of 7

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 Tuesday- day trip day! We packed up our fishing gear early that morning and headed up to North Temperance Lake for a short fishing excursion. The winds picked up pretty high, and when we arrived on North Temperance, the 10+mph sustained winds out of the north were threatening to make our day miserable. We each went our separate ways to check out bays and areas sheltered from the winds. Despite the winds, it was a beautiful sunny day and the fish were much more cooperative on North Temperance- well, the little ones anyway. We caught a couple dozen bass, but only one larger than 14" and a couple larger fish lost on the way to the boat. It was however a nice change from the very slow day of fishing the day before on South Temperance. Tyler and I took some time to hike the portage to Sitka Lake, and although it wasn't as tough as some other portages I had done on other trips, I was glad to not be carrying a canoe when we did so. We also took a trip against the wind to the north side of the lake, and although we didn't have a lot of time to explore, it was a very pretty area, and I'm glad we fought the wind to see it. After riding the wind and waves south (they had by this time reached small whitecap levels), we eventually met back up with the others at the south end of the lake and headed back to South Temperance for lunch. We fished South Temperance for several more hours and the 5 of us only came up with 1 more smallmouth bass for dinner. Two smallmouth bass have a hard time stretching to feed 5 hungry guys, which led to our first much smaller dinner than we had planned. After a spectacular view both from the water and from our site of an amazing sunset, we did a fair amount of sky watching, with many stars, meteors, satellites, and even the international space station being spotted. Some beverages of choice also added to the enjoyment after a long but fun-filled day.


Day 4 of 7

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Wednesday was the longer of our 2 planned day trips. We again packed fishing gear and a light lunch and headed east over to Brule Lake. Tyler, Curt and I had our sights set on Wench Lake and parted ways with Ben and Pete near the portage. It was again windy, almost too much so, but by ducking in and behind the many islands on west Brule and hugging shores through the narrows up to the Wench Lake portage, we made it without problems. It was there that our true adventure began. We like to test ourselves now and then, and we decided that no matter what, we were getting our canoes up to Wench Lake. Simply put, despite it relative short length (55 rods), it was the hardest portage I had ever done. Vertical the whole way, branches at canoe level the entire length, a very rocky and slippery path, and several large blowdowns completely blocked our path on more than one occasion. We knew when we made it to the top that we had tackled something not many people would choose to do, and the sweet smell of victory trumped all tiredness. Wench Lake is a beautiful higher elevation lake with some great cliffs and bluffs overlooking it. While it didn't give up any of its treasures to our rods and reels that day, it was still well worth the trip in and out to reach it. The rock slide on the Brule side of the portage was also spectacular, and was a great resting and picture location. We continued fishing Brule's western bays until early afternoon, but the fish were not cooperative. A single decent sized smallmouths and several smaller ones were all we could muster. Once again defeated by the fishing gods, we went back to South Temperance. Throughout the afternoon and evening we fished hard, hoping not to repeat the previous day's meager dinner. We did not succeed. A second smallmouth was once again added to the take, but that was all. A very strange phenomenon occurred on this evening as well. It was Curt's birthday, and Ben (with inspiration from our resident rapper Pete) came up with a rhyme and beat that only a 39 year old heavy metal loving, never listened to rap music white-collar working male could possibly muster. Needless to say, it was video recorded, and I'm waiting for it to show up on Youtube. However crazy it was, it was well enjoyed by all for both its creativity and uniqueness, and worked to lift our spirits after yet another day of slow fishing. Baffled by three days of unproductive fishing, we could not wait for the weather change coming the next day- when pressure was expected to drop and the winds were expected to change to light and out of the south. After once again ending our night with sky watching, we hit our sleeping bags with renewed optimism.   


Day 5 of 7

Thursday, August 14, 2014 Thursday morning greeted us with the coldest temperatures of the trip- a low in the upper 30's, but that was quickly warmed by the sun and light southerly breeze. It was our day to rest and take it easy around camp. We picked many blueberries, fished some (I caught my first and only South Temperance fish on this day...finally), took naps, and cleaned up some gear to get ready for the move day the following morning. The change in the weather happened just as it was forecasted, but the fish didn't really care and we once again had only 2 fish to split for dinner. While fishing the northeast parts of the lake, Tyler and I were informed by a passing canoe that a cow and calf moose were in the bay just up past where we were fishing. We paddled on over hoping to see them, but I was only able to catch a glimpse of the cow as she exited the water while we were still almost 200 yards away. Tyler of course was looking the wrong direction and will have to wait another year to see his first BW moose, but I was glad for having gotten the chance to see her, however short and fleeting the moment was. Tyler and I also ran into a FS ranger duo in the afternoon, who after checking our permits informed us that they had cleared all the blowdowns on the portages to the south. That was some great news indeed, and we were very thankful for their efforts! Most of the rest of the day was uneventful, and we turned in quite early to prepare for the next morning.  


Day 6 of 7

Friday, August 15, 2014 A 5:30 wake-up call had us on the water around 7 AM, and we began the trek back south with hopes of securing a site on the south end of Kelly Lake. The 240 rod portage, Weird Lake and Jack Lake passed by quickly. We did take some time to go find the mine entrance near the portage from Jack into Kelly Lake. It was much larger than I expected and proved to be just the diversion we needed before finishing up the last bit of paddling. When we arrived in Kelly Lake, we ran into 2 families fishing below the stream where it entered the lake. They informed us that all the sites in the lower part of the lake were already full, so we unhappily took the site on the north end of the lake. Despite its sloping and/or rocky tent pads and the 30 minute paddle against the wind through a seemingly unending (but beautiful) lily pad field to get to the rest of the lake to fish, we made due as our only other alternative was to push onto Peterson Lake or head out of the BW one day earlier than expected. We had camp set up for an early lunch and then headed out to fish. Curt stayed behind to fish close to camp and to rest a little, and this turned out to be the best choice of the trip. He got into the walleye, and surprised us with a stringer of 5 nice fish when we returned from fishing other areas of the lake. We added 2 smallmouth to his take and finally had our first "large" dinner of the trip on our last night. It was a well deserved ending to an otherwise frustrating week of fishing. Curt finally gave out his newfound fishing secrets after dinner and both Tyler and I were able to catch a walleye and miss several others (Tyler's first BW walleye!). Tyler also hooked into what was likely a very large northern pike, that literally tore his reel in half when it went on an unexpected run. With his reel completely broken, Tyler tried to haul in the fish by hand, but he lost tension on the line and it got away. He was pretty upset about the broken reel, but it was definitely the highlight of his trip in terms of fishing and imagining what must have been down there to do that to his reel. With our trip home looming the next morning, we went to bed well before dark to get some rest. Our time in the wilderness was coming to a close.   


Day 7 of 7

Saturday, August 16, 2014 The last day of our trip always seems to come too soon. It took only slightly more than an hour from our camp on the north side of Kelly Lake to get to the parking lot on Baker Lake, thanks in part to our large amount of rest as well as a light but steady breeze out of the north. With the rains earlier in the week the water levels were slightly higher than when we had entered, so we threw caution to the wind and skipped both portages to run the "rapids". If you've been here before you know that's a bit tongue in cheek, as there was nothing technical or dangerous about doing so, but it provided some much needed excitement on what was otherwise a generally uneventful day. We said our goodbyes to the Boundary Waters for another year and were on our way by 8:00 AM. The 8 hour drive home passed fairly quickly, with plans already being made for next year's trip. All in all it was another wonderful trip with good friends full of memories and experiences that we will never forget. I can't wait to see what next year has in store!  


Lakes Traveled:   Kelly Lake, Peterson Lake, Baker Lake, Jack Lake, Weird Lake, South Temperance Lake, North Temperance Lake, Brule Lake, Wench Lake,

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