BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
February 24 2021
Number of Permits per Day: 3
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.
1st trip with the boys
July 16, 2020
Number of Days:
Our main purpose of the trip, besides the wilderness camping experience, was fishing. We fished quite a bit around the islands at the western end of Homer. We had a fair amount of action on smallies using top water lures in the morning and evening. We also portaged into East Pipe lake one night and caught a few fish including a 19" walleye. We caught 4-5 northerns but they were all very tiny. The 2 portages to get to East Pipe were short, but rocky and difficult to navigate. We also tried to get into Vern Lake and Vern River but the channel into Vern was so weed choked, shallow, and full of leeches and eventually we couldn't go any further. To get to Vern you'll have to go through Whack lake.
My son and I went into Pipe Lake to check it out on our last full day and spent a couple hours exploring and fishing the eastern end of the lake. It was a very pretty lake with high elevations along the shore. I would definitely like to go back and stay on this lake and explore it more.
Overall it was a good trip, weather was warm, it mainly rained at night, the bugs weren't too terrible, and we caught some fish. We had 20 mph winds at our back on the trip out, which was great as the wind did most of the work for us.