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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

July 13 2024

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: 2
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.

Sawbill to Cherokee 2007

by Mongo65
Trip Report

Entry Date: June 13, 2007
Entry Point: Sawbill Lake
Number of Days: 6
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:

Day 1 of 6

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I have been hearing about the BWCA in bits and piece for a number of years. Last summer, we spent a long weekend at Bear Head State Park. That was enough for me. I wanted to go into the BWCA next summer.

I've been planning, purchasing and packing for this trip since April. My former co-worker, Steve Gendron has been a great help and has provided me with invaluable tips and information.

"Forecasted" weather conditions show for a cooler and drier weekend. They wound up being a little off. I tried to get through work today but it just wasn't happening. Left early, made some last min. purchases and finished packing for a quick start the next morning.

Steve and his son Charlie have headed up to Sawbill Outfitters today. We will meet up with them tomorrow.


Day 2 of 6

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rolled out of bed at 3:15 AM. Woke up my son (Aaron), steered him towards the truck and we were on the road in less than one hour. A couple of quick stops along the way (dry goods, b-fast and crawlers) and we were at Sawbill by 10:15. Picked up the permit, watched the video, loaded up and we were on Sawbill Lake by 11:30 AM

Due to our start time, we were not going to make it to Cherokee today. We paddled the 3 miles to the Northwest end of the lake and set up camp. It was a nice open site but the last campers there had left a smoldering fire. Not to smart considering the forest fire earlier in the year. The campsite had a nice cross breeze and an excellent view of the lake.

The boys helped us with the initial camp set-up and we then let them go fishing whiles Steve & I took care fo the rest. My son mainly fishes with a Northland Tackle Whistler Jig and attaches a Bass Asassin tail. I kept trying to tell him there are more lures and jig combinations out there. Guess who pulled in a small Northern, a 12" Walleye and a Smallie that afternoon? Not Dad, Steve or Charlie. I managed a 20" Norhtern on a Mepps Syclops.

Steve taught me a lot today about making camp in the BW. Due to use, we could not find much wood near the camp site. Took the canoe across to an island and found all we needed. None of the trees had any good branches for hanging the food bag but we were able to get the bag up in-between two bare trees for our liking.

Dinner was steaks and alfredo noodles w/cookies and Hudson Bay bread for dessert. Made a couple of bourbonades and were in the tent by 10:00 PM.


Day 3 of 6

Friday, June 15, 2007

Woke to a beautiful morning but it warmed up quickly. We had 4 portages to get us to Cherokee Lake. We went through Ada Creek, Ada Lake, Skoop Lake and then the Cherokee Creek before we got to Cherokee Lake. By the time we finished the second portage, temps were in the mid 80's. After the crossing Ada Creek, my son realized that he had left his glasses at the last portage. luckily, we hadn't started the the next portage before realizing his loss. A quick trip back across the creek and we were on our way again.

The last two portages took their toll. The 110 rod portage between Ada & Skoop was a muddy rock field and the 160 rod portage from Skoop to Cherokee had you going uphill twice. We double portaged the whole route. These four portages would not have been to bad if they were sperad out acroos a further distance.

By the time we hit Cherokee, we were hearing thunder and ahd a smattering of rain drops. Part way into the lake a good front was moving in. We pulled up on a point based campsite and waited out a pretty fierce but short t-storm. It was quite the experience to watch it roll in develop, let loose and move on.

Found a nice site just east of the Sitka Lake portage. It had a great western view and some nice pads for setting up tents The boys helped w/set-up and went fishing w/no luck. Had B-Dub pizza for dinner (the kids loved it) and watched the sun set while drinking bourbonade.


Day 4 of 6

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Slept in until 8:30 AM. Got out of the tent and had coffee w/Steve while we watched the day unfold. Nice quiet morning and the boys did not roll out of bed until 10:30. We were staying here for another day, so a wake-up call wasn't warranted.

We decided to spend the afternoon fishing. Not much luck until I anchored the canoe in a small cove. We were pitching grub tails on whistler jigs towards a group of lily pads. I though I have snagged until the line took off in a different direction. Was able to reel in a 30" Northern for that nights dinner.

Good wildlife viewing today. Loons, a bald eagle and some 2 hawks or raptors which I could not identify. Fired Northern and Zatarains for dinner. Passed the evening telling stories around the fire and sipped a couple of drinks. Headed to bed in colder temperatures which allowed for better sleeping.


Day 5 of 6

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back on the 4 portage route to Sawbill Lake. The longer portage were at the start and this made the trip back easier. I found that singing "100 bottles of beer" to myself, kept my focus more on the song than the work I was doing.

Cooler temps made the trip back smoother. Rain into some light but constant rain for the second & thrid portages. By the time we hit Sawbill, the rain had ended. Three sites down from the portage, we found another campsite with a wester facing opening. View was nice but tent sites were smaller that we would have hoped.

Stev & I let the boys head out for fishing in the late afternoon. They didn't have any luck but were probably happy to get away from the adults. Had Bear Creek Tortilla Soup w/added chicken for dinner. Had a nice fire and watched a beautifull foll roll on to the lake.


Day 6 of 6

Monday, June 18, 2007

Woke up to a cool morning with overcast skies. Fished a little from shore. Only manage a 8' Smallmouth. We wanted to be on the road home by noon, so we had to kick the smaller cubs out from their overnight hibernation.

Broke camp and headed back towards Sawbill Outfitters. Ran into a strong head wind the whole way back. Aaron (my son) was pretty tired by the end of the trip. I had to alternate paddling on both sides of the canoe to keep us in a straight line. Ran into showers for the last 1/4 of the trip but they had quit by the time we hit the landing. Packed the vehicles in a semi-dry state.

Showered at Sawbill Outfitters (best $4 I spent the whole trip) and said our good-byes to Charlie & Steve.

Before we left for home, Aaron mad a comment that capped the whole tripp of for me.   "Dad, I'd come back here again!"   It made the whole planning process, time off and work worth it in spades.

We stopped at Grandma's in Duluth for a chesseburger, ruben and ice cold cokes. Like I stated at the begining, this was my first trip to the BWCA but it not be my last.


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