BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

April 25 2019

Entry Point 51 - Missing Link Lake

Missing Link Lake entry point allows overnight paddle only. This entry point is supported by Gunflint Ranger Station near the city of Grand Marais, MN. The distance from ranger station to entry point is 45 miles. Access is a canoe landing at Round Lake with a 142-rod portage to Missing Link Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 5
Elevation: 1498 feet
Latitude: 48.0731
Longitude: -90.8301
Missing Link Lake - 51

Four first timers figuring it out

by QuietTime
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 01, 2011
Entry Point: Missing Link Lake
Number of Days: 3
Group Size: 4

Trip Introduction:
This is a trip that we have been hoping to complete since I joined the Army and realized how hard it is to plan a trip in advance while in the service. We finally got it this year and decided on a base camp off the Gunflint trail would be great for first-timers. I read great things about Snipe Lake, so we made the plans. My Dad, Sister, Best Friend and I all loved our first experience and we will be back with new ideas and expectations. My Dad had actually been to Quetico back in high school, and it was always hid dream to go back. It was great to make it happen. Our goal was to start Friday morning at 9 am and get picked up Monday morning, July 4th at 8am. We were going to head through Missing Link, base camp on Snipe lake, and finish the loop through the Cross River and Ham Lake.

Day 1 of 3

Friday, July 01, 2011 We headed out of Chicago on Thursday at around 3pm. The Holiday weekend traffic slowed us down the first few hours, but we hit our stride and made it through Duluth before sunset. The hard driving came after dark on the 107 winding miles into Grand Marais and the 55 miles North on the Gunflint trail. We were dodging deer and wildlife and pretty much crawled in through the fog at 2am on Friday morning. We found our names on the Seagull Outfitters white board and headed up to the bunkhouse for the night.

We got up Friday morning at 6:30am to breakfast in our bunk room. We headed down to the car to pick up the gear and then met the folks at Seagull in the Planning Bay. Nick answered all of our questions and gave us a personalized map of the area we were visiting. We chose the complete outfitting package, and we couldn’t be more impressed with Debbie and her staff. I can’t imagine how you could do it better.

We got a ride over to Round Lake and dumped in at 10am. I have been planning and trying to schedule this trip for years, and it was such a great feeling seeing my Dad, Sister, and best friend all finally out paddling the boundary waters. However, the unexpected sunny 87 degree weather and high humidity would take its toll soon enough. We landed at a nice portage into Missing Link and quickly unloaded. First off, I should say that I made two great mistakes on this trip.

Mistake #1 - I suggested that everyone wear water shoes for the paddling and portaging. I didn’t think it was worth the time to change into boots for our two 140 & 180 rod portages. I am an idiot. #2 – We over packed. Even after reading the forums and other reports, I still couldn’t help myself. We had 3 full Duluth packs, a bear barrel, a small cooler bag, and a backpack for a 3 day trip! Craziness. Next time I will have 3 packs total.

We realized and paid for my mistake that first day. We single portaged the round-missing link portage. I carried a Duluth pack on my back, cooler across my front, and a canoe while wearing cheap water shoes. Never again. I have an Army background and I missed my boots the whole time. The portage wasn’t difficult, but it was rocky, and it got us off on a bad note. We double portaged the 180 rods from Missing-Link to Snipe Lake and it worked much better.

By 1pm we were cruising in to the Northwest Campsite on Snipe Lake. We divvied up the duties of setting up camp, pumping water, and making lunch, and we we’re there! It felt great. Our campsite was great, out on a point with a great view on all sides and constant breeze. However all 3 days we had relentless sun (I know it could be worse, believe me) and that site has little in the form of shade. Later we explored all of Snipe Lake and in hindsight I would select the far East Campsite. It was forested but still had a beautiful fire grate out on a rock peninsula.

We spent our first day fishing and swimming. The water felt great as long as you floated in the top two feet heated by the sun. We caught two small Northern, and they would be the only ones we caught the whole trip. That night we cooked fresh potatoes, onions, and Steaks over the fire. It was amazing. We chopped and boiled the potatoes and then fried them with butter and onions. Eating that meal on a point on Snipe Lake was the highlight of the trip. The bugs forced us to bed before the sun went down and we all slept like champs.


Day 2 of 3

Saturday, July 02, 2011 Saturday was a wonderful lazy day in the heat with a slight breeze. We explored the lake and fished everywhere without success. We aren’t the best fisherman, but I don’t think the hot weather was helping. Snipe is beautiful. It has a couple of small passageways with high granite on each side, and several little coves worth exploring. We saw several beavers and heard the loons all evening. I tried my hand at blueberry pancakes for breakfast and chicken teriyaki at dinner. Both were decent, but not worth the time they took in my opinion. The apple cobbler was delicious for dessert.

In my opinion, we could have simplified our menu and cooking utensils and made for a lot less supplies and much more time. When I go again, I will bring only one boiling pot, one fry pan, and dried dinner meals made with boiling water only. I’ll do protein bars, fresh fish, and salami for breakfast and lunch with marshmallows for dessert. Forget the percolator, drink mixes, small pans and all of the other filler stuff that you think you need. It made it heavy and unorganized. Simple and light is the way to go. It seemed like we spent the best fishing / relaxing times preparing food and cleaning up.

On Saturday we also saw the only other folks of the whole trip – a day tripping family that paddled by the site and a group of young guys passing through fishing. Its amazing how secluded it can get just a few lakes into the Boundary Waters. What an amazing place.

We decided over lunch that we did not want to wake up at 5am on Monday morning to make the 8am pickup on Ham Lake. Then we would be tired and fight the July 4th traffic all the way home. We instead planned to wake up late on Sunday, eat breakfast, and head back to round lake. We would call Seagull from Tuscarora Lodge and get out around 3pm. We had a great night talking and eating. We stayed around the fire for perfect marshmallows, watched the loons dive, and played cards till we called it quits after dark.


Day 3 of 3

Sunday, July 03, 2011 We woke up to a beautiful Sunday and fished around camp. Peasant omelet’s for breakfast were good, but not even close to the pancakes. We took our time cleaning up and packing and headed out around 11:30am. We all wore boots this time and boy was the portaging more fun. We made it out onto Round Lake by 1 and we cruised into Tuscarora Lodge shortly after. They said the phones were down and couldn’t call Seagull. I got nervous, but then one of the guys said he’d give us a ride back to our lodge no problem. Boy, MN people sure are nice. In Chicago we would have been out of luck.

The Seagull staff welcomed us back with smiles and cold water bottles. They sent us up for fresh showers in their beautiful facility, and we were on the road by 3:30. We got back to Chicago a little after 2am, and now we are planning trip 2! Any ideas on our next location? Better fishing?


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