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BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

May 29 2024

Entry Point 52 - Brant Lake

Brant 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 an 85- and a 35-rod portage to Brant Lake. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 4
Elevation: 1500 feet
Latitude: 48.0692
Longitude: -90.8455

Brant to Tuscarora via Little Sag Route:
Bat - Mud
Gillis - burn area is evident:

Peter - first lake trout:

Little Sag - green trees again!
Mora - gorgeous divide of burn and green
Tuscarora - second lake trout!
Missing Link - with lighter food pack, the portage is OK

A paddler's guide to type 2 fun

by dogwoodgirl
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 29, 2023
Entry Point: Brant Lake
Number of Days: 16
Group Size: 2

Trip Introduction:
My son wanted to do another 2 week trip....we settled on a loop through Gillis, Little Sag, Makwa, Adams, Ledge, and back through Little Sag and Gillis.

Day 1 of 16

Saturday, July 29, 2023

After a quick stop at Frost River to Pick up our permit, Jesse and I headed up the Shore. This is my first trip without my dog, Amelia, since I got her 6 years ago....and it feels a little weird. She gave me a disbelieving look when I gave her a little snuggle and hugged my girlfriend goodbye and left them at home without me!

We had a great late lunch at Trail Center and checked into Tuscarora. Found our bunkhouse and chatted with Andy for a bit....he assured me that once we headed west of Little Sag we would see very few other folks. Then we drove up to the Magnetic Rock trailhead and hiked back tot he rock. Jesse had never been there, and the last time I was there was a year after the Ham Lake fire. Now the jack pines are getting tall and it's a very different landscape- cool to see the regrowth. Jesse got all kinds of cool readings off different pieces of the rock- one slab that had fallen off was way more magnetic than the main pillar.

We hit the hay early, and were asleep quickly.


Day 2 of 16

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Up with the birds and waited around until the kitchen opened, then stuffed ourselves with coffee, fruit, sausages, and french toast.

By 715 we were on our way to the Round Lake parking lot and on the water. There was one short detour for Jesse to get out of the car and herd a suicidal grouse off the road. I love the way we've become a smoothly oiled canoe machine! We both know what has to be done and who is gonna do it.

We saw a couple groups headed out, and one camped on Brandt, and we admired the new stars between Gotter and Flying. Found a fishhook on one of the portages, but this would end up being almost the only piece of trash all trip.

Got to Bat early, probably around noon. The first site on Bat was open, lots of cedar trees and a nice flat tent site so we grabbed it. Got pretty windy in the afternoon, lots of thunderheads floating by but no rain. Jesse spent some time frog watching, then went out to gather wood. There's a really nice rock under the trees- like a front porch. Only real downside to the camp is that the latrine is clearly visible from the kitchen.

~Round Lake, West Round Lake, Edith Lake, Brant Lake, Gotter Lake, Flying Lake, Green Lake, Bat Lake


Day 3 of 16

Monday, July 31, 2023 Up early, coffee and oatmeal and on our way. It's smoky today.

Almost as many portages today, but less up and down and more paddling, so it felt better. That strip of portages from Round to Bat is just...annoying. Talked to a couple groups coming out of Little Sag- one recommended 2 campsites in particular for either blueberries or a sandy beach. The first one on our route was gorgeous- elevated kitchen, shady tent pads, private latrine, and a trail up onto a bluff absolutely filled with blueberries. Protected from the wind, and incredible amount of downed wood close to camp, and a beautifully constructed firepit.

We had "iced" coffee to celebrate finding a home base to explore Liitte Sag from. Smoke is getting worse- you can smell that burning plastic smell and my eyes are irritated. Found a quarter on the tent pad and picked blueberries for pancakes in the morning.

~Bat Lake, Gillis Lake, Crooked Lake, Tarry Lake, Mora Lake, Little Saganaga Lake


Day 4 of 16

Tuesday, August 01, 2023 Slept in, then had coffee and blueberry pancakes....about a 50/50 mix between blueberries and pancakes, which was not too many berries! Set up the solar shower- we've learned not to count on warm sunny days and to take advantage of them when the chance presents itself. Smoke is less this morning, and it's very still. Decided to paddle part of Little Sag, and got nice photos of the bluff from out on the water. Lots of empty campsites- saw 3 taken and at least 5 empty. We didn't get over to the northern shore, wind started really picking up. We stopped at a little island campsite and had lunch on the way back....very nice firepit but didn't see any decent tent pads. Jesse fished on the way back, without luck. Had our showers when we got back, then sat in the shade. I added a packet of shredded beef to our mushroom risotto- looked oddly like tuna in the packet, but tasted good. Jesse picked more blueberries for our dessert tonight...lemon blueberry cheesecake from Packit Gourmet. ~Little Saganaga Lake


Day 5 of 16

Wednesday, August 02, 2023 A gorgeous morning. We had bacon and potato pancakes, then decided to see if the long channel to Ecstasy Lake is navigable. We followed little channels through the floating bog, portaged over a beaver dam, but eventually were blocked by the bog...just couldn't find a way through. It was lovely and remote feeling. Paddled back to the portage between Mora and Little Sag and found a cool cavelike area behind a massive rock (15x30x20?) took lots of photos of reflections and a couple real cool videos. Not sure if the videos will loads into this report, but I'll try. (Looks like it doesn't work, sorry!) Had lunch at the first campsite on Little Sag- it would be great for a larger group, lots of tent pads. Once we got back to camp we swam....such a hot day. Glad we weren't portaging in it, and hoping for cooled weather tomorrow. Had a cold dinner- Many Beans Salad and Mango Chicken Salad wraps.


Day 6 of 16

Thursday, August 03, 2023 Jesse brewed coffee last night and put it in our spare nalgene, so we had that cold this morning along with granola bars after we broke camp. On the water within an hour of sunrise. Got mildly turned around in the maze of islands but figured it out together and portaged into the string of ponds leading to Elton. If the water had been much lower we have been better off taking the longer portage- pretty shallow in spots. Then into Makwa- what a pretty lake. I wasn't much impressed with the campsites though- the first one had a clump of cedars leaning over the firegrate, the second one was ok but nothing special, and the third one would be awesome in, say, October or May...full sun, zero shade of any kind.

So, on to Pan. I hadn't looked much at the portages along this section except to note that they all looked pretty short. If I HAD looked at descriptions, we wouldn't have taken the fake horrible not-really-a-portage out of Panhandle! At least we figured it out with just the packs, swore a little, walked the real portage back, bushwhacked over to our canoe, and paddled over to the very nice, wide, not full of branches that hate you portage. LOL! There were lots of footprints on that awful fake portage, so at least we weren't the only ones to be fooled....but still. I was going to rate it a one for least well maintained.

Looked at both sites on Pan and took the eastern one. Better shade and it's so hot. Smoke is moving in again. We drank loads of water, ate lunch, and swam. By 330 the site was getting really decent shade. Sweet Potato Chili Mac for dinner was delicious. ~Little Saganaga Lake, Elton Lake, Makwa Lake, Panhandle Lake, Pan Lake


Day 7 of 16

Friday, August 04, 2023 Easy day today....took the first site on the Kawishiwi River. Scenic and a zillion blueberries. The portage into the Kawishiwi was very pretty...cliffs on the other side of the creek. The campsite looks heavily used and has foil in the ashes.

Saw two groups before noon, but we've really seen very few people this year. Skies are threatening rain and it's cooler today. Collected firewood, set up camp, picked 2 cups of blueberries. Saw a grouse on a portage trail, and in camp a snapping turtle and garter snake. ~Pan Lake, Anit Lake, Kivaniva Lake, Kawishiwi River


Day 8 of 16

Saturday, August 05, 2023 Got a leisurely start coffee and blueberry pancakes, on the water around 9. There were swans in the mist when we got up, and we paddled by them as we headed downriver. Portaged through into Beaver Lake, and ran into a group of 2, a Boy Scout Troop, and a solo......wait, that soloist is Kevin, from my community garden! So cool to run into a friend. We ate lunch together and he told us about his trip so far...his first solo. Then we parted ways- Kevin headed to Makwa and us down the gorgeous cliff lined portage to Adams.

Beaver was a lovely lake, with so many tall red and white pines, but I'm glad we kept going. Took the campsite down the east arm of Adams, small but very private. Lots of well chewed moose bones lying around, and a tiny cone of fossilized poo at the bottom of the latrine with no TP left. Not sure anyone else has camped here this year.

Started the solar shower heating, and Jesse renovated a trail that leads along the shore to a cedar grove and then up a cliff. We're halfway through the trip now, so this is our second layover point.

~Kawishiwi River, Beaver Lake, Adams Lake


Day 9 of 16

Sunday, August 06, 2023 Got up and went fishing before breakfast- Jesse caught a tiny walleye, but that's it. Put the little guy back to get some size on him. Went back to camp and made coffee and a big breakfast, then headed back out to explore this long twisty arm of Adams. Floating bog on both sides, full of pitcher plants, bog rosemary, tamaracks, water lillies. Then went out onto the main body of the lake and checked out some of the campsites. The island one is gorgeous, but obviously heavily used. It's in a lovely mature cedar grove, densely shaded but pretty well beaten down and zero wood. The 2 sites on the western shore didn't look like much from the water, but we didn't get out to investigate.

Gathered water to filter later and Jesse fished some more- caught something big that got away and had lots of small fish investigating his bait, but nothing of eating size.

Back in camp we had backwoods charcuterie....olives, jerky, cheese, triscuits. Had a large mixed flock of chickadees and siskins move through camp, and also saw a family of mergansers, an osprey, hummingbird, and so many bluejays. Had a rainshower while having dinner and a larger one overnight.

~Adams Lake


Day 10 of 16

Monday, August 07, 2023 We're off to Boulder lake and the longish portage into Ledge, getting an early start to beat the heat, we hope. Just 2 short portages into Boulder, at least on the map. seems to have been abandoned due to beaver activity, so poled up the channel to the dam, unloaded and pulled over the dam, paddled to the second portage, and another beaver dam, and we should be on Boulder, but we're not. There's a serious shallow section on the creek that we portaged our gear through, and then a point right at Boulder where we had to unload our gear again due to low water. No plan survives the beavers! Boulder is such a pretty lake- almost wish we were stopping here. Tall white pines around pretty much the entire lake. Island site taken...first people we've seen in a couple days. The Boulder to Ledge portage was...not wonderful. Nasty switchback uphill section in the hot sun right after we crossed the creek, and felt way longer than it looked on the map. Maybe it was just hot. Anyway, got 'er done and were happy to see the campsite on Ledge open. A day full of mostly type 2 fun!

Very pretty site full of youngish white pines. One we called the leaning tower of treeza because at some point it fell almost all the way over, and all the branches on the top of the leaning trunk became leaders. There is what could be a rusted out stove and a gas can in the woods east of camp. Cut some wood, had iced coffee and sat in the shade.

Just at dusk we heard a beaver repeatedly thwacking it's tail. Finally got out my binoculars....and there's a bear in the shallow water across the lake. Don't know if it was fishing or if it wanted to swim across the lake to where the lodge was and eat beavers, but the beaver was having none of it! Finally the bear wandered back into the woods. ~Adams Lake, Boulder Lake, Ledge Lake


Day 11 of 16

Tuesday, August 08, 2023 Got up early and had cold coffee and bars again. At the 160r portage into Vee by 7 am, which is on the wrong side of the creek on mackenzie maps. Not hard at all compared to yesterday. Then the 80r into Fee, which has a lovely campsite that again is not on my map. A 40r jump into Hoe had us there by maybe 1030. The site is very acceptable, several decent tent pads although not many options if you use a hammock or need to hang a pack. Got camp set up and headed over to check out the edge of the Mugwump PMA.

Mayway was easy to access, just down a channel full of lilypads. Cookosh was a pull over at a beaver dam, and so pretty, with high cliffs and white pines. We went back to Mayway to see if we could find the old portage to Amimi...which on my map DOES have a campsite (LOL). Found the old portage and were able to follow it to Amimi. You could get a canoe through, but you'd be dealing with some serious muck before you hit open water. I did lay down a portage track on OSM. There was a cool cliff down the lake with a wolf spider as long as a dollar bill.

Paddled back to camp, chased by rain clouds that have now caught up to us. Lots of thunder but no lightning here. It's raining but we're dry under the tarp. Got dinner done and ate and then the sky opened up...torrential sideways rain and wind. Headed off to bed early. The tent did drip around one of the vents in the fly, but nothing major.

~Ledge Lake, Vee Lake, Fee Lake, Hoe Lake


Day 12 of 16

Wednesday, August 09, 2023 Rain quit last night just before full dark. Woke up to low fluffy clouds and blue sky. Had hot coffee and "Rocky Mt Scramble"- needs less water and WAAAAY less black pepper. Portages today very wet, and this section from Ledge to Makwa is much more overgrown than Makwa to Adams. We had hoped for the sand beach campsite on the point on Little Sag, but it was taken. The group there looked like they had all their possessions hung to dry.

Continued on along the northwest side of Little Sag and found a pretty nice site on a rocky point with a small sandy beach on both sides. Campsite is marked wrong both on the map and in OSM. Someone arranged some nice rock tables/benches and there's lots of wood. Got showers today...always feels so good. The only good place to hang it was on the latrine trail, but it's a real long and scenic latrine trail so that was okay. Had lunch and iced coffee and cut wood before our showers. Big grey clouds scudding by, but it never rained so we had a nice fire and watched the stars come out. Kinda buggy...I had my own personal pet dragonfly harvesting mosquitos behind my chair.

~Hoe Lake, Elton Lake, Little Saganaga Lake


Day 13 of 16

Thursday, August 10, 2023 Another short travel day. We have time for another layover, so figured we'd check out campsites until we found one we wanted to spend an extra day at. Portage inot Virgin from Little Sag was pretty hilly- got my heart pumping, Virgin campsite wasn't lovely, West Fern also nothing special. Portage into Powell was short, but had some tricksy footing better the boulders and the beavers.

The site on the south shore of Powell is fantastic for a small group. One big tent pad, and another smaller one that we used for our kitchen/rain shelter. Both are protected from wind. The rock fireplace at the top of the hill is a marvel of fire engineering. It actually looks like a safe place to have a fire even though it's exposed to wind from several direction, and has beautiful built in tables on either side. Mix of clouds and sun now.

I'm lounging in the shade and Jesse is gathering wood. Might try to stay up and stargaze tonight...we only have 3 nights left. Today we made butter coffee. Accidentally. This is not optimal! Jesse shook the coffee/cream mixture in it's little nalgene too was odd but we drank it.

Good lord, everytime we get out food the wasps come out to play! They were landing in our soup bowls, on our spoons, even trying to fly into Jesse's mouth. Not cool! Running around on the rocks trying to eat without eating a wasp is hilarious but still not very fun. Clouds moving in this evening- looking like solid rain coming.        ~Little Saganaga Lake, Virgin Lake, West Fern Lake, Powell Lake


Day 14 of 16

Friday, August 11, 2023 Rain started overnight and hasn't really quit. There are occasional breaks, but it's real wet out. We broke camp and headed to Gillis, where we found wind, steady rain, and pretty respectable waves. Glad the Quetico is so stable when loaded. Quartered the wind across Gillis, passing 2 occupied sites, and portaged into Bat.

All sites on Bat were open. We checked out the 2 we hadn't stayed at- the one on the north side was windy and exposed, though the tent pad is flat and sandy, probably drains well. Rocks around the fire set up to have only one of the short sides open...weird. Ended up at the middle site. It's a nice site, would be good for larger groups and kids- lots of trails around and plenty of shade if it's hot. Still drizzling on and off, but we have wood if the rain quits and a dry tent. Hoping for less moisture tomorrow.

~Powell Lake, French Lake, Gillis Lake, Bat Lake


Day 15 of 16

Saturday, August 12, 2023 Yep, it's still raining.....that soul sucking low cloud drizzle. Jesse got up to see if maybe it was just dripping off the trees but nope, it's a low grey cloudy mess. He knows I might have kept going yesterday and already be warm and dry in Duluth, but I've left it up to him. This is his one trip of the year, and I have way better rain gear, and I don't get bored in the woods. Whatever we do is fine by me, but he has never ended a trip early for any reason. Now he's standing outside the tent, and I hear him say "I hate to even say this, but should we bail?" I'm so proud of him! It's taken until he turned 40, but he's learned to change his mind. I pack up the inside of the tent while he gets the other gear squared away and we off down that annoying set of portage, paddle 10 seconds, portage, repeat that leads to Round Lake.

The portage out of Brandt has been totally redone since we came through 2 weeks ago- it's uphill and out of the muck. Nicely done!

Showers and lunch at Trail center and headed home- I tell Jesse that I want to pretend that all the wet gear in the back of my car doesn't exist until tomorrow and he agrees to come over and help me get everything dried out tomorrow.   ~Round Lake, West Round Lake, Edith Lake, Brant Lake, Gotter Lake, Flying Lake, Green Lake, Bat Lake


Day 16 of 16

Sunday, August 13, 2023   


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