Boundary Waters Trip Reports, Blog, BWCA, BWCAW, Quetico Park

BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog

December 09 2022

Entry Point 62 - Clearwater Lake

Clearwater Lake entry point allows overnight paddle or motor (10 HP max). 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 33 miles. Motors allowed on Clearwater Lake only. This area was affected by blowdown in 1999.

Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1673 feet
Latitude: 48.0702
Longitude: -90.3752
Clearwater Lake - 62

Clearwater Loop - Rookie Texans

by sallyclemmons
Trip Report

Entry Date: July 25, 2022
Entry Point: Clearwater Lake
Number of Days: 5
Group Size: 3

Trip Introduction:
This BWCA trip was hatched in our family from reading "Trapping the Boundary Waters" by Charlie Cook last year. Me and my two grown sons decided to head north and see what the BWCA was all about. The week far surpassed our expectations in beauty, effort, and overall experience - amazing!!!

Day 1 of 5


Monday, July 25, 2022 We spent a wonderful night at historic Clearwater Lodge in the Voyageurs room - I highly recommend it. As newcomers to the north country it was interesting to read about the history of the lodge and surrounding areas. Clearwater Lodge was great about outfitting us for the trip and offered useful advice on the route - we also bought leeches from Ugly Bait shop down the road. We were paddling by 9 am and the weather was great - nice paddle past the palisades on Clearwater and easily found the portage to Mountain. We dropped gear at the Border Route Trail and hiked up to the eastern overlook; it was beautiful and gave a great view of Canada and surrounding lakes. We made it to Mountain campsite 5 by 2:30 and set up camp. We caught smallies on the first cast with leeches and had great luck with them the entire trip. Mosquitos were nonexistent until around 7 and then they arrived with a vengeance - fortunately we had nets. That evening we had a nice sunset cruise on the lake and played guitar and sang. We also heard and saw our first loons; what a beautiful and haunting sound. Slept great after a hot meal.

 



Day 2 of 5


Tuesday, July 26, 2022 Beautiful sunrise with mist coming off the water. We had a hot breakfast of biscuits and gravy and were paddling by 9. Mountain is a beautiful remote lake - we saw no people while there, which was the point. The paddle was easy to the portage to Moose - this was a tough portage with mud, swamp, and rocky trails. We had to double, which is a pain - try to avoid this if possible. By now we were settling into camp life and feeling relaxed with no set time for fulfilling responsibilities; enjoying the beautiful scenery and wildlife. Upon exiting the portage into Moose we saw our first of 13 bald eagles, and it was exciting for us! By the end of this trip we could recognize the majestic bird easily, but never tired of seeing them. It gives a sense of patriotism and pride in being an American. We could see that a storm was heading our way so hurried to set up camp on site #3 - a tarp is a necessity on a BWCA trip. Heavy rains for about 4 hours and then clear - we saw one group paddle eastward in the downpour. This site had amazing rocks at the landing and many loons and ducks. The rain cleared and we had a hot meal and then to bed with a good book - thankful for God’s creation and the opportunity to spend time in it with family.

 



Day 4 of 5


Wednesday, July 27, 2022 Up to sunshine early - interesting that there are so many hours of daylight in these north woods. We had another hot breakfast while donning mosquito nets - this site is in the woods so the mosquitoes are abundant. We were paddling by 8:30 and easily found the portage to North Fowl - this was a long portage but we did see a ruffed grouse on the trail. My son took a video of the female since he was ahead of us on the trail. When we caught up with him she was still in the woods and came back out when he played the video/audio of her calling. Wild! Upon entering North Fowl we saw another bald eagle - this lake is full of them. We got close views of 3 in trees on the island and southern shore. The grasses in the lake are beautiful, and we really liked North Fowl. We spent a good bit of time here watching eagles and looking for moose (with no luck.) We also saw Tundra swans, a family of loons, and mergansers. There are several interesting cabins on this lake - one even had an outdoor sauna which would not be seen in Texas. Nice weather and paddle to the portage, which is difficult to find. You need to paddle down the river and it is on the right. We had two different maps and used both of them throughout the trip to find portages. While portaging I came upon a strange animal in the middle of the trail - we both stopped about 5 feet apart and stared at each other before it scampered off. Once at camp I researched and realized it was a woodchuck! As soon as we entered Royal River I heard the sounds of a raptor, and behold, there was a huge bald eagle nest with an adult and juvenile directly across from the portage. The adult flew away and circled while we were there - I recommend bringing binoculars on this trip. This was a real treat for us. Royal Lake can be confusing, so have a map and compass to find the portage on the north end. It is beautiful open water and unlike the other lakes. The palisades were beautiful, but we couldn’t find the portage north up the river to John Lake - this resulted in us pulling the canoes up. Don’t do this - find the portage! John was a pretty little lake, and straight into Little John and McFarland. We didn’t enjoy McFarland as much because of a strong headwind and too many houses there. We did see more bald eagles, ducks, and loons, but the paddle in the storm was tough. We paddled into Pine around 4:00 and got the site on the eastern point, which was amazing. Sunset was magazine worthy, and we caught more smallies. This was a long day and we were very tired. Hot supper and then to bed so we could get an early start up Pine the next day. This is a top site for sure!

 



Day 6 of 5


Thursday, July 28, 2022 We were up at 5 am - breakfast of oatmeal and then ready to paddle to the end of Pine. Winds picked up during the night - very tough paddle against the wind and rain for 4 hours straight to get to the portage to Little Caribou. During the paddle from hell we did see bald eagles and a beautiful rainbow; true adventure includes the hard times. Daniel, who was in the solo canoe had a better paddle today because we weighted the front of his canoe with gear. Me and Stephen soldiered on against the wind. The white pines are beautiful on Pine and a sight to see. There were some empty sites on Pine, but we did have a group behind us at the portage to Little Caribou. Daniel quickly headed across the short portage and snagged the site on Little Caribou - what a site! This little lake is a piece of heaven and full of loons, ducks, and beavers. After lunch the guys napped and I took a swim off of the rocks below the site; this was a magical afternoon of fishing, relaxation, reflection, and garter snakes! They were all over the rocky ledge and kept us all company throughout our stay. We went to Johnson Falls later in the afternoon and had it all to ourselves; be sure and go to the upper falls. Our last evening on trail was serene with a beautiful sunset, music, and watching beavers steadily work. We had chicken alfredo and chocolate dessert and stayed up until 10 enjoying our last bit of true peace and absence from the “world.”

 



Day 8 of 5


Friday, July 29, 2022 Up at 5:30 am to clear skies - breakfast of oatmeal and then packing up for the last time. It is always nice to pack up dry! Before launching we picked up trash at the site from previous campers - we were told there were more bears around this area. Hang your food! It was sad to leave this bit of paradise, but a nice day to paddle. The very short portage to Caribou was easy, and Caribou is a truly beautiful lake with nice sites. We didn’t talk much nearing the end of this trip, just paddled on reflecting on the week with gratefulness. As we neared the portage to Clearwater there was a family of loons calling and a bald eagle graced us with a low flyover, landing in a tree to give us a final view. As Daniel said, what an exit for us! The portage to Clearwater is long and tough, so be prepared. We stayed to the right and then paddled our final leg to the lodge. I cannot convey how wonderful, hard, and meaningful this trip to the North Woods was for us. The BWCA demands respect, but is worth the trouble to get a permit, make plans for transportation and lodging, and complete the adventure. We hope to return again, and I hope this remains a true wilderness for many years.

 


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