BWCA Entry Point, Route, and Trip Report Blog
November 29 2023
Number of Permits per Day: 2
Elevation: 1256 feet
North Fowl Lake * - 70
8th Trip for the Winona Group
July 27, 2023
North Fowl Lake
Number of Days:
Prior to the start we stayed at the Hippie Hostel outside Grand Marias which we highly recommend. There we formulated the path we would take on this trip with our goal to make it to Little Caribou campsite on day 2 in hopes to get lucky to stay a few nights. Day 1 started by putting in at McFarland Lake around 7:30am and heading to the Royal River. We decided to avoid the portages and run the Royal River instead as we received quite a bit of rain the previous night and it didn't look too bad. This overall wasn't too bad of a decision but often found ourselves walking the canoe through the rocks. After the first "portage" we quickly came across a young Moose cooling off in the river and were able to get some nice pictures of. After navigating the weedy Royal Lake we "portaged" the next session and found ourselves finally at our lake.
Here we ran into large water and lots of paddling which thankfully wasn't a headwind yet. We got to the 130 rod portage to Moose which we double portaged but wasn't too bad, bits of mud here and there. Moose was another longer paddle but we made good time as the headwind slowly picked up.
We felt that the 140 rod portage from Moose felt significantly longer and more difficult than the previous 130 rod portage. This may have been to a lack of nutrition and not stopping to eat other than some GORP here and there. During the 3 portages from Moose to Mountain, morale was getting lower and lower, especially for the 2 virgins of the trip. When we landed to Mountain lake it was decided that no matter what campsites looked like, we would be staying on Mountain to rest before the next day. We ended up staying at site 721 for the night before moving on. No fishing was had this day.
We woke up early to hit the water in hopes of making it to Little Caribou by 12:00pm. We made quick work of the portage into Clearwater where we enjoyed a short paddle through calm waters and onto the 200 rod portage into Caribou.
Overall this portage wasn't too bad but being the biggest one on the trip, it just carries that weight that it's going to be difficult. It was in good condition and we ended up doing fairly well on it. We decided that when we landed at Caribou we'd stake out the campsite on either side where another group would head to Little Caribou and report back. I was surprised when we entered Little Caribou to see it open. We all quickly set up camp and decided this was one of the finer campsites we've had in our 8 trips as a group. We were able to fish where we caught some decent size Bass and some walleyes just off the campsite. The morale was improving as we traveled less and landed a nice site.
We woke up, fished, caught some more walleye and Bass then headed to Johnson Falls for a day trip. A quick portage and very quick paddle into Pine brought us to the trailhead. We got to the 1st waterfalls and all jumped in for a swim, the water was very refreshing. We then moved up to the upper waterfall where it was just as refreshing and climbed and hung around for a bit before moving down to the rock bed and having lunch.
We returned back to camp to do some more fishing and relaxing where we had another monster fish fry. Morale was still very high as we enjoyed what this site provided and got to relax.
Nearly every party coming through made mention how they hoped to stay at that site which showed how lucky we were to land this site. The next day we needed to make it to the east end of Pine so we had a long paddle ahead.
We broke camp early and were on the water for the ~8mile paddle to the opposite side of Pine where we had 3 campsites in our mind to set us up for the final day. All 3 were available but we settled on the Grass Knoll right next to the flow from Pine to McFarland. It was a bit disheartingn looking behind camp to see houses but given it was our last day, we were ok with it.
We ended up all going swimming down the portage, fished a little bit, and skipped a lot of rocks. We had a strong tailwind the entire paddle which took us about 2 hours to complete and was rewarded with a nice breeze throughout camp while we were there. We worked hard to finish all our food, play some cards, and get to bed early for an early 5am wake up as some of us had to travel to Madison.
Overall this trip provided some amazing sites, great fishing, lots of memories made, and a few virgins who want to come back in 2 years for the next trip. I'm looking forward to doing it all over again in a new area and sharing those memories for years to come.