My wife and i basically did this trip in reverse, July 31 to Aug 3. We entered #47 on Poplar and Exited at Tuscarora Outfitters on Round #51. Great trip. Stayed first night on Winchell (site 761). Enjoyed this site. Great landing and protection from a tough storm during the night. 13 miles traveled, 10 paddle and 3 portage. Second day traveled in the rain. Traveled to Long Island Lake (site 564). By far the toughest day of portages. The "wall" (Kiskadina to Muskeg) was just that, steep and treacherous. There was also the confusion of all the beaver dams going from Muskeg to Long Island. Portage is nothing but huge boulders, thank god it was rather short. 10 miles traveled, 7 paddle and 3 portage. Day three we went from Long Island to Snipe (site 2011). By far our best day. Easy travel and best weather. Snipe is a very pretty lake. 8 miles traveled, 6 paddle and 2 portage. Our fourth day was a very short day. We were to Tuscarora before noon. Easy paddling, two long portages. 5 miles traveled, 2 paddle and 3 portage. Overall roughly 36 miles. We double portaged every portage. We traveled 16 lakes and had 15 portages (5,4,4,2).
trip to Winchell Lake Falls
Here's a video I made of our trip to the Winchell Lake Falls. It was a cool spot to visit!
One more thing on the swamp portages. I was told by another paddler that they were basically a swamp and it was terrible they didn't want to brave a windy poplar lake
We just did this trip a couple of weeks ago except we took 6 days. 1 night on rib , 2 nights on omega this was our favorite,and two on horseshoe. We stuck to the smaller lakes because of wind. it took us about 4 hours to exit against the wind with rain in our face. The two portages mentioned previously we are tough but we took our time and it wasn't so bad when we reached the end of them. Cool carnivorous plants on cross bay. Busy area. Have fun.
You have the route planned about right as far as time goes. Can you build in another day for relaxing?"
I hope to turn this into a four night trip*. Last time I took a new person to the BWCA, we stayed at three different campsites, and at the second campsite, stayed two nights with a rest day in between. I thought that worked out really well.
If we did it on this trip, our rest day would likely be on Winchell. The overlook looks like a good morning hike, leaving us with a lazy afternoon.
* Five nights, counting the bunkhouse.
I was told to avoid the 3 portages from Gaskin to Horseshoe by several members on here when I asked a similar question. I just came back from a trip from Poplar to Gaskin and back. I did the same trip last year. The portage from Gaskin to Horseshoe is easy going that direction. You have the route planned about right as far as time goes. Can you build in another day for relaxing?
i did a similar trip in 2012. I liked it and it's pretty much straightforward, except as noted. The LI-Muskeg portage is a real ankle breaker - practically nothing other than rocks and some down trees to step over. I went in Sept and as sedges noted the beaver dam could be real interesting in high water. The "Wall" is very steep is with some high step ups. The canoe will need to be tipped considerably to keep from banging the ground. You will not average 2 mph on these portages. The Kiskadinna-Omega portage has a little awkwardness to start. If necessary you can shorten by going straight from Omega to Horseshoe via Henson and Pillsbury. Lizz is the way to go. I wouldn't let any of that stop you, just be forewarned. It's a nice trip. I think I put some pictures in a trip report.
That looks about right. The second day is a rough portage day. The short LIL to Muskeg may be interesting in spring. It goes right up the creek and then over a 4 foot high beaver dam. Real bouldery. As Cowdoc said Muskeg to Kisskadina has some real climbs. It goes over the Hudson Bay/ St, Lawrence river divide. The view from the top is looking out over the canopy of the forest. I like this portage a lot. I paced off three equally sections to break it up. That made it real easy and enjoyable for an old guy.
Its a very scenic route with both old forest and recovering burn areas, nice campsites. I didn't feel that I had to go off exploring. The route itself offers great diversity of scenery.
As you face the cliff, trail starts way to right (west).....about where all the big rocks taper off and you get tree lined bank. There are multiple paths that eventually join up to one that goes up the west side of cliff. Not an easy climb...gotta squeeze up through the crevices. Little confusing on top as you have to work your way back out to front of cliff...again, multiple trails. Just keep your bearings and look for the big open rock outcropping.
The waterfall is hard to see from water, but you will hear it. Gotta climb up through some trees along the shore to get up to the staircase like waterfall. You can climb up it all the way to top.
Jump/Allen route has some tricky little portage landings.
Never talked to anyone that took the Swamp route.
The portage from Muskeg to Kisk is known as "the wall". It's a thumper.....
Planning a trip this spring with a group. Most of us have BWCA experience, but one or two do not.
I'm planning for a conservative 2.5 mph paddle speed, 2 mph double portaging speed. Max six hours of travel time a day. With new people, I'd rather plan for slower rather than faster.
I'm planning for four days of travel, with a short fourth day in order to give time for the drive home.
The route is Cross Bay (EP50) down to Long Island Lake (5h16mt), then from Long Island to Omega and over to Winchell (5h48m), then up to Horseshoe (southwest arm) and to Caribou (4h25m), and finally over to Poplar and exit (1:54m).
A few questions:
I'm told there's a trail up to the top of the cliffs on the south shore of Winchell. Any pointers on finding it?
Anything I should know about the waterfall on Winchell?
The route goes directly from Gaskin to Horseshoe. Any reason to take Gaskin/Jump/Allen/Horseshoe route instead?
The route goes from Horseshoe to Poplar via Lizz. Any reason to go via Swamp instead?
Anything else I should check out on this route?