Find the trail to the top of the Clearwater Palisade and make the climb! Gorgeous view and kids would love it. My 15-year-old granddaughter did it with her Grandpa a few years ago and she took fabulous photos at the top. (I have made the climb also but didn't go on this particular outing.) If you ask at Clearwater Lodge they will give you directions to find the trail. (One warning--you probably knew this--but there is no railing. Kids must be cautioned not to get too close to the edge, no horseplay!)
Clearwater is a beautiful lake. Very scenic. And there are some good trips available out of Clearwater. It is a favorite of mine. And, if you don't want to go far, there are some nice campsites right on the lake, too. And a side trip to Johnson Falls will be one your kids will enjoy.
We stayed on Clearwater our last night in order to get an early start on our return home. We had the first site from west - the one that can be accessed by the Border Route Trail. Nice site and large enough to accommodate your group.
Clearwater is a big long lake that has 400 feet high palisades on the south shore and smaller hills on the north shore. It is mostly situated West to East, so it’s basis wind tunnel. I have been on this lake many times before. The motor traffic is not that bad, no big deal. If I were you be sure to travel before the winds pick up. There are not a lot of campsites there so take one if you see it open. There is an easy trail up to the top of the palisades, nice lunch spot. I would definitely suggest this lake for your group but be aware of the wind. Travel early in the day if you move. Great smallmouth fishing there.
Should have mentioned that you can get a tow to the campsites/portages on Clearwater through Clearwater Lodge/Outfitters. Would save some paddle time. Clearwater Lodge
My 12 year old son and I recently returned from a trip this month to Clearwater. Had same concerns with campsite availability and wind as this was our first BWCA trip. We hit good weather and wind was not an issue except for a few hours one afternoon when a storm skirted our area (no rain, but wind). We were on the water at the time, but just stayed close to shore.
We were also able to find available campsites - from reports the site on Little Caribou is very popular and it was open when we were passing through. Didn’t stay, but could have. Now, we did make it a point to get on the water early on our travel days.
We were also interested in paddling “Canadian Waters” and did so by taking the Clearwater to Mountain portage. There is a US/Canada border marker on the Watap/Mountain portage. We had lunch there and took photos. Also stayed 2 nights on Pine and would highly recommend Johnson Falls visit. Little bit of a hike, but after portaging gear, the hike to Johnson Falls - gear free- is easy!
If you don’t have a permit for this area, I would look now. They can be hard to get during popular times. Would also suggest calling Clearwater Lodge with your questions. Nice folks who took the time to answer all of my silly questions.
It is a beautiful area!
Clearwater is long but skinny. We (dad and two boys 13 and 10) paddled it in a rain storm and had no wind issues. Caribou and Little Caribou are great lakes to get to. The only campsite on Little Caribou is the best site I have ever been on. It had everything; views, fishing, firewood aplenty, space, flat tents spaces, trees for hammocks and hanging food, easy landing (if you go around the corner and don't try to get out at the first place you see) and great swimming.... Also I would try to get to Johnson Falls if you are in this area. We went there every day. It was late May and the water was cold but swimming in the pool was refreshing.
I am trying to plan our first overnight trip. We have done daytrips out of sawbill for the last 5ish years. It will be me (mom), 16g, 13b, 10b, and 8b. I was planning for sawbill since it is familiar to us. But I found Clearwater lake and it looks like there are many things to go see there, falls, but, and my daughter has been begging to paddle in Canadian waters just to say she did. Anyway, I am worried since it is a large lake and motors are allowed. Is it windy there a lot? We aren't the best paddlers (we have the least skill but the most fun) and I'm worried we will not be able to paddle if it gets windy. Also, do the campsites fill up all the time in july/August? My kids get tired and I worry we would have to paddle and portage way too far to find an open campsite. Any advice is appreciated.