Well ended up stick with Isabella in a 3 person canoe (was basically the same 20.5 footer we used last year, but with 3 benches instead of 4). We went in just before the full closure, so did not hear about that until we left 2 days later.
Horrible wind made the paddling awful. Unsurprisingly had our pick of campsites, and ended up with something pretty good on Isabella. Did a day trip up the Perent River until I ran out of map (had Fisher F-4, did not expect to need to east!) Had a ranger visit us when we left on Monday, just confirming people as they came out. Scored one of the remote cabins at Tettegouche to round out the north shore trip, and did some mountain biking at Britton peak to support the outfitters!
I would strongly advise that you look for an alternative to Isabella. Yeah, there’s a forest road that remains open on the eastern edge of the closed area. I have been there multiple times. I would not dream of driving that route in the current circumstances. For the life of me I cannot understand how EP 35 remains open while the two adjacent to it are closed.
I would agree with Captn Troy. I would watch for a permit off of Fernberg road. There are outfitters in Ely or on Moose and Lake One that you could rent a canoe or canoes from. If you get the right permit you may be able to leave from their place.l would be very concerned about any entry close to a closed area due to the likelihood of more closure in that area. There seems to be cancellations coming up on the forest service site regularly. As the Greenwood fire continues to grow I am sure there will more cancelations. I wouldn’t travel from far under the present circumstances to get to the BWCA.
As a family with children at that age, or younger, we traveled with 2 canoes. We did some reasonable trip.
If you can wait until Monday to go in there are a bunch of permits open that you could use. We went in on Monday on the numbers chain and had plenty of open camp sites.
Have a permit for Saturday entry on Isabella Lake. Family of 4, kids 7 and 10.
Was supposed to go in out of Ely, but they (outfitter) can't access this area now. Am checking on a 3-4 person canoe out of Tofte/Schroeder area, but haven't locked that down yet (poor availability thus far).
On Isabella, can't go west due to closures, and apparently going east to Perent Lake is a real slog due to low water levels. Means we'd likely have to stay on Isabella (BUT with minimal portaging required, could do 2 canoes).
Other option we've discussed is the Timber Frear or similar areas. Concern there is A) this will require a 3/4 person canoe and B) with BWCA cancellations and no permits, I'm worried about campsite availability.
We haven't yet cancelled our 4 person canoe reservation in Ely; if there's an "outside the BWCA" option up there I'd consider it.
Leaning towards staying with Isabella due to high availability of campsites, but open to other suggestions. Thanks in advance.