3-night trip with me and my 2 boys (9 & 7) in early August.
I have read through some of the other suggestions in this forum and they are much appreciated, but I find myself unable to pick and pull the trigger on an entry pt!
Trip goals - I just want to give them a taste of canoe camping and the boundary waters. I've only done car camping with them in the past. So, I do want to do some portaging. With 3 days we can't accomplish much of a "route", but I would like to move sites one of the days (probably not every night, they might get sick of the packing and unpacking process). We will do some fishing, but probably not a ton. Swimming is pretty important. I'd like to stay on as much small water as possible - big lakes with the kids paddling scares me.
So I've checked the permit availability for our entry date and eliminated ones I have no interest in for whatever reason. Here's what I'm left with:
1 - Trout Lake...we'd get a tow across Vermillion, start paddling on Trout and head immediately to Pine and base camp there. It seems like a nice lake and maybe used less than a lot of lakes with as many sites as it has.
6 - Slim Lake...this entry which leads to 3 different one-site lakes intrigues me. I think the kids would really get a kick out of having our own lake. The fact that there are only 6 sites available without taking a 500+ rod portage scares me a bit though.
8 - Moose River...this is a river paddle with a couple portages to Big Moose Lake, which we would probably just base camp on for the 3 nights. Not sure if that is too big of a lake for us though.
25/26 - Wood Lake/Moose Lake...if we did either of these I'd probably be targeting the same area - the Good Lake, Indiana Lake, Wind Bay, Hoist Bay area...and could probably connect the 2 entries to complete a little "route."
27 - Snowbank...would probably try to cruise right across Snowbank and get to Disappointment..campsites galore. It looks like we could possibly put together a "route" up around to Boot Lake and exit at the same place. Snowbank scares me a bit though.
38/39 - Sawbill/Baker Lake...these might lead me to the same area (Burnt, Smoke) and we could probably go in one and out the other if we wanted to. At Sawbill we could choose to go west though to Beth/Grace, etc. The amount of permits that go in at Sawbill every day kind of scares me though - how crowded is it going to be?!
41 - Brule...I would probably try to b-line up Brule to Brule Bay on far east side of the lake, then maybe to Vernon. Brule scares me a bit though...
51 - Missing Link...I'd probably be targeting Snipe Lake if we went in here. Maybe Cross Bay/Rib.
So....what am I overlooking here? Any that you think I should totally eliminate based on my stated goals and the fact I'll have 2 young-ish kids along? Anything stand out as an entry I shouldn't miss?
First off, I love going in Aug with kids. Temps are warm, and bugs tend to be down. We started taking ours when they were toddlers (now 12,15 + 18). I've taken them by myself as well with my husband. We prefer smaller water ourselves - besides feeling safer, I think there is more to see. With regards to your questions, I'll reply to the places I've been to myself. You already know that generally you're going to encounter more people, so just get an early start and don't sweat it...you'll find a site. Try to get to a site by noonish if you can. 3o'clock is too late in my opinion.
6 - Slim Lake: While we haven't camped in this area, we did day trip there in Aug for fun. It felt very quiet and none of the campsites were occupied. The first site on the western side of Slim is very nice. I believe there were some nice rocks that looked good for swimming or lounging on. We lunched on the site at Rice Lake. It has a nice western view and is wooded. I don't remember what the tent pads were like. Rice Lake must be fairly shallow as there were lots of wild rice plants.
27 Snowbank: I found the area as well as Disappointment both busy areas. We also got caught on a very windy day on Snowbank - not very fun. It wouldn't be my first pick with kids.
41 - Brule: While a nice lake, I think I'd skip it with younger kids. The wind is unpredictable - as you know it's a big lake.
38/39: Sawbill: This is a gorgeous area with many route options, north, east or west. Yes, it's a popular area, but people are headed in all sorts of directions. Even seeking out a site back in a bay may help you feel further from the crowds. You could head up the Kelso River and camp along that area. The portage from Sawbill into the Kelso River is a cinch. Campsite 872 on Kelso Lake is beautiful with some rocks that you could swim off on the shore. Downside is that it has been used quite a bit, but I still thought it was pretty. More of the traffic should be headed in other areas as the Kelso-Lujenida portage is pretty long and it keeps the crowds away. The Kelso River system is very scenic. You'd have options to day trip down into Alton or north into Zenith. I've been north to Long Island, Cherokee as well as east through Smoke, Burnt, etc. All of those areas are scenic with a variety of site options and day trips.
I agree with not moving camp much. We've done it both ways with our kids and find that not moving more than a couple of times seems to keep everyone happy.
Lastly, maybe you've done something like this, but whenever we bring anyone new(er) to the BW, we have a fun BW 101 day in our yard and at our local lake. Geared toward whatever age we're dealing with we cover both land and waters skills. You don't need to cover every last thing with young kids, but getting them to participate makes it fun for all and they start to get a sense of what to expect. Plus, since you're not going until Aug, you can break it down...one weekend you cover aspects of the tent (camp in the backyard), another weekend you cook over a campfire or take the canoe to a local lake (you get the idea). When we packed with young kids in the early days, we just used their school backpacks and all they carried were their clothes, camp shoes, water bottle, whistle, stuffed animal/book, and raingear. They usually hiked the portages with their pfd's on...or carabinered to their pack.
Best wishes for a really fun trip! Let us know how it goes.
Photo from when my friend and I took our kids (and 1 extra buddy) one cool August. We put in at Moose River and base camped at Agnes. By this time every kid, except the youngest, could portage the canoe or pack, and set up camp. :) Setting up their own tent. Feeding tweens + teens.
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