BWCA Washburn County Forest (WI) Boundary Waters Group Forum: Other Canoe Camping Locations
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   Group Forum: Other Canoe Camping Locations
      Washburn County Forest (WI)     

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4keys
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08/12/2019 06:48PM  
Washburn County Forest has a chain of small lakes , called the Loyhead Lake canoe trail. It is very quiet and scenic, and from our observations, not well travelled. It is easy access, and mostly short portages. If all you do is paddle portage to portage, it would take a couple hours. If you paddle around each lake and spend some time fishing, it will take the day.

30 years ago my husband spent time fishing and camping in the area, so we decided to go back there. The forest has dispersed camping (online permit), and I guess years ago there were several unofficial well used campsites. Water levels dropped dramatically years ago, which probably is why people stopped going in there. This last weekend water levels were pretty high. Some of the portage signs ( yes the portages are well marked) were almost completely under water. One portage was under a few inches of water, making for a mucky walk while pulling the canoe. One trail was mostly overgrown, which surprised me seeing that it is August. Although we searched, we found only 2 old fire rings, both near portage trails. We ended up camping at one of those because it had a flat spot just big enough for a tent.

While the fishing was not very good (we did not fish Loyhead itself), it was scenic and quiet. We didn't see anyone else until late Saturday when we saw 2 guys on Bear fishing, and 4 women went thru, just paddling portage to portage. Lots of frogs, a pileated, lots of bear scat, and 1 accidentally- found geocache. To be fair, it was laying in the open on the shore near a stump, we saw it while fishing the shore.

While Loyhead is not bwca, it is close enough for a quick getaway. There is also Sawmill canoe trail just a few miles down the road, with a small primitive county campground available. I imagine the Sawmill is very similar to Loyhead.
 
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08/12/2019 11:48PM  
I was there many, many years ago. Camped at Sawmill. October. Spent one day on the Sawmill chain and one day on the Loyhead chain. Very easy paddle and portage. At that time Loyhead did not have dispersed camping, or if they did, I was not aware of it. I would have enjoyed that.

aka Birchwood Canoe Trails.
 
4keys
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08/13/2019 08:20AM  
Dispersed camping permit is found online with other permits like firewood cutting , or calling them. It was not the easiest to find. I think most use the dispersed camping during hunting season.
 
08/13/2019 08:44AM  
I'll have to check that out. I just got back from camping in the Washburn Ranger district of the Chequamegon-Nicolet NF. Wanoka Lake campground just off US Hwy 2, East of Ironwood.

It was an old CCC camp and the sites were very spacious with a canoe acess to a small lake. I did not have any neighbors at my site and the campground was only 1/3 full(weekday). I was really impressed with that area and plan on going back.
 
Jackfish
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08/13/2019 10:43AM  
Bannock: "I was there many, many years ago. Camped at Sawmill. October. Spent one day on the Sawmill chain and one day on the Loyhead chain. Very easy paddle and portage. At that time Loyhead did not have dispersed camping, or if they did, I was not aware of it. I would have enjoyed that.

aka Birchwood Canoe Trails. "

Link to the Birchwood Canoe Trails

I can't find where it says anything about camping or fees. 4keys? Bannock?
 
4keys
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08/13/2019 08:58PM  
It is $10 a night.

Go to Washburn County Gvernment- co.washburn.wi.us. - - then look under Departments for Forestry. The Forestry page has 2 things- a link to Canoeing Routes/ maps. And near the bottom of the page under Additional Information it says Special Permits. That page tells about Dispersed camping permits, and near the top of the page is a link for their online reservation system.

When you get to the reservation system (which shows as washburncountyparks.us). You need to click on the tab at the top labeled Permits. Which finally takes you to the Parks Reservation page where you can purchase the permit.

That's how I found it anyways. This might work too.

Washburn County, WI camping permits

Hope this helps.
 
4keys
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08/13/2019 09:36PM  
LindenTree: "I'll have to check that out. I just got back from camping in the Washburn Ranger district of the Chequamegon-Nicolet NF. Wanoka Lake campground just off US Hwy 2, East of Ironwood."
It looks like non-reservable sites there? I have not tried that area yet. While looking at the website for the Wanoka, I came across the Rainbow wilderness area near Drummond. Have you been there?
 
jillpine
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08/28/2019 10:06AM  
4keys: "LindenTree: "I'll have to check that out. I just got back from camping in the Washburn Ranger district of the Chequamegon-Nicolet NF. Wanoka Lake campground just off US Hwy 2, East of Ironwood."
It looks like non-reservable sites there? I have not tried that area yet. While looking at the website for the Wanoka, I came across the Rainbow wilderness area near Drummond. Have you been there?
"

4keys, I hike this area every summer. Is there something specific you'd like to know?
 
4keys
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08/28/2019 08:56PM  
HI Jillpine,
After much searching I finally found a map that actually shows where the 2 trails are in the Rainbow Wilderness. Do you know if there are any campsites along the way, maybe near a lake? I would guess they are dispersed sites, do you know if you need a permit to camp? I'm also wondering if anyone takes a canoe in to any of the lakes? I'm also wondering if it gets heavy use, or are people few and far between?

Living in central WI, and I think this area would be great for a short getaway that would be closer than the BW. I had never heard of this area until recently, and am excited to explore it.
 
jillpine
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08/28/2019 10:21PM  
4keys: "HI Jillpine,
After much searching I finally found a map that actually shows where the 2 trails are in the Rainbow Wilderness. Do you know if there are any campsites along the way, maybe near a lake? I would guess they are dispersed sites, do you know if you need a permit to camp? I'm also wondering if anyone takes a canoe in to any of the lakes? I'm also wondering if it gets heavy use, or are people few and far between?

Living in central WI, and I think this area would be great for a short getaway that would be closer than the BW. I had never heard of this area until recently, and am excited to explore it. "

From central 'sconnie, you'll have a nice time there. The area is bordered by well-maintained forest roads so, yes you can put your canoe into the little lakes and ponds around the perimeter. Reynard Lk has an actual put-in area right off the road (Southern border). I did once see a canoe on Rainbow itself - and I've often wondered what that trip in was like - it's a bit of a haul. But if folks triple portage Lujenida, well, I guess it's all relative.

Dispersed camping, there aren't developed sites but there is quite a bit of "trace" in areas that make obvious places to spend the night. I think it's gotten better in recent years, but there's definitely an element of "car camping" about it. Litter, campfire rings, beer cans closer to the road, etc. It's National forest, not county land, so no permit needed unless it's more than 75 people in your group.

For the RLW, you can't camp within 200 feet of water and you can't camp within 200 feet of NCT. I think they also prefer that you're not dispersed camping within a mile of a developed campground (such as Perch Lake), so the farther in , the better.

The North Country trail crosses NW to SE and Anderson trail (the old Anderson RR grade) runs West to East (or vice-versa). I like the latter one for a nice day-long hike. I always see signs that people have been there or are around the area (parked cars), but I never see people hiking or fishing. Definitely not a "crowded feel" at all. Panfish, some bass and NP throughout the lakes. I've paddle/fished little Beaver Lake, Anderson Lake (portaged in from the west), Flynn to the south in the non-motorized Flynn area (also really nice), Wishbone and Clay. Star Lake to the east is bigger and has a really pretty island.

The campground at Perch Lake is a gem. As a general rule, I avoid camping in areas easily accessed by the flammable combination of gasoline engines (car or motor) + alcohol. This area is an exception - I've camped, hiked, canoed, fished the area alone, alone with small kids, as family and as groups of families and never had any trouble. It's always been really quiet. People are around but it's never crowded or "full feeling" - I suppose on a peak summer weekend, but I go even then and always have a peaceful time. It's a nice area. If you see the Northstar Trillium, stop by and say hello.

Oh, also, get the Chequamegon map to help you. Another great resource is the atlas called Sportman's Connection (out of Superior, WI).

The ranger station for the area is Washburn Ranger District: (715) 373-2667, and they have always been really helpful. The area was hit hard by a storm a couple years back. Washed out some of Delta-Drummond Rd. My son and I were just getting ready to camp that afternoon when the ranger came through warning campers to either get out or plan on potentially being stuck for awhile if the road washed out, which it did. My son and I chose to leave ahead of the bad weather. We had had kind of a folly of camping errors that entire day and that was just icing on the cake, so we headed back home. You may not be going through Hayward, but if you do, Angry Minnow is a tasty place to take a rest.

When the boys were young, I used to take them mountain biking throughout the Delta-Drummond trails. It's a really neat area. If you have little kids, Twin Lakes is awesome. If you go, let me know what you think!
 
4keys
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08/29/2019 10:03PM  
Jillpine-
It sounds like you've spent quite a bit of time in the Rainbow area. I think this will be the next area to explore, although it will probably have to wait till spring. Maybe a day or two exploring the lakes with the canoe and another couple to hike the trail. I think I do have an old Chequamegon map in the drawer I will have to dig out.

Generally I try to avoid campgrounds, but when I do stay in one I try to find one like Perch Lake. Uncrowned and quiet.

We have been through Hayward many times, but I don't think I've ever stopped at the Angry Minnow. I just looked it up and it sounds like the perfect place- food and craft beer! My husband is a home brewer and likes to try new beers.

By Twin Lakes, do you mean Lake Owen? We have been there many times, dragging a canoe, fishing boat, bikes x4, and I think one year we snorkeled there too. We used to meet friends from Bemidji there because it's about halfway for both of us. We never worried about the kids biking the campground loops by themselves. We've always enjoyed our time there.

If you meant Twin Lakes over by Clam Lake and Day Lake, we've been there too, although it was many years ago. Another pretty area, tho if I remember right Day Lake had quite a few more people around.

Thanks for all the info! The RLW will be the site for our next adventure.


 
mpeebles
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09/02/2019 08:02AM  
Going to check those areas out. I never knew they existed. We're going to a wedding in Cornucopia next weekend and are going to paddle the Namekagon and St. Croix on the way back so we'll be up in that neck of the woods anyway. Weather permitting we'll paddle the sea caves on Superior as well.

Thanks for the info.

Safe travels.....
 
jillpine
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09/02/2019 12:38PM  
mpeebles: "Going to check those areas out. I never knew they existed. We're going to a wedding in Cornucopia next weekend and are going to paddle the Namekagon and St. Croix on the way back so we'll be up in that neck of the woods anyway. Weather permitting we'll paddle the sea caves on Superior as well.

Thanks for the info.

Safe travels....."



You bet, Mike! I'll be anxious to hear how it went. I forgot to add my enthusiasm for the Flynn area to the south of RLW. Also, to the west, along some of the sandy forest roads, is some cool work being done as a collaboration with Ruffed Grouse Society and USFS to establish habitat that includes chestnut-sided warbler nesting areas. You'll see the signs.
 
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