BWCA Straight Lake State Park (WI) Boundary Waters Group Forum: Other Canoe Camping Locations
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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: Other Canoe Camping Locations
      Straight Lake State Park (WI)     



distinguished member(911)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
08/18/2019 08:39AM  
This is Wisconsin's newest state park (2008), and was intentionally designed to be a "remote" experience for camping. There is no shower house, no drive-up sites, and no potable water. The camp sites are haul-in (arranged linearly along a mile-stretch of mixed hardwood- conifer forest) and are spaced wide apart, with little visibility between them and from the trail to them. You can hear other campers if they're loud, but otherwise you don't. The park provides a haul-in cart along with boat wheels for kayaks and canoes. No motors are allowed, nor are gasoline-powered ice augers.

The park has some short hiking trails (8.5 miles), one of which is contiguous with the Ice Age Trail, and contains some interesting geology, especially a river tunnel with an esker. The area is hummocky and filled with ephemeral ponds teaming with important herptile spp. (and later, mosquitoes, so come prepared for flies and mosquitoes). The website for the state park contains a really nice pdf explaining the topography landmarks.

Finally, there are two lakes contained within the park: Straight Lake (120 acres) and Rainbow Lake (much smaller) . The latter is stocked with rainbow trout by the DNR, the former contains LMB, panfish and NP.

The birding in this park area is great. The forest used to be mixed pine, and is now mixed hardwood, with many trees being enormous and old (they were not harvested after pine was logged, and fire was managed). Hence, the bird species typically attracted to "old growth" areas can be found in this park, such as the cerulean warbler.

My typically-not-seen-in-my-neighborhood bird list there includes veery, woodthrush, Northern Saw-whet owl, whip-poor-will, rose-breasted grosbeak, loon, sandhill crane, barred owl (although a juvenile has been calling in my backyard lately!), trumpeter swan pair with signets, many warbler spp, and a highlight - the secretive sora! Wildlife list includes regular sightings of black bear (although not nuisance in the park), badger (with a den on the shores of the lake), red fox, coyote (by call only), deer everywhere, and lots of snapping and painted turtles. One night while I was finishing up fishing, the loons started the loud alarm call - you know the one that starts low then a crescendo into an undulating howl that echos like a cannonball across the water - along with simultaneous crane calls and the magical trumpet-sound of the swans. It was quite the trifecta.

When I spoke to a park employee last summer while he was mowing grass, he told me that if park usage did not start to increase, the state would consider developing it through increased signage, potable water and potentially drive-in sites. They did place the park on the state-wide reservation system for the first time this year, but even so, I have never been skunked out of finding an open site. And if I was, there are dispersed camping options not far away. It occupies a beautiful, peaceful, rare place in the WI state park system, so I hope this post will encourage you to check it out and enjoy it as much as I do. It's a very special place.

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08/18/2019 07:46PM  
Thank you so much! I was not aware of this and am always looking for such things.
distinguished member(2880)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/07/2019 04:51PM  
Looking for these kinds of camping opportunities too. thanks for posting.
distinguished member (152)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/08/2019 10:38AM  
I stayed there a couple of weekends ago for a quick overnight trip. I was the only one staying in the park--it was a Sunday though.

Great place. However, a significant number of large trees were blown down during a severe weather incident. It was disappointing to see so many large old trees destroyed. Due to the number of trees blown down, many of the campsites now have less than optimal tent pads.

This will not keep me from coming back, it is still a wonderful, scenic and peaceful park.

I was planning on staying there on Friday and Saturday this weekend, but the weather has me second guessing that plan.

I'd shy away from site 4, it is the closest to the parking lot. I think it attracts the lazier crowd. I picked up a bunch of cigarette butts and some garbage. I stayed at another site. I checked out every other site and 4 was the only one with any signs of overuse/abuse.

Firewood won't be an issue. Plenty of dead and down wood after the severe weather event. I believe the information pamphlet states that you are allowed to burn dead and down wood at this park.

distinguished member(2880)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/09/2019 04:54AM  
Thanks, Matt. Checked out campground layout map and was drawn to #10 -- furthest out from parking lot. I had a suspicion #4 would be like that. :) Kinda sad about those downed trees, tho. The absence of trees can make or break a tent site as I prefer the tree cover / heavily forested areas.
distinguished member (152)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/09/2019 11:25AM  
Site 10 is nice, but a large tree that fell makes it a bit confined. I think site 8 is my favorite, it is nice and elevated. Super short hike to the canoe launch from site 8.
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