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      Trying to decide on our route out of Ely- Seeking your input     
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member (12)member
10/21/2019 11:45AM
Good afternoon,

We have been scouring this board for a good route out of Ely in mid-June. The one our outfitter suggested (Bald Eagle-Gull-Phosphor-Pietro-Turtle-Gabbro) sounds like great fishing, but looks like it will not be the most scenic. I'd love your input on a scenic 5 day route for a group of 2 or 4 (2 have not given hard commitments). Most of what I've looked at has been around the Kawishiwi Triangle but we are open to other routes, we just don't know where to start. Here are the two or three that I've been able to find that sound interesting, have decent fishing, but on the downside have some hefty portages and seem to be a bit crowded. Wouldn't mind having the option to stay an extra night if we find a good campsite, but otherwise looking to move most days. We'd love to be away from people, but crowded by BWCA definition doesn't seem too terrible. We just don't want to have to fight for campsites every day.

Option 1:
EP 30, down the Kawishiwi River (optional trip into Lake One-- not sure if we'd have time), take the North fork, into Clear Lake, to South Kawishiwi headed back northeast to exit at EP 30.

Option 2:
EP 30, down the Kawishiwi through Clear Lake, and then to the Southwest to exit at EP 32 or 33.

Option 3:
EP 30, down Kawishiwi, take the south fork heading toward Little Gabbro. Not sure if we'd have time to get all the way to EP 84 or if that is a little too lofty for us in 5 days.

Thanks in advance for your input!

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10/21/2019 04:26PM
I plotted a EP32 loop once, basically doing the Kawishiwi Triangle. It was 20 miles. Some people will do that in a day.... I think entering 32 and out 84 would be feasible. There aren't a ton of portages, looks like maybe 8 in total with the longest being on your last day.

Lake 1 area and the triangle aren't really low traffic areas though.

What kind of scenery are you going for?
distinguished member(2542)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/21/2019 05:26PM
my suggestion edges you slightly further eastward, away from Ely.
EP 38 Sawbill Lake/Campground (fees & hot showers) or EP39 Baker Lake/small primitive Campground (no fee). Scenic. Fishing good. Both entry points offer you the opportunity to do Sawbill Loop route -- counterclockwise. No waterfalls or pictos but has good fishing perks. Cherokee is a scenic lake studded with islands on the southern end. I've done it 3 times. (in/out backtracking the same lakes/portages, clockwise, counterclockwise.)
Good chance at moose sightings on Jack Lake.
Being set on Ely, do consider for a future route. Worth it!
member (12)member
10/21/2019 06:05PM
We are staying at Voyageur North and outfitting thru them. That’s why we are going out of Ely.
For scenery we’re just looking for nice big trees, maybe some cliffs, waterfalls, etc. Anything we wouldn’t see in our flat, boring, midwestern area.

Thanks again for your input guys, I really appreciate it!
10/21/2019 06:21PM
You could try for Little Indian Souix North. There is Devils Cascade. We went over to Shell/Lynx etc, and then swung back to look at the Cascade/clifs. This might meet your interests...
distinguished member (479)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/22/2019 08:05AM
I'm partial to the mudro entry point. If you can make it past fourtown/horse lake then even in June you shouldn't have too much trouble getting a site each nite.

Shoot for crooked lake, you've got the basswood falls complex to the east, and curtain falls to the west.

mudro is one of the closer entry points from Ely.
member (12)member
10/22/2019 08:57AM
Crooked lake is a ways up there. Is that a do-able (and enjoyable) trip to get there and back in 5 days??
distinguished member (465)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/22/2019 09:31AM
I very much enjoyed a trip starting at Entry Point # 16, Moose River North, and on up to Lac La Croix. If you can find a copy of Sigurd Olson's The Singing Wilderness there is a nice chapter (essay) called the Loons of Lac La Croix that describes the route way better than I can.
10/22/2019 11:13AM
LostInREI: "Crooked lake is a ways up there. Is that a do-able (and enjoyable) trip to get there and back in 5 days??"


Get an early start and head towards the Horse River.
We were north of the falls and camped on Basswood River right about 1pm.
My son and I 1.5x portaging and also our first trip into BWCA.

Even if nothing is open close to LBF it's a short trip up into Crooked Lake.

We went in at Moose River north this year and up into LLC. It was nice but busy.

I loved Crooked so much I want to get back up there in 2020.

Do yourself a favor and do not count on getting a site on Fourtown on the way out if you choose to do the loop.

You can find my trip report under my name on the side.

Good Luck
10/22/2019 11:34AM
I would have suggested Mudro also, was through in September 2011. You could go to Horse and do LBF as a daytrip, or if you want to move campsites daily there's no reason why you couldn't do the loop up to Crooked and back down the Papoose Creek to Gun, Fairy, Boot.

Then you'll not only get lower basswood falls, but also the pictos right after, plus table rock. Some good pieces of voyageur history.
distinguished member (113)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/24/2019 11:59AM
MN_Lindsey: "You could try for Little Indian Sioux North. There is Devils Cascade. We went over to Shell/Lynx etc, and then swung back to look at the Cascade/cliffs. This might meet your interests..."


Great scenery off of Lynx as well. Agawato Lake levels rise and fall with beaver dams dictating water flow, leaving some really beautiful views both at high and low water marks. Good fishing opportunities can also exist if the right environmental things are happening (weather, water temp, bait-fish spawning runs, etc.). Caught a 32.25" Walleye on Little Shell on one trip.
distinguished member(2294)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/24/2019 07:43PM
Mudro entry was previously is one of the most popular entry points ...for a reason. There are several trip options from there but I believe that a majority head east through Horse Lake and up to LBF. My suggestion would be to head west from Fourtown and through Boot, Fairy, Gun, Gull, Thunder, Beartrap - then you have to backtrack to Gun and over to Moosecamp. Down the Moosecamp River and a last night on Fourtown for a fairly easy exit. You are going at a time that is not yet peak so if you get early starts and start looking for camp early afternoon you should be fine.

This route offers beautiful lakes, good fishing, moderate portages and better than average campsites.

Boot lake is a sleeper walleye lake, maybe not for numbers but there are some big walleyes there.
Fairy is a cool little lake, I loved it. There are two campsites there but I doubt they are often both occupied. The eastern campsite is awesome and the fishing is good, including panfish. I did not get to stay there, it is on my bucket list.
Gun Lake - Crossing over the portage to Gun as I got to the landing I immediately noticed a huge difference in water clarity, Gun Lake has incredibly clear water. There are some great campsites there.
Gull lake, another good fishing lake and an incredible peninsula campsite if it is available and fits your schedule.
Thunder Lake is remote and beautiful. A few campsites to choose from. The DNR walleye census numbers for Thunder are off the charts.
Beartrap lake is a nice lake and there is a 5 star campsite there with an island right in front of it. You won't know if it is available unless you paddle in a bit but if it is you will be the only ones on a remote beautiful lake with good walleye fishing.

At this point you will want to backtrack to Gun lake and go down the barrel of the gun to the east and head to Moosecamp lake. Another pretty remote lake with good fishing and a few nice campsites. The next day you will head down the Moosecamp River for a scenic ride to Fourtown lake. There will likely be a few beaver dam pullovers, part of the fun. Spend your last night on Fourtown for an easy exit.

This route is a leisurely route that could be done in 2-3 days. Travel days won't be long and you will need to plan an extra night or basecamp somewhere along the way - that's not a bad thing, pick a site you love and just hang out, fish and relax for one day. You might just like it!

Because it is a very popular entry, even though you are going off peak, I would be ready on the first day of permit availability to go online and book it. You won't regret it.

Sunset from our Gun Lake campsite

Boot Lake Walleye

Otters along portage from Fourtown to Boot

The view from Fourtown Lake campsite - last night

View from one of the portage landings between Mudro and Fourtown

View from the 5 star campsite on Beartrap lake
member (12)member
10/25/2019 08:40AM
Thank you all for the suggestions, especially Lindylair with the detail and pics. That is the exact route we have chosen based on suggestions here, some research on this site, and some great youtube videos. We talked about trying to make it up to Crooked for a day but if we end up finding a hot fishing spot or a great campsite we will likely skip Crooked and just enjoy ourselves where we are. Anyone that's made the trek to Crooked able to tell us whether it's worth it to make that a priority?

We talked about our route a bit and I've read a few different people on here recommend doing that counter-clockwise due to the flow of Moosecamp River. Any thoughts from you all on that?

We are going through Voyageur North and doing a full outfitting with them since we are somewhat novice campers and don't have a lot of the quality camping gear they have so I believe they are also going to go for the permits for us. Lynn said he is going to aim for the permit for EP 23, but we are fine with 22 as a backup. I don't want to take a permit for 23 and not use the opportunity to camp on horse so we will likely make it a point to camp on horse if we get that permit.
10/25/2019 09:30AM
Just FYI - the reason to go that way on Moosecamp River has more to do with beaver dams than direction of current.

Edited for another senior moment. Go downstream, it'll be easier to go down beaver dams than up and over.
distinguished member(2542)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/25/2019 12:04PM
Noticeable but not a strong current on Moosecamp River. An easy relaxing paddle--which makes it favorable for a finale but no reason why you can't do counterclockwise.

P.S. Correction to a previous post I made in an earlier post of yours: I did a clockwise loop, not counterclockwise. I'm playing the 'senior moment' card on that one. ;)
distinguished member(2593)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
10/25/2019 07:56PM
Without a doubt, hwy 169 is the best route out of Ely.
member (29)member
10/25/2019 08:51PM
In regards to EP23, if you like fishing Crooked it a must. In my opinion it may be the best fishing lake in the BWCA just for the shear numbers of fish. Second would be that once you get up past Wednesday bay there just are not many people at all, most will push to Basswood falls and stop or go the opposite way and push to Gun and stop at the 1 mile portage. We spent 4 days on Crooked this August and literally only saw one canoe in 4 days and that was quite far off in the distance.
With that said at 5 days if you do this loop you will be moving more and might not get the most out of Crooked, it is a big lake. I would prefer 7 days and make it a little more leisurely.
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