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hauxe
member (5)member
 
12/08/2019 10:29AM
We're planning our first ever trip to the BWCA next July. After spending a lot of time over the last few weeks reading these boards, and using PP, we've found 3 routes of varying difficulty that interest us. I'd like to get some feedback from experienced paddlers before launching into this though.

A few words about us: we are a family of 5, the kids being 18, 16 and 14. We are in good shape, experienced with canoes, love to hike, but are pretty much newbies when it comes to camping. My two boys are quite strong and adventurous. Toughness is another matter given our lack of experience roughing it. My goal is to give us a bit of a challenge but keep it fun. Our preference is a 3 night, 4 day trip. Enough time to get a feel for the BWCA without overdoing it.

We're flying in from out of state and will be doing a fully outfitted trip. I suppose I could leave the route to the outfitter but I just like doing things myself. :)

The options I'm looking at:

Route 1.
EP 27. Snowbank. Disappointment. Ahsub. Jitterbug. Adventure. Cattyman. Jordan. Ima. Targeted overnights on Ahsub (day1), Ima or Jordan (day 2), and Disappointment (day3)
- This seems to me to be quite doable for us and has the advantage of being able to cut it short if things go badly. Downside is we see the same things going in and out.

Route 2.
EP 23. Mudro. Fourtown. Boot. Fairy. Gun. Gull. (maybe even Thunder). Gun (again). Moosecamp. Fourtown. Overnights on Fairy. Gull and Moosecamp.
- Our favorite so far. Am a bit worried about that first portage though.

Route 3.
EP 49. Poplar. Caribou. Horseshoe. Gaskin. Henson. Omega. Kiskadinna. Muskeg. Long Island. Karl. Lower George. Rib. Cross Bay. Ham. Exit at EP 50.
- Not sure about the overnights. This seems to me to be a pretty ambitious route, maybe too ambitious?

Our priorities are seeing wildlife, scenery, and avoiding crowds. Not sure if we will even have access to fishing gear so this is not high on the list.

Given our situation:

Are these realistic routes?

Would you prefer one over the other?

Thanks for the help!
 
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Blatz
distinguished member(1385)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/08/2019 11:50AM
I would for sure do #3 . I was in that area last August.Use Rockwood Outfitters, Highly recommended very pretty area. I've done #2 many times, once with small kids. The 3 back to back potage into or out of Fourteen are a bit of a pain Also available campsites at the beginning can be an issue. I did Snowbank to Disappointment a few years ago. It was ok . I didn't do the other Lakes.
scramble4a5
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12/08/2019 01:11PM
Number two is a nice area. We base-camped on Gun this year and enjoyed day trips all over the area. Fairy is a nice lake too.

Route three I personally would not do. I think, but would need to check, that the route above Gaskin is not the best. It may have been a blow down area. Gaskin itself Is very nice and I would second the suggestion of using Rockwood Outfitters.

Moving every day is not my thing. I don’t want to keep tearing down and repacking. Your mileage may vary. Whatever you decide enjoy your trip!
12/08/2019 03:11PM
I'll comment about route #1.

The schedule you suggest is pretty easy, but if you've never portaged or camped before, maybe it is realistic. It takes more time to set up and break down camp than you might expect.

The portages from Ahsub to Jordan and Ima are easy. The short portage from Jordan to Ima has a somewhat difficult landing on the Jordan side, You may be able to get all the way to Jordan/Ima on your first day, but that may be pushing it for novices.

If you want to push yourself, Thomas is a nice destination, too. The portage out of Ima has a very challenging landing on the Ima side, however.

You don't have to retrace your route exactly. You could go out (or in) through Boot Lake. Alternatively, you could go out through Ashigan and Ensign and either get a tow at the Splash Lake portage to the Moose Lake landing or paddle to the Moose Lake landing.

Disappointment has a lot of campers and through-travelers.
Northwoodsman
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12/08/2019 04:17PM
Route #3 is my choice. I did the same route in reverse back in May. Night #1 on Gaskin. It's less than 4 hours from Rockwood to Gaskin and by then you will be in your groove. Preference of campsites in order are #628, #634, #633. Set up camp and do some fishing and swimming. Night # 2 on Omega (#592) or Long Island depending on weather and your condition. The portage between Kiskadinna and Muskeg is tough, but you will be going mostly down hill heading this direction. From Muskeg to Long Island the portage difficulty will depend on water depth. The lower the water, the easier it will be. The portage doesn't have any elevation change but it is rocky with a lot of trees in the way, (it follows a creek). Once you get to Long Island it's an easy finish to the end so you can either have a layover day, or split it into two really short days and do some exploring. +1 on Rockwood!
bhouse46
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12/08/2019 05:21PM
Welcome.
Part of planning is estimating how many other people will be on the route. During peak seasons, usually mid summer but it can vary, campsites tend to get filled and stopping early is more critical. I use the BWCA site on the government reservations site the week or two before my trip to tweak plans getting a very early start if lots of folks are going in the same day or the one or two days prior. I had one trip where I had to paddle around awhile to find a site on Ima. When were you planning to trip?
Portaging is much like hiking with a canoe to carry over along with the other gear. Since you paddle and hike your travel time should approximate the 10-15 miles per day range. Planning a long day and pushing those numbers can double. Bad weather and you are stuck where you are. While not familiar with routes 2 and 3 I have done Disappointment to Ima in one day without pushing as a solo and through Ensign to Ima in tandem trips.
Not being familiar with camping do you have experience setting up a tent, etc? If not arriving the day before departure early enough to check out your gear and even have the outfitter staff help you set up the tent and go through the other gear would be a very good idea. Some tents, as you may know, are a bit of a challenge to set up and doing so miles into a wilderness with no help can really mess up a trip, especially if weather is getting dicey.
12/08/2019 05:38PM
Yes, those are all quite realistic in terms of mileage including double portaging. You should easily complete any of them, but you can cut any of them short - just turn around and go back the way you came.

I haven't done #1, but #2 and #3 are both nice routes. Mudro is probably the busiest entry in the BW. Don't worry about that first portage - it's short and downhill from the parking lot ;). Don't worry about the other ones either. :)

Lizz sees its share of traffic, but will be less crowded, I think.

I like #3 and have stayed at Rockwood's bunkhouse several times. It's nice to be right on Poplar. Horseshoe and Gaskin are nice lakes, and I like Omega too. The paddle from Long Island to Cross Bay is cool. The mileage of this route is about 3 5-hour days of travel (4 4-hour days).

Portaging is mainly about being organized - few loose items and everybody knows what to carry.

Camping - Make sure everybody knows how to use the equipment and switch up jobs every day.

Don't carry anything you're not going to use (except first aid, etc.) or eat.

Enjoy your trip!
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(615)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/08/2019 06:37PM
Regarding route #3, I think you mean EP47 so that you come in via Lizz or Swamp Lake. EP49 is into Skipper Lake and starts out with a long portage.

I like your route #3. You have options depending on weather and speed of travel. I have been on either end of that route but have not traveled all the way between them since many decades ago. But both ends are nice and pretty easy travel. We traveled from Long Island up to Snipe Lake in only 1.5 hours...the portages through there are short and easy. And the small lakes will keep you pretty sheltered if you get strong winds.

12/09/2019 01:59PM
I know you didn't ask this question, but I am going to offer an experienced old tripper's opinion anyway. You don't need to let me know what you think of it, and that is totally OK.

I think 3 nights, parts of four days, is "under-doing" it, rather than "not overdoing" it. You are coming a long way and making a lot of effort. If you can, try to schedule at least 6 days, five nights (IMHO 7-8 is better, but probably not for your first trip.)

Here is my rationale: it would be very unusual to have crappy weather (read that: rain in July) that lasts for more than a couple days. Ditto with high winds. But on a short trip you do run the risk of almost all of your time being challenged by weather. Camping out in the "wilderness" (the BWCA isn't really wilderness, but we call it so) can get very uncomfortable and less than fun if you have 3 days of rain. If those three days are your only three days, you won't love your first trip and there might not be another

Just my two cents.

I can't comment to #1 as we haven't done that.
#2 would be a nice route, hard to know how challenging for you.
#3 is one of my favorite routes in the park, but with only parts of four days, it seems like it would be a big order.

In July none of these routes will be providing much solitude. Make camp early and get on the water again early in the morning.

We loved loops, and we loved traveling every day when we were younger. As we became more experienced we took longer trips, and always planned for at least one layover day on an eight-day trip. Two were more to my liking. We didn't care for base-camping as we liked to see new scenery. But everyone has their opinion on that.

hauxe
member (5)member
 
12/09/2019 02:25PM
straighthairedcurly: "Regarding route #3, I think you mean EP47 so that you come in via Lizz or Swamp Lake. EP49 is into Skipper Lake and starts out with a long portage.
"


Correct. Thank you

boonie: "
I haven't done #1, but #2 and #3 are both nice routes. Mudro is probably the busiest entry in the BW.
Lizz sees its share of traffic, but will be less crowded, I think.


Very useful to know, thanks. I'd sort of assumed Mudro would be a quieter area which is one of the reasons I was leaning towards it. Guess that was a bad assumption!

Northwoodsman: "Route #3 is my choice. I did the same route in reverse back in May. Night #1 on Gaskin. It's less than 4 hours from Rockwood to Gaskin and by then you will be in your groove. Preference of campsites in order are #628, #634, #633.

Good to know, thanks. I was also thinking about Gaskin as a first night stop. Should I be worried about finding a campsite there? If it's 13:00 and we're still on Horseshoe for whatever reason, should I be grabbing the first thing around?

Spartan2: "
I think 3 nights, parts of four days, is "under-doing" it, rather than "not overdoing" it. You are coming a long way and making a lot of effort. If you can, try to schedule at least 6 days, five nights (IMHO 7-8 is better, but probably not for your first trip.)
"


I appreciate the advice. We might make it one day more but I don't think time constraints will allow anymore. My theory is also that we're pretty new to camping and bound to do a few things wrong, forget something, etc, so this is sort of a trial run for us. We have family up in the region and I hope to have a return visit a couple years down the road.

12/09/2019 02:51PM
permit availability study

Lizz will still be busy, just not as busy. Just playing the odds - no one can say for sure any given day. If you start out early morning, even 8:00, you'll be on Gaskin before noon.
12/09/2019 03:12PM
Have a great trip!

hauxe
member (5)member
 
12/09/2019 03:45PM
boonie: " permit availability study
Lizz will still be busy, just not as busy. Just playing the odds - no one can say for sure any given day. If you start out early morning, even 8:00, you'll be on Gaskin before noon. "


That link is useful. In which section of the site did you turn that up? I can’t find it anywhere.

Is there a mad rush to book permits when the season opens up? Should I be trying to get it done on the morning they open?
12/09/2019 07:23PM
permit availability search

I just did some kind of similar search. Schweady has done several of them and there's lots more to it than I copied.

2019 permits thread

I usually just go ahead and get mine as soon as possible. The cost to change is not prohibitive. Most outfitters can get it for you if you want or you can do it yourself. Mudro permits can go fast. Not as critical if your dates are flexible.
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1423)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/09/2019 07:49PM
I can't speak about site availability during July. My last 3 trips originated at Rockwood. They have decent bunkhouses and they can take care of all of your outfitting needs. You have a private bathroom with hot showers in your room. It's super-affordable and the team there is the best. You can push off from their shore and be at the first portage in 20 minutes. I would try to be on the water by 7:00 a.m. By utilizing a bunkhouse you can have everything packed and ready to go the night before with the exception of your sleeping bags and pillows. You could be on Gaskin by 10:00 - 11:00 am. so your chances at getting a great site should be high. The wind generally picks up throughout the day, with mornings and evenings generally the calmest. As you meet people leaving, ask them where they came from and how many sites were taken. Horseshoe is known for wildlife (Moose) but you will want to keep going to even out your travel days. That whole area is excellent Moose habitat. Also - take the long portage out of the southwest arm of Horseshoe into Gaskin, it's much easier than the other three short ones into Allen then into Horseshoe.
lindylair
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12/09/2019 08:25PM
A couple thoughts...

I agree with Spartan 2 about trying to lengthen your trip. 3 nights will go awfully quick and her points about weather are relevant too. But more importantly, it takes most people a day or two to get in the "rhythm' of the wilderness but once there it is very nice. Since you are going to so much effort in terms of time and money to go, you should maximize the opportunity. You can always cut it short if you want, there are plenty of other really cool things to do in NE Minnesota. Extending it to 5 days/4 nights even will make a big difference. It could even allow for a layover day which means no taking down camp, just relaxing and exploring which is nice, or even good fishing time(see below)

Fishing is generally good, even very good in the BWCA. If you like to fish but bringing equipment is a barrier I am willing to bet some of the BWCA.com members would be willing to set you up with some equipment if the meetup can be arranged. I would be glad to do it if we can figure out the logistics. A few rods and reels and the right stuff to catch some fish. It does mean extra expense for the licenses but if your group includes avid fisher people, it could add a lot to the trip. If its not a big deal that's ok too.

I will only comment on route 2, the others are fine though. Mudro entry is one of the busiest in the BWCa...for a reason. The good news is that many who enter the BWCA there go northwest through Horse Lake up to the Lower Basswood area - I would venture a guess at over 50%. Fourtown is also a popular basecamp lake which leaves the west and north route which is a beautiful route. Better than average campsites, good fishing and moderate portages. Fairy Lake is one of my favorites, would be a wonderful first night. Gull has an awesome peninsula campsite and good fishing. Gun has gin clear water, a little tougher to fish but a beautiful lake. Thunder is a cool lake and the walleye population there is high. Moosecamp has 3 good campsites and also good fishing. Heading down the Moosecamp River will be fun, possibly a few beaver dam pullovers but scenic and not that long. My only caution here is that it is possible that upon entering Fourtown campsites may be at a premium. Try to time your getting there with the late morning hours when folks have left for the day but the new travelers have not yet arrived. I have heard of people having to go all the way out to Mudro because there were no campsites available. Hopefully not the case for you.

There are 3 portages between Mudro and Fourtown. Two are short but they are littered with ankle breaking rocks. They are tough because of the terrain, not the length or elevation. The longer portage has a reputation as a difficult one but when we took it we were underwhelmed, wasn't that bad at all. You can be on Boot Lake from Mudro in 3-4 hours easy.

Due to its popularity, and especially if you are tied to a particular date, I would recommend getting your permit the first day they become available, and the earlier that day the better. Mudro entry is busy but because there are several options for canoeists, it is not as bad as it seems. Solitude is a relative thing. You might see 3 or 4 or even more groups canoeing by you as you travel or in camp but in the key times of the day, early morning and dusk you will feel like you have the whole place to yourselves.



hauxe
member (5)member
 
12/10/2019 10:25AM
First, a big thanks to everyone who has taken time to reply. Some of the advice here is really detailed and I appreciate it. I'll think we'll aim for an entry permit for route 2 first, unless we choose to add on an extra day, in which case I may still try for route 3.

lindylair: "Fishing is generally good, even very good in the BWCA. If you like to fish but bringing equipment is a barrier I am willing to bet some of the BWCA.com members would be willing to set you up with some equipment if the meetup can be arranged. I would be glad to do it if we can figure out the logistics.
"


I'm not sure how much fishing we would do. My experience is limited to fishing with nightcrawlers in upstate New York. Mostly for perch and bass. Lots of fun and good success but it's been a long time ago and in my experience if you don't know the lake and the fish in it and the bait you should be using, well it may not be worth it. Correct me if I'm wrong. I'd been thinking about asking the outfitter if they would rent out a pole and maybe get a license for my two boys but haven't been making it a priority. Anyone know if that's a done thing?

In terms of the routes, I like the idea of pushing off the dock on day 1, as we could do on route 3 if we went with Rockwood. A Mudro entry looks like it requires an Ely outfitter to shuttle me out there. Anyone see that as a major disadvantage?

Final question, should I just pick an entry point and an outfitter and trust them to reserve the entry permits for the given day (we're not very flexible unfortunately), or would you wait until January and reserve the permits yourself and then pick an outfitter?

My line of thinking is that an Ely outfitter may not want to run me all the way up to Poplar (my route 3) if he can't get a permit for me for Mudro.

Thanks again everyone.
MikeinMpls
distinguished member(634)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
12/10/2019 12:47PM
I know I'm late to the party here, but I've done all three, #1 at least four times, and #3 at least six.

#1 takes off at Snowbank. It's a huge lake with lots of islands, and it is easy to get lost, especially on the return. Snow bank is also known for strong winds. The paddle on Snowbank, and to a lesser extent Disappointment, covers some big water. The remainder of the trip is a mixture of lovely lakes and portages. There are pictographs in the channel between Jordan and Ima, though there are very hard to see. Some old logging artifacts on Ima. It's very easy to reach Ima from Snowbank in a couple of hours. Consider base camping on Ima and exploring. Ahsub is a very short paddle from your put in, and doesn't have the greatest campsite. Jordan has a nice campsite on a point with a big pine out front. Very nice. Ima has a lot of campsites. Behind the Jordan site you'll find old logging trash, like cable and barrel staves.

#3 is a great beginner route. But as others have said before, the portages in the vicinity of Kiskadinna are tough...lots of blowdowns and rock fields. Instead of that way, swing south from Gaskin into Winchell, then make a loop route out of it. It's a well traveled route, but quite scenic. Omega is a beautiful lake with two long arsm. Winchell is big, but the prevailing wind would be the direction you are going. The south side of Winchell has a lot of cliffs and a few small caves.

I'm less familiar with route #2, but the portages aren't that tough. Some unique scenery.

If you are camping neophytes, I'd recommend base camping. Find a nice campsite several hours in, such as Ima or Gaskin, and just set up camp. Explore the area around.

Mike
lindylair
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12/10/2019 08:14PM
hauxe,
Fishing does not need to be difficult up there. Slip bobbers with a crawler or leech work great. If you happen to be in a campsite with decent depth and structure you can often catch a lot of fish right from shore. On many lakes it could be a smallie, walleye or pike. In the canoe on a calm day slip bobbers are good too, but vertical jigging is a simple and effective to catch fish if you are in a good spot. While you are out exploring or traveling occasionally drag a Rapala or Mepps behind you and the odds are decent that you will catch something. You might find yourself catching few fish, or maybe a fair amount and there is near trophy potential up there for bass, walleyes and pike.

Not sure if outfitters have fishing equipment available, suspect some do. I also think that many of them will have the ability to get you the appropriate fishing license. But above that, they can tell you where on your route are the best lakes to fish in, and often even where to fish on individual lakes. That's what they do.

Not necessarily pushing it if you don't want to fish - even if you bring equipment but don't fish, no harm done. But if you don't bring it and want to...well you can't. If you happen to get even reasonably lucky and get into some nice fish it would add some fun and memories to your trip. I am kind of partial, can you tell? Love to fish and always do on trips although it is often much less than I anticipate. But always some. And I always catch fish. Usually some nice ones. And i am certainly not an expert.

The offer of equipment stands, I could set you up with a few rods and reels and a tackle box geared to some simple fishing tactics. You would just have to get licenses and (recommended) some live bait, leeches would be my choice, crawlers are a little harder to keep alive and hardy in summer heat. I probably have 15 rods and reels and 5 tackle boxes, I would set you up with the basics in a small lightweight package that would meet your needs.

After dinner as the sun descends in the sky and the lake is calm as glass is a great time to throw a slip bobber out from camp and see what happens, or maybe take a short canoe ride and cast a topwater lure towards down timber near shore and wait for the explosion of a smallie hitting your lure. You might be surprised at the potential. No guarantees obviously, sometimes its tough to get a bite. But on the other hand...

I live and work 10-15 minutes from MSP airport so if you are flying in there, a meetup would not be difficult.

Many don't fish up there. Plenty of other stuff to do and enjoy. Just trying to make it possible if you want to but think it's a hassle. Doesn't need to be.
12/10/2019 08:24PM
Suggest you review this info from the "Planning" tab at top of page.

Permits

You may want to get your own. FYI, the outfitters have no inside track to getting permits, they'll just get on line at the same time as everyone else - the last Wed. of January - and may or may not get the one you want.

You are correct that an Ely outfitter won't shuttle you out the Gunflint Trail - it's a long way. The cost would be prohibitive.

You can drive yourself to entry points or have the outfitter shuttle you. They can put the canoe(s) on the car for you - just ask them about it. It's an easy drive to Mudro EP and there's a large parking lot. There may or may not be a charge for a shuttle. Check the outfitters website.
hauxe
member (5)member
 
12/11/2019 01:37PM
lindylair: "
The offer of equipment stands, I could set you up with a few rods and reels and a tackle box geared to some simple fishing tactics. I live and work 10-15 minutes from MSP airport so if you are flying in there, a meetup would not be difficult.
"


Really, really generous. Thank you. I'd love to take you up on that but need a little time to think about the logistics. We are flying into Chicago, visiting family in Rheinlander WI, and then driving over to to the BWCA before eventually flying out of Minneapolis. I haven't really started planning out our drive from Wisconsin yet but a quick check on Google tells me a detour to Minneapolis will add 2 hours so it would add quite a bit to the journey.

You have convinced me though that a fishing rod would be a nice thing to have. Especially since I like grilling fish. :)

12/11/2019 03:30PM
I'd do route #3 and make a loop out of it (avoid the shuttle back). Drop down to Winchell after Gaskin, Omega, Henson, Meeds.....back to Caribou. Lots of options in the area to make loops. Book your own permit and have it sent to Rockwood. Bunk and outfit with them. Paddle out from their dock on your first morning, and paddle back in on your last day. Avoids all the funky logistics of shuttles, transferring gear, etc and just lets you concentrate on canoeing, navigating and camping. Just did this area in Sept and have done multiple various routes in other years there. Make sure to have at least one meal at the Trail Center.
Mudro can be a very busy area and Snowbank is big water to start a trip.....just my .2
12/11/2019 03:50PM
hauxe: "lindylair: "
The offer of equipment stands, I could set you up with a few rods and reels and a tackle box geared to some simple fishing tactics. I live and work 10-15 minutes from MSP airport so if you are flying in there, a meetup would not be difficult.
"


Really, really generous. Thank you. I'd love to take you up on that but need a little time to think about the logistics. We are flying into Chicago, visiting family in Rheinlander WI, and then driving over to to the BWCA before eventually flying out of Minneapolis. I haven't really started planning out our drive from Wisconsin yet but a quick check on Google tells me a detour to Minneapolis will add 2 hours so it would add quite a bit to the journey.

You have convinced me though that a fishing rod would be a nice thing to have. Especially since I like grilling fish. :)

"


I work not too far away from O'Hare, right on the route I figure you'd take to get to Rhinelander... if that helps with the logistics. I'd be happy to receive from Lindy and hand off to hauxe if your trip dates aren't in conflict with when I'll be up with the Scouts. Members helping members....

I wouldn't fear the portage from Mudro to Fourtown. It's scenic. Yes, the middle portage does have some elevation gain and loss, and yes, the landing on the Fourtown side is a sloped rock face. If the lake is down you can skip the rock face and instead walk the dry stream bed that the portage goes around but watch your step. The river bed is full of scree.

Have a great trip!
merlyn
senior member (94)senior membersenior member
 
12/11/2019 05:14PM
#3 great . Rockwood great. 7 hrs drive from Rhinelander to Grand Maris ( be sure to take the route along north shore - spectacular views) When in G.M. go to Sven and Olie's pizza.(selling?) Spend winter reading forum. Change trip to 5-6 days maybe 7.

The biggest problem with the bwca is one trip is never enough, kinda like potato chips. In no time you will be buying tents, canoes, packs, down underware and sporks." One of us-one of us"
lindylair
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12/11/2019 06:32PM
hauxe, I guess I just assumed you would be flying into MSP. A 2 hour detour is likely not worth it. However I wouldn't give up yet, a BWCA.com member might yet surface who could lend you a few old poles and some basic tackle. Or outfitters may be able to set you up.

Once you decide on a route let folks here know and see what happens. ask a few questions and you could very likely get some real good and specific fishing advice on how and where to fish on your route from some knowledgeable people, if you figure out the equipment piece. Either way, have a great trip!
jillpine
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12/11/2019 07:08PM
cowdoc: "I'd do route #3 and make a loop out of it (avoid the shuttle back). Drop down to Winchell after Gaskin, Omega, Henson, Meeds.....back to Caribou. Lots of options in the area to make loops. Book your own permit and have it sent to Rockwood. Bunk and outfit with them. Paddle out from their dock on your first morning, and paddle back in on your last day. Avoids all the funky logistics of shuttles, transferring gear, etc and just lets you concentrate on canoeing, navigating and camping. Just did this area in Sept and have done multiple various routes in other years there. Make sure to have at least one meal at the Trail Center.
Mudro can be a very busy area and Snowbank is big water to start a trip.....just my .2"


Hauxe- all great advice. Read the above from Cowdoc carefully, as it is really spot-on. Your family will have a lot to take in - scenery, the feel, the gear, the weather, and you really don't have much time, as already discussed. My advice would be to minimize hassle as much as possible and focus on the essence of the experience. For those reasons, I vote #3. Snowbank could pose some challenges in weather or first-time navigating, which I'm certain you'd overcome, but there can be a thin-line between "character building" and "trip ruining" on a first-time trip. Mudro is busy, and risks being a race for sites; that's just a flat-out buzz-kill. And Rockwood is a great place (I've only used the bunkhouse, but location and services offered are perfect for your needs), and - with your timeline - the dock entry right from your place-of-stay is going to be a real asset, one that is easily overlooked. And, as he said, Trail Center is really not to be missed, either coming or going.
Also, just a word to support the advice for quality rain gear and warm clothes (synthetic base layer, wool beanie and warm fleece with neck protection is nice in cold rains, which easily happen in July). Understand the issues of wind on big water, lightning and deadfall before you go, and you will be golden! Have a wonderful time - there is nothing like paddling lake country.

cyclones30
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12/11/2019 10:50PM
Snowbank is pretty big for a first time trip. I'd suggest route 2 or 3, and 3 would be my top choice because of what cowdoc said.
mgraber
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12/12/2019 01:26AM
I'd pick 2 or 3, they both have a lot to offer, and by all means add that day if you can, I seriously doubt you will be sorry you did. I am partial to the Mudro entry, not that it is any better, but we have used it a lot in the past to quickly access the Basswood river and the waterfalls and to get to Crooked lake. It is very popular for a reason as it is very scenic, but if people are a problem, 3 would likely be better and is still a neat route. If you are being fully outfitted you will find the camping pretty easy as they will have you properly equipped and that is most of it. Have fun and be safe, I think you will love it. One bit of advice, be sure to bring decent rain gear and some warm clothes, it can occasionally be pretty nasty even in July (lows in the 30's highs in the 40's wind and rain) although the weather is typically beautiful that time of year.
12/12/2019 03:54PM
Couple more thoughts about doing a loop out of Poplar (Lizz) as opposed to your suggested route.....you will avoid the Kisk to Muskeg portage known as "the wall". Your travels would be down hill so not as bad, but still not even a fun down hill portage. Second, I would assume you would layup on Long Island for your last night and plan for the medium to short paddle out to Cross Bay in the morning. Trouble is, everyone in that area has that plan and Long Island can become "packed" in the afternoon with everyone looking for that last night layup campsite.
Blatz
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12/13/2019 07:55AM
Another thought on shuttling. Rockwood will shuttle you to your entry like Ham Lake and you paddle back to their place. No funkiness at all. I did this trip solo last year in August. Because of different route options you can alter the trip as you go. I found going up "The Wall" wasn't too bad and I'm 60 years old. Vey pretty area
 
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