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02/10/2020 06:44PM
There have been a couple recent threads about best campsites, and am well aware of trippers reluctance to share.

However, I thought this community might want to share campsites to avoid if at all possible.

One that comes to mind for me, and gets my vote, is site #457 on Seagull Lake, on Three Mile Island.

We had concerns about a storm front coming in a couple years ago, so our second last day we paddled to this site to stay one night before our exit, so we'd have a leisurely paddle back to our exit point, Seagull Outfitters, the next day. (we had to be back on the road by 12:00 noon the next day after paddling out)

Most of this site was OK,,,the tent pads were average, it had spots to hang hammocks, fire pit was OK, and there was one decent spot to fish from shore, though the site was located right at a narrow point between Three Mile Island and the mainland, and we saw a fair amount of trippers paddling by, also a fair amount of motorboats the evening we stayed here.

However, the killer on this site was the trip to the thunderbox. We looked, looked, looked some more, and after finally locating it, I believe the only way to access it was to climb about a 10 foot rock wall with about a 75 degree incline in the back of camp that accessed the path to the latrine. There is no way a person with limited agility, elderly, etc., is making that trip. I was concerned about my 12 and 15 years olds making that trip, and they climb like monkeys. The 3 of us, with time to kill, spent about 45 minutes looking for an alternate route, any signs of a path we might have missed, etc., and there were none.

Any other stories about your worst campsites?

 
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02/10/2020 08:10PM
The site on the south shore of Mesaba immediately comes to mind, just a very small grassy bowl shaped site with nowhere to set up anything. The first 2 on the south shore east of the portage as you enter Vera from Ensign are also ones I would paddle past under every circumstance.
cyclones30
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02/10/2020 09:05PM
Site 1059 on Malberg, we didn't stop but fished right up along it. It's the one in the NE arm closest to the portage. It looks like a big tree went down right in camp and that was the only tree in camp. It blocks the landing and some of the main camp areas. Very overgrown.

Runners up would be site 1039 just NW of there not too far. Slightly better but still small and overgrown in general. We stopped here for lunch on a day trip.

Also site 18 on LLC east of Snow Bay. Small and overgrown, stopped for lunch on a day trip.
02/11/2020 09:04AM
#530 on Little Sag. I thought I'd seen, and stayed, in some bad sites over the years. Then I saw this one last year. No redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Tomcat
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02/11/2020 10:13AM
The overgrown northern most campsite #1886 on Thunder Lake.
treehorn
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02/11/2020 10:56AM
The only site on Misquah Lake. Just small, littered with wood chippings and discarded sticks and debris, set back from the lake, and closed in by lots of trees and shubbery that I can only imagine are teeming with ticks and mosquitoes. Although it did have a sort of eerie feel to it that I can't describe...maybe if you want to freak yourself out, stay here on a solo and see what happens.

One more...site 1543 on Basswood river, south of Wheelbarrow Falls. Just tiny, no elevation, no structure, etc. We actually saw a group of 9 paddle to this site...I'm certain they wanted to stop for the night, but there's no way they could have made it work. They moved on.
2NDpaddlers
member (50)member
 
02/11/2020 11:46AM
Site 589 on Kiskadinna is the worst site I have come across. My wife and I had lunch at this site, and felt lucky we were moving on. Tough sloping rock landing, very small and overgrown. Rating of only 1 star. Guessing this site is only a last resort site. I don't think it gets many overnight visitors. For a quick lunch stop it served us well, but wouldn't want to call it home for the night.
Bulldogge62
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02/11/2020 08:38PM
The “rock” on Cap lake. Would not want to weather a storm there
TuscaroraBorealis
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02/11/2020 09:41PM
Bulldogge62: "The “rock” on Cap lake. Would not want to weather a storm there"
tcoeguy
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02/12/2020 10:04AM
2058 on Vista is by far the worst I ever stayed at. With only 3 campsites on the lake and the other 2 much nicer ones taken, we were forced to stay on the northern site. The site is located at the end of a long piece of backwater that doesn't get above 2 feet deep. So it's a long paddle to get to anywhere resembling decent fishing. But the worst part was the site itself. Zero tent pads. Not even close. If you didn't bring a cot (which we never do) you're sleeping on sharp rocks that jut several inches off the ground. The only redeeming quality of the site is the lake itself (once you paddle through the backwater to it) is great and has excellent walleye fishing.
canoe212
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02/12/2020 10:08AM
djwillco: "#530 on Little Sag. I thought I'd seen, and stayed, in some bad sites over the years. Then I saw this one last year. No redeeming qualities whatsoever."

Seconded.
TuscaroraBorealis
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02/12/2020 10:27AM
Banadad island site #580

Boulder lake site #975

Kiskadinna site #589







River lake site #1806

Schlamm lake site #280

Tuscarora lake site #522







Virgin lake

Trygg lake
Tomcat
distinguished member (463)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/12/2020 11:09AM
TuscaroraBorealis: " Banadad island site #580


Boulder lake site #975


Kiskadinna site #589







River lake site #1806


Schlamm lake site #280


Tuscarora lake site #522








Virgin lake


Trygg lake"


WOW ! you get around.

Any port in a storm but I have only encountered one truly horrible campsite. I wish I had photos but I looked it over and didn't stay long. I don't understand why the forest service would pick or not remove or relocate. No way to Leave-No-Trace, It would take machetes and a brushhog to make it usable.
gymcoachdon
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02/12/2020 11:09AM
The worst site I have stayed on was #1836 on Iron Lake. It is in a shallow weed filled bay in the southwest corner of the lake. It did have a decent pad, an ok firepit area, and worked for an overnight solo, but it was a pain to paddle so far to get decent water to filter. (also, no fishing from camp) My recollection was that there was no where to set up a tarp or a second tent, and I squeezed my 2 man tent in with little room to spare.
arm2008
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02/12/2020 11:10AM
These all sound better than this ugly hospital room I'm sitting in with mom (happily looks like we'll head home Friday). And most of them sound better than being at work with no windows or outside air!

The worst campsites don't even compare!
RetiredDave
distinguished member (294)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/12/2020 11:46AM
tcoeguy: "2058 on Vista is by far the worst I ever stayed at. With only 3 campsites on the lake and the other 2 much nicer ones taken, we were forced to stay on the northern site. The site is located at the end of a long piece of backwater that doesn't get above 2 feet deep. So it's a long paddle to get to anywhere resembling decent fishing. But the worst part was the site itself. Zero tent pads. Not even close. If you didn't bring a cot (which we never do) you're sleeping on sharp rocks that jut several inches off the ground. The only redeeming quality of the site is the lake itself (once you paddle through the backwater to it) is great and has excellent walleye fishing. "h

When I saw this thread, #2058 on Vista was the one that immediately came to mind. Everything that tcoeguy says is true. I was there this past September on a solo trip (couldn't get the either of the other two sites on Vista). I almost turned back around when I saw the site, but it was getting late. The site gave me the heeby-jeebs right off the bat, it's small, closed-in, located in a shallow, swampy area, and far off the beaten path (which I normally love on solos). There is no flat area at all, everything is rocky and hilly.
RetiredDave
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02/12/2020 11:54AM
Oops, sent too soon. I wanted to add two photos of the site. One is looking south toward the main body of the lake. The other is one of the site.

Dave
TominMpls
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02/12/2020 01:24PM
For worst site in the BWCA, I submit site 612 - the southeast site on Rush Lake on the chain between Poplar and Long Island. I quote my description in the trip report I wrote last summer:

myself: "M jumped out of the canoe at 612 pretty confident we'd stay there, but she came back to the canoe about two minutes later and said we should find a different site. I've literally never heard her declare a site not good enough for out little two-person tent so I was surprised but figured she had to be overreacting - we've stayed at plenty of mediocre sites that met our needs just fine. So I had her hold the canoe while I took a look, and I can say 612 may be in the running to be the most miserable site in the whole BWCA. The fire grate is perched on a tiny rock outcropping that isn't even flat enough to properly hold the grate, which is attached in three places instead of four; there's a tiny sideways-leaning quasi-cleared spot on the same rock outcropping that *might*, in an emergency, kind of hold a freestanding single-person tent precariously. There's scrub bushes everywhere but nothing over four feet tall. No issue, I figured, there's often a crappy common area at sites that have tent spots tucked back in the woods, so I headed back the latrail. I'd gone less than fifty feet back when I came across the latrine leaning sideways and exposed in a crack between a couple rocks, completely surrounded by more scrub bushes and a couple dead tree trunks. There were no tent spots whatsoever, and no trail leading anywhere beyond the latrine. An impressively miserable site. So we decided to pass."
02/13/2020 07:27AM
tcoeguy: "2058 on Vista is by far the worst I ever stayed at. With only 3 campsites on the lake and the other 2 much nicer ones taken, we were forced to stay on the northern site. The site is located at the end of a long piece of backwater that doesn't get above 2 feet deep. So it's a long paddle to get to anywhere resembling decent fishing. But the worst part was the site itself. Zero tent pads. Not even close. If you didn't bring a cot (which we never do) you're sleeping on sharp rocks that jut several inches off the ground. The only redeeming quality of the site is the lake itself (once you paddle through the backwater to it) is great and has excellent walleye fishing. "

Couldn't agree more! That Vista site was forged by Lucifer himself...
joeandali
senior member (62)senior membersenior member
 
02/13/2020 09:59AM
I am not too picky about campsites. My groups are usually small and we usually only stay one night. However, we stopped at site 1085 on Gun lake to take a break from paddling in the wind. The landing was small with almost no shore line. There was an open area for tents but is sloped toward the lake. The site was so wet if felt like walking on a sponge. I saw no good qualities in the site.
bombinbrian
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02/13/2020 10:49AM
I hated the one just west of Devil's Cascade on Upper Pawness, absolutely horrible in my opinion. Glad I have a lot more good memories of campsites than bad ones.
MikeinMpls
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02/13/2020 12:38PM
Omega Lake has one gorgeous site, perched high over the water, with great expansive views to the east and west. Omega also has another site, tucked into a corner, that is so small I doubt my solo tent could fit in. Nothing level. It also has a long uphill walk to the latrine.

Mike
HowardSprague
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02/13/2020 02:33PM
Well, it’s been awhile - 12+ years, so maybe it’s changed, but methinks Boulder 975 is gettin’ a bad rap here. I remember it being very average and smallish, but not so bad for tent pads and super easy landing. Not so great for shore fishing maybe, since so shallow,.. but a downright luxurious site if compared to the lone site on Hassell!
TuscaroraBorealis
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02/13/2020 02:39PM
MikeinMpls: "Omega Lake has one gorgeous site, perched high over the water, with great expansive views to the east and west. Omega also has another site, tucked into a corner, that is so small I doubt my solo tent could fit in. Nothing level. It also has a long uphill walk to the latrine.


Mike"


Are you related to TominMpls??? (Who also commented in this thread) :)
02/13/2020 04:42PM
To lazy to look up the number, but there is a site on Thomas that is rarely used. Got there late evening one time and had to use it.was a low lying swampy area full of mosquitoes, no tent pads, tall weeds, just horrific.
TominMpls
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02/13/2020 05:07PM
TuscaroraBorealis: "Are you related to TominMpls??? (Who also commented in this thread) :)"
Nope, there are many inMplses in this world :)
lindylair
distinguished member(2349)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/13/2020 07:06PM
Agree about the narrows site on Vista, it is by far the worst site I have ever stayed in. I may have seen equally bad sites, or possibly even worse but I had the wisdom to not even go in and check them out. In this case we headed in through Morgan Lake, 24 years ago. on October 1st!! Who would have thought that both sites on Vista would be taken? Luckily we were able to get the southern site the next morning for our planned 5 day stay, which unfortunately turned out to be 3 straight days of 50 and rain(but that's another story)

Some bad sites have several bad features but maybe a redeeming quality or two - this site has none (other than perhaps solitude)
TreeBear
member (42)member
 
02/22/2020 10:33PM
As others have said, I would gladly take any BWCA campsite to an office any day. There are definitely some though that I remember for less than pleasant reasons. According to my pp account, I have given “1 star” reviews (the lowest I’ll give for a site that is still active) to 10 sites out of the 130 or so I have visited. So I guess that means I have a not top 10 list? I don’t mean to be harsh to any of these, but I do have sites that I wouldn’t stay at if at all possible.

10. Maxine: Just because it really is in the middle of nowhere and never gets used (and it has a wooden thunderbox to boot), but I actually love the lake. Not sure it has ever been camped at though.
9. Meat: Not a bad site. I actually like the Red Pine stand. However, this site was small for me as a solo and the beaver dam broke leaving a bathtub ring around the outside. Really horrendous water quality. That said, I do like the quiet of that part of the BWCA.
8. Adams: Again, I love the area. The southern site of the two next to the Smite portage is quite the place. Trees blown over, ironically no airflow, and one of the few sites I actually couldn’t find a tent pad at. I was just visiting out of curiosity, but staying here would be very desperate.
7. Insula: The very first South-Bound site on Insula from Hudson is your standard really burnt-out site. Combine that with high traffic and it isn’t that appealing.
6. Portage: Eastern site. Has anyone actually ever used it? You can’t see it from the water, and it is all but consumed by the underbrush. Again, I would only use in desperation. My group of tired 11-12 year olds took the 200 to Vera at 5:30 at night instead of staying on Portage if that says anything.
5. Trapline: I love the place, but between rather poor water quality, zero tent pads, and quite the climb to the biff, this site poses a challenge. Also, one must consider that there are awesome sites in all of the adjacent lakes.
4. Skindance: Both sites are terrible, but I was only able to find one (the fire swallowed the other.) The one I did find is practically a jungle now. Again, perhaps it is a site for desperate times, but it’s not great.
3. Hudson: The Westernmost site on the main body of the lake (not the north or west arms.) This site burned really hot, but it also has the designation as one of the saddest camp kitchens I have yet encountered (well, when the grate is intact and at the site that is.) The grate was within 3 ft of the waterline with a nice little slope behind it leading to the “tentpad.”
2. Hudson: Third site from the West in the Western bay from Four. The grate is all but invisible from the water now. Post-fire regrowth is doing its thing.
1. Snowbank: The tiny island site in the north half of Snowbank. There is a site this little island. It is always wind swept and often difficult to get to. A storm in 2016 leveled the place and the forest service cut one tent pad out of the aspen. No landing spots, almost non-existant kitchen, one tent pad, and an entry point lake. I am glad we only visited. The upside is actually nice water quality, but you may draw blood bushwhacking down to the water from your tent pad.
MikeinMpls
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02/23/2020 06:35PM
TuscaroraBorealis: "MikeinMpls: "Omega Lake has one gorgeous site, perched high over the water, with great expansive views to the east and west. Omega also has another site, tucked into a corner, that is so small I doubt my solo tent could fit in. Nothing level. It also has a long uphill walk to the latrine.



Mike"



Are you related to TominMpls??? (Who also commented in this thread) :)"


Nope.

Mike
hiawatha
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03/02/2020 06:19PM

campsite 1059 Malberg
I stayed here on a solo trip as a last resort late one day. I was sitting by a small fire that evening, the ground was crawling with ticks. That was the best experience of the whole evening. definitely a -1 rating
mschi772
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03/02/2020 07:07PM
I know this will be a controversial position, but I've given it quite a bit of thought. While some "bad" sites are kind of impossible to improve, many aren't, and I would be nice to see them improved. Now the reason I know this is controversial is that many people believe sites should be left alone to preserve their individual natures--a Leave No Trace sentiment that I respect.

The reason I've come to wish some could be improved--made more attractive and useful to campers--despite my avid LNT principles is because, if we want to maintain the number of sites in the park in order to preserve the balance of accessible options and dispersal of visitors, we have three options.

1--Leave the "bad" sites as they are, and people will avoid them unless they're a last resort and their activity will be focused on the better sites a majority of the time leading to increased competition between visitors for the desirable sites and increased traffic and stress in those areas.

2--Abandon the "bad" sites. This leads to either creating new sites to replace them elsewhere, adding whole new areas of traffic and stress to the wilderness which is not desirable or not replacing them which just lowers the number of options visitors have, creating an even worse version of the problem created by leaving the "bad" sites alone.

3--Solve any solvable issues that "bad" sites have that can make them more useful and appealing. This would lead to more acceptable and desirable site choices which would lead to more even dispersal of the traffic and stresses among all of the established sites in the park. Having more good options is just plain good for us as visitors as well.

Some sites are just never going to be very great or will never be good for larger groups. Some sites may have certain seasons where they suffer due to their local circumstances, but I've seen some undesirable sites that could benefit tremendously from just a little clearing, maybe the dicing-up of particularly disruptive fallen trees, and maybe a relocation of the fire grate. I'm pushing even my own limits with this one, but even a little rearrangement of shoreline features (rocks, deadfalls) at the landings could go a long way toward improving some sites. I'm not envisioning felling a ton of trees and terraforming sites, but I don't think it would be so bad to give some rough sites a little massage if it meant turning them into acceptable options for visitors instead of being the last-resort rejects that they are now.

I know it's a fine line between "tweaking" a site and overdoing it into excessive development and grooming, but that's why I don't dare do it myself. I want to believe there must be locals and USFS personnel especially whose judgement would be very good. Maybe the status quo is the result of exactly that judgement and my view is just more extreme than they'd like. I guess it's mostly just a thought experiment I chew on occasionally. I just hate to see sites that are the opposite of those heavily coveted sites--the ones everyone agrees are poop and should be avoided if you can.
oth
Guest Paddler
 
03/02/2020 09:49PM
gymcoachdon: "The worst site I have stayed on was #1836 on Iron Lake. It is in a shallow weed filled bay in the southwest corner of the lake. It did have a decent pad, an ok firepit area, and worked for an overnight solo, but it was a pain to paddle so far to get decent water to filter. (also, no fishing from camp) My recollection was that there was no where to set up a tarp or a second tent, and I squeezed my 2 man tent in with little room to spare."

+1 in my book. One of the least dsirable on iron.
TRibz
Guest Paddler
 
03/03/2020 12:10AM
Word.
MarshallPrime
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03/03/2020 02:08PM
Yes, I agree with an earlier post (although I hope you get to take your mom home soon) that I would take any of those sites (the burned one looks really rough though) vs sitting here with snow on the ground at work.
Most of them look/sound so beautiful right now. That is why I try not to get to down when things dont go well on a BWCAW /Q trip because you have to remember where you are.

That being said, yes, there are some rough sites out there and I have had to stay at a couple over the years. Usually, we plan well enough ahead that we get to camp early enough and we get a couple choices. Sometime though, the wind/rain/late departure get in the way and slow us down. Ive seen some real rough or over grown sites ( or perhaps burned and right out in the open) that we have skipped.

ah, I do love paddling up to a new site and checking it out for the first time. Its a fun few minutes. I also love getting back to a site ive stayed at b4 and it feels a little like going home.
03/06/2020 11:50AM
Good Topic! I have a few that I will share.

Site #1802 on Lake Agnes: Just okay as far as tent pads go. Bad for canoeing up to due to the rocky shore, especially on a windy day. The worst part is that the entire site is just COVERED with carvings; almost every tree and log has someones initials or some such thing carved into it.

Site #135 on Twentyseven Island on LLC: Stopped there for lunch a few years ago. Very small site with only enough room for maybe 2 tents. It was obvious no one had stayed at the site for at least that year. Though based on the overgrowth, it may have been longer.

Site #395 on Big Sag: Just a rocky mess of a site. So many large rocks that it was a challenge just to walk around let alone set up a tent. Also, it is set into the woods away from the water just enough for the skeets to turn you into a buffet at sundown.
HowardSprague
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03/06/2020 07:01PM
It was more than 10 years ago but we stopped for lunch on the west shore site of Beartrack. (right bogwalker , Portagekeeper?) Deadfall everywhere. There was literally not one spot where you could’ve pitched a tent. Had to climb over a bunch of stuff just to make your way to the latrine.
That said, the view was spectacular. IF they’ve cleaned it up since that time, then it might just be a great site now. No idea, I haven’t been back there yet.
shock
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03/17/2020 05:03AM
i cant imagine any campsite being worse than #800 on jasper. it was difficult just getting to shore with all the down debris along the shoreline, and the site itself was completely wide open and baron. both a result from the fire. i had commented on the map , nature needs to take this one over. #799 & 797 are a little better but not much as jasper was hit very hard by the fire, but it's coming back.
#445 on seagull , island at the end of 3-mile. only good for stopping if the wind wont let you cross. extremely sloped.
and #466 on seagull did have a big tent bad , but in a low area if it rained . small fire grate area and the shoreline facing the lake very rocky and would have been very difficult to walk around and fish also felt it could be extremely buggy with tree shadows and stagnant water areas.
pic of #799
wanderingfromkansas
member (26)member
 
03/24/2020 03:52PM
Winchell Lake #757, not from personal experience, but from the review and pictures offered by Clearwater Outfitters. #11 by their numbering.

Winchell Lake Reviews
 
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