BWCA Directions to Big Island Lake wilderness Boundary Waters Group Forum: Other Canoe Camping Locations
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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: Other Canoe Camping Locations
      Directions to Big Island Lake wilderness     



distinguished member (205)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/21/2020 01:47PM  
I will be heading there in a few weeks, can anyone provide me some driving directions? I will be heading from the Chicagoland area. I tried to look on the map and I called the forest service but the directions were a little confusing

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07/21/2020 04:22PM  
Pick up Hwy 2 in Escanaba and head north and east. About 30 minutes out of Escanaba, turn north on FR13. Travel north past two intersections (Hwy 442 and Hwy 440) about twenty miles and continue north to Hwy 445. Turn right (east) on Hwy 445 about 4-5 miles to parking area for Big Island Lake Wilderness.

There is a back way in from the "town" of Steuben. Take the snowmobile trail north from just east of town and go a few miles. There is a little parking area in the woods and an easy portage into Byers Lake. The next lake, Twilight, has trout and a nice camp site. Actually, all the sites I've seen in BILW are nice.
04/09/2021 02:31PM  
Hey Bobber... I've been looking at the map for BILW and have been trying to figure out how one gets to the parking lot to portage into Byers Lake. It looks to me like it's a ATV/snowmobile trail. Are you saying that is drivable?

I also see a parking area on the west side straight west of Twilight Lake. The portage trail looks to be over a mile long. There's also a trail that leads to Neds Lake, but it doesn't appear that there are any portage trails out of there.

What else can you share about this wilderness area? I'm about 3-1/2 to 4 hours away. Definitely a doable weekend trip. Any fishing info?
04/13/2021 11:45PM  
Jackfish. I canoe BILW quite a bit. The trail to get to the Byers lake parking area is definitely drivable. If I'm not mistaken, it's good enough to drive a car back there with care. It's called the Haywire grade trail and is mainly used by UTV'ers.

The entrance would be just east of the little town of Steuben off State road 437. The parking lot for the portage to Byers lake has space for about 2-3 vehicles with space for a couple more where the creek crosses the Haywire grade about 50 yards down the road. Not sure what it's like now as I went through two years ago, but I was able to paddle that creek with just a couple beaver dam liftovers into Vance lake or a short bushwack to get to the portage between Vance and Klondike (the nicest lake in the area, in my opinion). I think that is really going to depend on water levels and beaver activity though. Really nice paddle though if you can make it work.

Yes, there are trails going into Neds and Twilight lake of off county rd 2254 with the Twilight trail leading to the other portage trails, but those are used mostly by hikers. Good bass on Vance and Klondike lakes. Special fishing regs, though, so hard to get keepers. Neds and Twilight are stocked for trout but can be busy in the spring with dayfishing.

Most people camp on the namesake lake and Townline so if you get past those you don't run into too many people. McInnes and Klondike are rally nice sites. Don't be discouraged if you go there and see a full lot as most are day trippers, although it was busier last year just like everywhere else. Not sure if you watch YouTube or not, but I have a few videos of the area on my channel. Here is the link. It's a neat little area off the beaten path that's worth a paddle if you're that close.

Big Island lake videos
04/14/2021 03:47AM  
Also, you're allowed to disperse camp anywhere as long as you're 200' from a lake or trail, but only allowed to have campfires in approved USFS fire rings.
04/14/2021 08:46AM  
Thanks for the info, dschult2. It would be a nice drive from the Green Bay/Appleton area. Hope to check it out someday.
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