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wiroadracer
 
01/15/2021 01:00PM  
As the title suggests, I am looking for suggestions on routes for my wife's first trip to the BWCA. I have been 6 times, but always with a group of friends. It has taken a bit of cajoling to get her to agree so this needs to be reasonably
successful.

I don't want to overwhelm her, so planning on only 3-4 nights and I will be avoiding things like either of the two portages to Angleworm. I think either staying in one place or, at most, two sites is the way to go on this trip.

I have done EP77, EP19, EP16, EP14 and EP4. I think she would enjoy the river portions of EP16, but because we are not going real deep, I don't think that is a good choice because Lake Agnes is pretty popular and I would like a bit more solitude.

I am leaning towards EP 14 and staying on Shell which I have only passed through. That way we could see the Devil's Cascade. Could also stay on Heritage. The biggest downside to this route is that it is pretty remote from Ely. That isn't a problem on the front end, but it makes for a very long day coming home on the back end.

Another thought would be trying EP6 and staying on Hook, but since it only has one site and Keneu only has one, that might mean back tracking. Plus I am not sure that she will really get a feel for it since really that is a short day (not that it should be too long).

One other thought would be EP4, but catch a ride on the way there so that we avoid Burnside on the first day. I would be inclined to paddle it on the way back. We could either stay on Crab for a very short day, Little Crab for a bit longer, or push south to Battle Lake. However I don't know anything about the southern lakes or really the sites.

The last option might be EP77 so that she can see the pictographs and then move over to Little Bass.

Sorry for the long post, but I would really appreciate any suggestions.
 
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Jackfish
Moderator
 
01/15/2021 03:09PM  
I took my (now) wife on her first trip to the BW and entered at Snowbank. Snowbank is a big lake and can get choppy and tough to paddle, but we hit it on a smooth day - just light ripples - so we paddled up to Boot and started our trek toward the Jordan / Ima area. (If Snowbank is rough, there are a couple shorter paddles to hit the portage into Parent or Disappointment.)

There are a number of small lakes on the way to Ima and most of the portages are pretty short. Plus you pass by Cattyman Falls. Nice place for some photos.

Here is our trip report. If you have any questions, just ask.
Michwall2
distinguished member(1047)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/15/2021 05:59PM  
Are you stuck on the Ely side or would you consider something off the North Shore/Gunflint?

E.g. Entry 47 - Lizz Lake - Head to Horseshoe for the first night. This is moose sighting central. Second night could be on Winchell. Climb the cliffs and find the waterfall on the south shore. Circle back around to Gaskin through Ogema/Henson. Easy out the next day.

Entry 54 - Seagull Lake -
Option 1 - Head to Ogishkemuncie and base camp. Head to Eddy Falls for a day trip. (Thunder Point is spectacular but a bit aggressive for a day trip.). Head to Mueller Falls for another day trip. Back out after that.

Option 2 - Saganaga Loop - Seagull to Alpine Lake. Alpine to Red Rock Lake or Bay. Paddle out on Saganaga when you are done. Easy portages. Great scenery.

Entry 39 - Baker Lake - Head north to Jack Lake for day 1. This is a beautiful river like paddle along the Temperance River watershed. Easy portages today. Day 2 - Jack to South/North Temperance. One longer portage that has minimal ups and downs that follows the Temperance River. Day trip to Brule if the wind cooperates.

Entry 38 - Sawbill Lake - Day 1 Head to Cherokee Lake. Beautiful scenery. Lots of islands with great campsites. Many love the sites on the south end but I like the northern basin more. Day trip to Frost Lake for a chance to see moose and the beautiful golden sand beaches. Day trip over to the Temperance Lakes.

Looking for something with a little bit of everything and a little more portaging?
Entry 37 - Kawishiwi Lake (Get a shuttle from Sawbill Lake so your vehicle is waiting for you there.). Lady Lakes Chain - Kawishiwi to Polly - Nice half day paddle. Relatively flat portages. You will pass through the eastern end of the Pagami Creek Fire area but move out of that at Polly Lake. Turn back east and head to Phoebe or Grace Lake on day 2. Day 3 - You can lay over here or head out to Sawbill. The 280 from Grace to Beth is the preferred route. That's the toughest portage on the route. Some substantial ups and downs along a rather scenic route. There is a lot of river paddling on this route and that usually means a few beaver dams and lots of in and out of the canoe. It also means some fabulous wilderness scenery and experiences.

Hope you have a great trip.
lindylair
distinguished member(2466)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/15/2021 06:23PM  
racer, I would throw out the possibility of a Homer Lake entry #40. It is a lesser used entry point with 2 permits per day and there are 11 campsites within about a 4 hour paddle. One of the two campsites on Vern Lake might be Plan A as they are both nice and offer good shorefishing and daytrip options as well. A trip up the Vern River would be a great way to spend half a day or a day and it also offers very good fishing. Very scenic. There are also 3 campsites on Pipe Lake(Plan B or C) which are pretty remote but nice, and 3 more on Juno Lake(Plan B or C) which is a long, narrow and scenic lake if you choose to or need to go that far. Homer Lake itself has 3 nice campsites too, of which two are actually outside of the BWCA but you wouldn't know it.

There are a couple very short portages to get to Vern, whether you go the northern or the southern route - the southern route is prettier and a little easier. If you had to backtrack to Pipe there would be 3 more very short portages. If you went on to Juno there would be a couple more short ones from Vern - no more than 5 or 6 short portages in the worst case and the longest of any of them is 27 rods. But chances are good you will get a Vern Lake campsite anyways.

I have taken 45 plus BWCA trips and probably used at least 30 different entry points, Homer is one of the easiest entries and most rewarding for the relative quiet and good fishing. From the nice gravel put in on Homer Lake you are but a couple hours from your comfy basecamp on Vern Lake.

Here is our trip report from a July trip a few years ago:

Homer entry

Hope you have a great trip, wherever you go.
01/15/2021 06:23PM  
I'll agree with some of the above suggestions like Baker and Lizz. Also Homer. Some of the kind of out of the way entries so it's not so crowded but not super difficult either. What's your issue with a long last day out? The drive back to Ely after take-out? The drive home from the EP no matter where it's at?

If you liked 16 you could hop over to Oyster to avoid the Agnes crowds hopefully, some nice sites there and much smaller lake.

greywolf33
distinguished member (165)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/15/2021 11:12PM  
Go in at EP 64 East Bearskin, camp on Alder, Canoe, Crystal, or Pierz. Go visit Johnson Falls. This is an easy, beautiful trip with a good variety of fishing opportunities if that’s your thing. She will be delighted.
01/16/2021 07:29AM  
greywolf33: "Go in at EP 64 East Bearskin, camp on Alder, Canoe, Crystal, or Pierz. Go visit Johnson Falls. This is an easy, beautiful trip with a good variety of fishing opportunities if that’s your thing. She will be delighted."

This would be my suggestion, too. An easy route with lovely small lakes. Johnson Falls is beautiful.







Good luck to you, whatever you do. Write up a trip report for us.

(My first trip, with my husband, (1971) was challenging. He didn't really do a lot to make it easy for me, and I suspect if he had I might not have been nearly as interested in going back. To this day the idea of base-camping turns me off and the only time we took a tow I really missed the paddling. But you have to assess how she will react. You know her better than we do. I wish you well.)

01/16/2021 08:34AM  
EP 64 is a really good choice for the reasons mentioned. As you know, it is advisable to get an early start for god camp selection in most cases. With all the camp options available, you probably should leave a little later like 7 to 8 AM so that folks leaving will vacate before you get there in a couple of hours or so and start looking for a camp.

I have never felt bad about asking possible would be leaving campers if they are leaving and never had anyone give outward any negetative reaction. I never park and wait too close and not so far away that other seekers may not realize I am in line. I keep an eye out for these seekers and move in the direction of the camp if they look as if they may may bump you if you do not take this action.
roadracer
member (5)member
 
01/18/2021 10:32AM  
Thanks for the suggestion. I will check it out. I would have thought that it would have added a lot to our travel time from vs. Ely, but I see that is not the case.

Bill
roadracer
member (5)member
 
01/18/2021 11:07AM  
Thanks for the suggestions. I have looked at the EP47 route and that looks interesting. I will give that serious consideration. In all the trips so far, we have not seen a single moose so that would be amazing.
Jackfish
Moderator
 
01/18/2021 11:39AM  
Hey Roadracer... did you change your mind on a board name? If so, let us know and we'll delete one of them.
01/18/2021 11:56AM  
wiroadracer: "As the title suggests, I am looking for suggestions on routes for my wife's first trip to the BWCA...."

I thought the title suggested you were sending your wife on her first trip... then realized you were going with her.
roadracer
member (5)member
 
01/18/2021 02:44PM  
Thanks I noticed that I seem to have two of them, not sure how that happened. My preference would be wiroadracer. Thanks.
Boppasteveg
senior member (84)senior membersenior member
 
01/20/2021 06:02PM  
Here is my suggestion:

Seagull Outfitters (Gunflint) head-start launch service (Boat tow) up to Red Rock Bay.
Short 10-rod portage into Red Rock
There are seven campsites on Red Rock where you could basecamp.

You could also portage into Alpine and camp there a couple nights and then either head back to Red Rock Bat for your pick-up or paddle Alpine to Seagull.
RMinMN
distinguished member (180)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/21/2021 03:25PM  
Stupid idea I know.

Last year, after going to BWCA for about 40 years with probably more than 60 trips my wife and I (her idea) wanted an easy trip, just relaxing and she chose Lake One. What? Yes, we spent 5 days on Lake One and had a great trip. No portaging and while we saw canoes every day, only one came withing 150 yards of our campsite.
Speckled
distinguished member (149)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/22/2021 10:01AM  
Don't do what I did.

When I brought my wife on her first trip, I had already been going for a few years. I didn't plan the trip with her. I didn't set expectations or talk about what it might look like. I simply said - "Hey, you want to go the Boundary Waters with me? I've got this lake I want to go to"

"This lake I want to go to" was JAP. So a relatively short paddle and one portage. Seems easy enough. For those of you know the Seagull to JAP portage, you can already see the error in my ways. That thing is brutal, especially for a first timer.

Half way through the portage, our gear (way too much) is on the ground, she's in tears and i'm trying to figure out how to salvage this.

Long story short - we made it across, camped a few days, caught some lake trout and dreaded the return trip the entire time. I should have planned an easier "first trip" for her.
roadracer
member (5)member
 
01/22/2021 10:37AM  
Speckled: "Don't do what I did.


When I brought my wife on her first trip, I had already been going for a few years. I didn't plan the trip with her. I didn't set expectations or talk about what it might look like. I simply said - "Hey, you want to go the Boundary Waters with me? I've got this lake I want to go to"


"This lake I want to go to" was JAP. So a relatively short paddle and one portage. Seems easy enough. For those of you know the Seagull to JAP portage, you can already see the error in my ways. That thing is brutal, especially for a first timer.


Half way through the portage, our gear (way too much) is on the ground, she's in tears and i'm trying to figure out how to salvage this.


Long story short - we made it across, camped a few days, caught some lake trout and dreaded the return trip the entire time. I should have planned an easier "first trip" for her."


Good point! I am the planner of the two of us and I can easily see myself doing just that. I will try very hard to make sure that there are no unwanted surprises.

wiroadracer
MikeinMpls
distinguished member(776)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/22/2021 12:19PM  
You could also consider EP 57 Magnetic Lake, and do the Pine and Granite River route. You can bail at Larch Lake or go all the way up into Sag. This would require the shuttling of your vehicle one way if you don't get a ride. I've done this route at least a dozen times.

Also, EP 36 Hog Creek is easy-peasy...one very short portage on the creek to Perent Lake. The creek winds and meanders a bit, always out of the wind. Perent is a large lake with lots of islands and interesting rock formations. Since it's easy to get to, it can sometimes get crowded.

I think those are two good options. Email me if you'd like more detail.

Mike
bombinbrian
distinguished member (283)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/22/2021 12:31PM  
My SO's first trip was last summer. We went out of Mudro and down the Horse river, up to Crooked and back down through Gun and Fourtown. She loved it. I figured if she didn't quit on that portage out of Mudro to Sandpit, we had it whooped. Mudro would give you lots of options, Fourtown or Horse, plus day trips to other area lakes.
roadracer
member (5)member
 
01/22/2021 03:15PM  
bombinbrian: "My SO's first trip was last summer. We went out of Mudro and down the Horse river, up to Crooked and back down through Gun and Fourtown. She loved it. I figured if she didn't quit on that portage out of Mudro to Sandpit, we had it whooped. Mudro would give you lots of options, Fourtown or Horse, plus day trips to other area lakes."

I know last summer was far busier than normal, but how much solitude were you able to get there? What time of summer did you go and how many days?

Thanks for the suggestion.
bombinbrian
distinguished member (283)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/22/2021 04:19PM  
We went the last week of June/ first of July. We didn't have much at LBW Falls where we stayed for two days. We only saw one or two groups on Crooked. Gun has a great campsite, but the portage to get to Gun from the North SUCKS... If you could get to Gun from the south it would be great. Taking the portage going North to papoose from Gun would be ok as well.
bombinbrian
distinguished member (283)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/22/2021 04:24PM  
email me at 03squaredranch@gmail.com and I can send you some pics of out map
VoyageurNorth
distinguished member(2635)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/22/2021 06:57PM  
#14 Little Indian Sioux would be a nice first trip. Nice scenery, wildlife, waterfalls and portages are not bad. Some good fishing & you can basecamp if you like and take lots of day trips
mjmkjun
distinguished member(2705)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/23/2021 04:57AM  
Entry #8 Moose River (south) to Big Moose Lake and back out the same route.
01/23/2021 08:48AM  
I'll comment on your #4 option. Great area, but you may turn her off right away with the portage in from Burnside to Crab. It's not grueling, but it will test you. Once on Crab, you're golden. Easy trip up to Cummings, fairly easy to the little lakes to south. Crab to Sacca or to Clark are a little tough, mostly from the elevation change.....climbing out of Crab. The portages between those little lakes are a breeze. Battle campsite was nice....maybe lacking a summer bug breeze, Phantom campsite was decent.....maybe a little too much west breeze. Couldnt find the one on Meat. Glanced at the one on Clark from the water....looked ok. Going up to Cummings was fairly easy, site on Little Crab was taken going and coming. Korb site looked cool way up on the cliff. Lots of nice sites on Cummings. Very nice, fairly quiet area but the Crab portage is the crux. We paddled Burnside both ways and of course had a west headwind going in and a nasty quartering NE headwind coming out.....so.....yeah. I believe it was over an hour coming out, a little under going in.
01/26/2021 12:44PM  
What I choose for my Wife's first trip was Red Rock. Took a tow from Voyageurs Outfitters to get across the big water of Saganaga. . Stayed a couple of nights at Alpine before spending the last night on Seagull before paddling back up to the outfitters. Nice little trip. Nice waterfall on the south side of Alpine.

EP 47 as others have mentioned I think would be a good option - maybe try to grab the one campsite on Allen if you want a lake to yourselves.

I have also done a weekend trip from Hungry Jack up to Duncan which would also work. If she likes hiking this is a great trip as you can easily catch a beautiful part of the boundary trail from here.
 
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