BWCA East Bearskin Area Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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member (5)member
01/19/2021 06:12PM  
Hello all! Last year we went to the Poplar Lake entry point down to Vista Lake and over the Gaskin Lake. Enjoyable trip, but it was crowded. Seemed most all campsites were taken. Had to stop early most days and sometimes take a less desirable sites waiting for a good one to open up. This year we are going in at East Bearskin Lake and going to Crocodile, Adler, Canoe, and Crystal Lakes. Maybe go the Johnson Falls. Anyone been to this area. Is it crowded? If you have been in the Poplar Lake area, how does it compare? Good fishing lakes. FYI we had good luck on Vista Lake catching walleye back in the long coves of the lake if you are headed that way this year. The portage into the lake is difficult because of the landing at Vista and there are only 2 sites on the lake. Cheers!
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01/19/2021 06:25PM  
If you do take the planned destination, you must take the time to go to Johnson Falls whether you take the long difficult portage or not with all of your gear. You can swim in at the pool below the falls and be sure to take the trails upstream for additional views.

As for as being crowded, you will certainly find other campers around and many basecamp in the area so you may not find the preferred site you would prefer. You will likely find a site after your fairly early departure for your trip. You likely will be able to upgrade if you are willing to send out scouts to find open sites. A walkee-talkee would help considerably with the communication you must use to facilitate the breaking of camp for moving in the most timely manner possible. Also you could use the walkee-talkee to allow you to scout two lakes or more while trying to find your first camp. You will likely lose an hour or so tracking down your camp, but it would be worth it.
distinguished member (173)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/19/2021 06:46PM  
Be careful with that advice Dan. The rules of the wilderness dictate that groups are not to occupy more than one campsite at a time. So to be clear, your “scouts” are not to sit on, drop a piece of gear on, or in anyway “reserve” a second campsite until you have completely vacated your original campsite and are paddling away.
01/19/2021 08:02PM  
2020 was also a crazy year for popularity so don't base your opinion solely on that trip, that year. But yes, poplar is a relatively common starting and ending point. Johnson falls is also a common stop but worth it
member (39)member
01/20/2021 06:42AM  
Please note that Crocodile can only be accessed from EP 66. Once in Crocodile you can not leave to visit other parts of the park. EP 64 does not allow entrance into Crocodile.
01/20/2021 08:43AM  
mike2019: "Please note that Crocodile can only be accessed from EP 66. Once in Crocodile you can not leave to visit other parts of the park. EP 64 does not allow entrance into Crocodile."

Not even a day trip? True for camping, yes. But you're saying you can't even take the portage and fish on shore and head back? Or pass through since you can get in or out via the east end too.
member (39)member
01/20/2021 10:00AM  
distinguished member(530)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/20/2021 11:26AM  
East Bearkskin to Crystal/Johnson Falls area is the only area in 20+ years of trips that I found to be crowded and we had trouble finding a site. 30 trips all across the BW we only had trouble once finding a site...that was the location.
member (33)member
01/21/2021 06:22PM  
I was there in 2019. and the area is very busy when doing the loop. I'm not sure about Crystal. Like everyone else is saying the falls are definitely worth it.
distinguished member(2665)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/21/2021 06:53PM  
Anyone please correct me if I am wrong but this is how I understand the situation...heading in on an overnight entry 64 permit would allow you to go on to Alder, etc. but would not allow you to access Crocodile Lake. That is EP 66 and if you get that permit you must stay on Crocodile Lake all nights and not leave(it's worth it for a short trip). However the only legal way to hit up Crocodile on the way in would be to get a day permit for EP 66 in addition to your trip permit, if such a thing even exists.

I have stayed on Crocodile a few times and there are folks that just come in for the day to fish the lake and leave at nightfall. So there must be a way. But if you head in there to fish on a day permit, if it is allowed and spend several hours there then you could be behind the 8 ball for finding a campsite further on at Alder or Canoe, they fill up fast.

Perhaps moving on to Alder the first day and setting up camp and getting a day permit for day 2 of your trip to head back to Crocodile to spend the day fishing, knowing that you have a campsite ready for you at the end of the day to Alder. Although technically this would be exiting the BWCA and returning to it on a day without an entry permit. Not sure how this would be perceived. Might want to check with the USFS on this one.

They seem to have it setup that if you want to go to Crocodile then that's your whole trip. Not necessarily a bad option, it's a really cool lake with great fishing and some good campsites and a pretty remote location close to an entry point.

Clarification is welcome.
01/22/2021 06:31AM  
I mostly trip in the shoulder seasons, so I have never had trouble getting a site in this area. Last fall I pretty much owned Alder lake, I think only one other site was occupied.
That said, I did go through there several years ago, when I guided a large group for Gunflint Outfitters, and the story was different, but still found sites. Plan accordingly by the season you go, and have a backup plan. Great area
distinguished member(7742)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/22/2021 09:27AM  
I am looking at the E Bearskin - Johnson Falls area for a basecamp trip during the second/third week of September. (Alder Lake?) Hopefully (for everyone's sake, not just for my solitude) everyone will be back in school and at work by then.
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