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Rachel D
Guest Paddler
 
04/25/2021 11:28PM  
I have been to the Boundary Waters a few times as a tag-a-long, but planning my first trip to bring my family who are all rookies. There will be 5 of us who aren't strangers to camping and in relatively good shape. We are looking for..

* a route for Friday AM to Sunday or Monday in late August
* off the Gunflint/Grand Marais end, they will need to rent their gear from an outfitter
* would like to avoid big lakes for the most part (to avoid wind / extreme weather)
* thinking 2 diff campsites for our 2-3 nights
* ideally portages under 100 rods each, not scared of lots of portages
* ideally would cover 5-8 miles / day
* hoping to feel secluded, find a gem of a campsite, and would love to see moose!
* not fishing

Any and all route recommendations would be more than appreciated!
 
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SkiYee
member (45)member
 
04/26/2021 07:21AM  
I think the best advice would be for you to contact an outfitter, especially since you have to rent gear anyway. Tell them what kind of trip you're looking for and they can make recommendations. They may not hit all of your bullet points, but they're the experts. Maybe try Clearwater lodge and outfitters on the Gunflint.
Michwall2
distinguished member(1265)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/26/2021 07:31AM  
Rachel D: "I have been to the Boundary Waters a few times as a tag-a-long, but planning my first trip to bring my family who are all rookies. There will be 5 of us who aren't strangers to camping and in relatively good shape. We are looking for..

* a route for Friday AM to Sunday or Monday in late August
* off the Gunflint/Grand Marais end, they will need to rent their gear from an outfitter
* would like to avoid big lakes for the most part (to avoid wind / extreme weather)
* thinking 2 diff campsites for our 2-3 nights
* ideally portages under 100 rods each, not scared of lots of portages
* ideally would cover 5-8 miles / day
* hoping to feel secluded, find a gem of a campsite, and would love to see moose!
* not fishing

Any and all route recommendations would be more than appreciated!
"


That's quite a wish list for late Aug. Without knowing your exact dates, I was looking at recreation.gov for open permits off the Gunflint and this seems to be your best bet. Today there are permits available for 8/13, 8/20, and 8/27. You will need to grab a permit quickly though.

This is an end to end trip. You will need a shuttle either to the entry (easiest) or from your end point (harder to make timing work) back to the outfitter.
Outfitters nearby include "Rockwood Lodge and Outfitting" and "Tuscarora Lodge and Canoe Outfitting". I have used both and they are great people. Both have bunkhouses for staying the night before/after.

Entry Point 50 - Cross Bay. Day 1 Cross River, portage, Cross River, portage, Ham Lake, portage, Cross River turns into Cross Bay Lake, portage, Rib Lake, portage, Lower George Lake, portage, Karl Lake, paddle southeast from Karl into Long Island Lake. The two eastern most sites on Long Island Lake are both great sites. One is on an island with plenty of space for tents and a nice kitchen set-up. The other is on the point of a peninsula and has an elevated kitchen set up and protected tent pads down in back. Of the two, the peninsula site has easier canoe landing. If you choose to spend your extra day here, a day trip to Frost Lake would be in order. There are golden sand beaches to walk and a better than average chance of seeing a moose.

Day 2 - Long Island Lake, portage (see notes), Muskeg Creek, portage (sometimes optional), Muskeg Lake, portage (see notes), Kiskadinna Lake, portage, Ogema or Omega Lake. This is your hardest day of portaging. The first portage off Long Island Lake starts in a boulder field and ends on top of a very impressive beaver dam. Take is slow and easy and help each other with loading and unloading canoes. The portage into Muskeg from the creek is what we call a lift over. Very short, but can be wet and muddy on each end. I apologize for the portage from Muskeg to Kiskadinna. Yup, it is over 100 rds. And yup, it has a big hill in the middle (it is nicknamed "The Wall"). Make sure your water bottles are full. Break it in half. Take all the gear to the portage rest near the top of the hill. Take it slow. The second half is a walk in the park. Very pretty even! If you want solitude, don't camp on Winchell Lake. It is beautiful lake and you should make a day trip there, but it is very busy. Pick one of the campsites on Ogema or even Henson Lake and you will be happier. On your day trip to Winchell Lake you should climb to the top of the cliffs for a fantastic view. And find the waterfall on the on the south shore of the lake. You can't see it from the water, but you can hear it. Check your map for the small stream coming off the hills.

Day 3 Ogema Lake, portage, Henson Lake, portage, Gaskin Lake (you will encounter many more people here) (keep an eye out for moose!), portage, Horseshoe Lake (I have seen moose on this lake 3 out of the 4 times I have been there. Keep your eyes open!), portage, Caribou Lake, portage, Lizz Lake, portage, Poplar Lake. You can paddle to Rockwood Outfitter or meet your Outfitter at the public landing.

If you wait too long and the Cross Bay permits are gone, you can do this same route from Missing Link Lake entry point (#51). I would add an extra campsite. We did this route last Aug starting at Missing Link (Start Day 1 on Round Lake, portage, Missing Link Lake, portage, Snipe Lake. Then on Day 2 join the above route with an easy portage onto Cross Bay Lake.) and we stayed night one on Snipe Lake. Then we went to the east end of Long Island Lake. We chose to stay a couple nights on busy Winchell and left to go out out from there.

04/26/2021 08:01AM  
There is a decent book by Robert Beymer you might find useful. See link below. There are actually two books, one for the eastern region and one for the western region. I think the link I pasted below is for the eastern region but double check to make sure.

BWCA route book
Speckled
distinguished member(558)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/26/2021 08:25AM  
SkiYee: "I think the best advice would be for you to contact an outfitter, especially since you have to rent gear anyway. Tell them what kind of trip you're looking for and they can make recommendations. They may not hit all of your bullet points, but they're the experts. Maybe try Clearwater lodge and outfitters on the Gunflint."

+1

There are many many opportunities. An outfitter will be able to check available permits and your list of wants and plug you into a great trip!
Michwall2
distinguished member(1265)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/26/2021 08:31AM  
Rachel D: "I have been to the Boundary Waters a few times as a tag-a-long, but planning my first trip to bring my family who are all rookies. There will be 5 of us who aren't strangers to camping and in relatively good shape. We are looking for..

* a route for Friday AM to Sunday or Monday in late August
* off the Gunflint/Grand Marais end, they will need to rent their gear from an outfitter
* would like to avoid big lakes for the most part (to avoid wind / extreme weather)
* thinking 2 diff campsites for our 2-3 nights
* ideally portages under 100 rods each, not scared of lots of portages
* ideally would cover 5-8 miles / day
* hoping to feel secluded, find a gem of a campsite, and would love to see moose!
* not fishing

Any and all route recommendations would be more than appreciated!
"


I wrote all the above without checking the Lizz Lake (entry #47) permit status. If Aug 27 works for your group, TODAY - RIGHT NOW - Call one of the outfitters I mentioned and reserve a permit for that date at Entry #47 Lizz Lake.

Day 1 - Poplar Lake, portage, Lizz Lake, portage, Caribou Lake, portage, Horseshoe Lake. If there is a campsite open here, nab one. Otherwise, Horseshoe to Gaskin Lake. Camp here. Again, Horseshoe Lake is moose central in the BW these days. Keep your eyes open.

Day 2 - Day trip to Winchell Lake. (See my previous post).

Day 3 - Back out the way you came in. OR - Day trip to ? Pick a destination or loop. If you haven't seen a moose yet, you might loop back through Horseshoe Lake and spend some time just paddling that lake.

Day 4 - Back out the way you came in.

No Wall, good chance to see moose, no bigger lakes, short easy portages, etc. If you want a different campsite for night 2/3, pack up on Gaskin and visit Winchell on your way to Ogema(Omega) or Henson for more solitude.

If you want to do the other route, you could start at Lizz Lake and end at either Cross Bay or Missing Link.

MikeinMpls
distinguished member(1051)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/26/2021 09:36AM  
I agree with all the above. If you're using an outfitter, the outfitter may have a permit for a route that works well for you. I'm a big fan of the Granite River route (EP 57.) Easy, pretty, lots of cool stuff to see.

Mike
Rachel D
Guest Paddler
 
04/26/2021 11:29AM  
Wow - thanks for all the insight!

I actually did the Round Lake -> Missing Link Lake -> Snipe Lake -> Long Island Lake route late last August as well. It was beautiful.

I'm looking at the Lizz Lake permit - do you think if we began Saturday AM (Aug 21), too many of the campsites would be already occupied since we would be getting a 'late' start on the weekend? In reference to your second post of Poplar Lake -> Lizz Lake -> Caribou Lake -> Horseshoe Lake -> Gaskin Lake.

Thanks!!
Rachel D
Guest Paddler
 
04/26/2021 11:33AM  
Michwall2: "Rachel D: "I have been to the Boundary Waters a few times as a tag-a-long, but planning my first trip to bring my family who are all rookies. There will be 5 of us who aren't strangers to camping and in relatively good shape. We are looking for..


* a route for Friday AM to Sunday or Monday in late August
* off the Gunflint/Grand Marais end, they will need to rent their gear from an outfitter
* would like to avoid big lakes for the most part (to avoid wind / extreme weather)
* thinking 2 diff campsites for our 2-3 nights
* ideally portages under 100 rods each, not scared of lots of portages
* ideally would cover 5-8 miles / day
* hoping to feel secluded, find a gem of a campsite, and would love to see moose!
* not fishing


Any and all route recommendations would be more than appreciated!
"



I wrote all the above without checking the Lizz Lake (entry #47) permit status. If Aug 27 works for your group, TODAY - RIGHT NOW - Call one of the outfitters I mentioned and reserve a permit for that date at Entry #47 Lizz Lake.


Day 1 - Poplar Lake, portage, Lizz Lake, portage, Caribou Lake, portage, Horseshoe Lake. If there is a campsite open here, nab one. Otherwise, Horseshoe to Gaskin Lake. Camp here. Again, Horseshoe Lake is moose central in the BW these days. Keep your eyes open.


Day 2 - Day trip to Winchell Lake. (See my previous post).


Day 3 - Back out the way you came in. OR - Day trip to ? Pick a destination or loop. If you haven't seen a moose yet, you might loop back through Horseshoe Lake and spend some time just paddling that lake.


Day 4 - Back out the way you came in.


No Wall, good chance to see moose, no bigger lakes, short easy portages, etc. If you want a different campsite for night 2/3, pack up on Gaskin and visit Winchell on your way to Ogema(Omega) or Henson for more solitude.

If you want to do the other route, you could start at Lizz Lake and end at either Cross Bay or Missing Link.


"


Wow - thanks for all the insight!

I actually did the Round Lake -> Missing Link Lake -> Snipe Lake -> Long Island Lake route late last August as well. It was beautiful.

I'm looking at the Lizz Lake permit - do you think if we began Saturday AM (Aug 21), too many of the campsites would be already occupied since we would be getting a 'late' start on the weekend? In reference to your second post of Poplar Lake -> Lizz Lake -> Caribou Lake -> Horseshoe Lake -> Gaskin Lake.

Thanks!!
Michwall2
distinguished member(1265)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
04/26/2021 03:36PM  
As you can tell, Lizz Lake is a hot ticket permit. Too late is relative. How far do you want to travel the first day to find a campsite? That is the question. Will Horseshoe Lake be full - most likely. Will Gaskin Lake be full? Might be a couple sites left. Will Winchell be full? Most likely. Might you have to travel to Henson or Ogema for a site. Possibly.
MarshallPrime
distinguished member (376)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/05/2021 09:20AM  
This is the exact route I was thinking for you. I would do from Lizz and Caribou then head west to Kiskadina, Omega, Long Island then north out at Ham. It is easier to do the "WALL" portage from East heading West. Getting the permit will be the trick, flex your start day a day or 2 to make it work.
bottomtothetap
distinguished member(929)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/05/2021 09:55AM  
I've done the two trips laid out by Michwall2--each of them just the way they were described in the posts--and these would be great choices if you can get a permit. I brought rookies each time and they did fine. The Muskeg-to-Kiskadinna portage is a tester if you choose that route (while shorter, the Kiskadinna-to-Omega portage is no treat either) but strategize your team work and it won't be too terrible. We did it with aluminum canoes. Agree that the falls on Winchell is worth a side trip if you have time.
05/05/2021 10:47AM  
Are you firm on using the gunflint trail? You could go to Sawbill and get your gear through them. Sawbill has great options in the 100rd range. You could go to the burning chain, Smoke, Burnt, Flame. Those are great lakes for a first timer, since it's not too far and hard to get lost.

Beth is another good option. The Alton-Beth portage is about 145rds and a little more up and down than most people like, so the crowds tend to drop off once you get past Alton.

If you are going as far as Beth, I encourage you to consider Grace. The Beth-Grace portage 280rds long and hard work. I did that portage on my first BWCA trip, on the first day too. I'm not going to lie, that portage sucked, but a little hard work isn't enough to stop us. Grace was worth it. Phoebe is a great lake too and you can day trip from Grace easily. Sawbill to Grace is not that bad of a day if you are spending a few days there, it's 3 portages and the first from Sawbill is short and easy. I've gone twice as far in a day before.

What I like about the Lady Chain route is the flexibility. You can stop on Beth if you didn't like the 145rd portage, stay on Grace if you want to take on the 280rd portage, or even continue on to Phoebe like I did. All 3 lakes are worth spending a couple nights on.
pswith5
distinguished member(3563)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/05/2021 05:50PM  
as to your question about lateness..it isn't necessarily about late in the weekend, although can have some bearing, but late in the day is more of an issue. If you travel early in the day you have a better chance of catching someone leaving a site. Of course, this year like last year might be different all together than ,"normal"
 
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