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ockycamper
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09/01/2021 10:15AM  
One of the guys in our group suggested this area as a backup if our BWCA reservations get cancelled. There was only one "dispersed" site available for the third week of September, Chicago Lake, site 001, so we reserved it.

Can anyone tell me about this area? Chicago lake? What would the fishing be like? It looks like you drive right to the camp sites, although they are a good deal apart and tent only.

thanks
 
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sedges
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09/01/2021 11:10AM  
Odd, I see no Chicago Lake in Sylvania Wilderness. Also, there are no drive-up campsites in the Sylvania Wilderness Area
09/01/2021 11:13AM  
I don’t think you drive to them. There are a lot of trails through the park so you can backpack to some sites. I’ve never gone before, but do have nine nights reserved over two sites the last week of September. I also have a BW permit for 9/5. Here’s to hoping.
gloriouslatrine
 
09/01/2021 12:02PM  
I see a Chicago Lake dispersed site in the Hiawatha forest, which is also in the UP but further east. I did camp in one of those dispersed sites a couple years ago and it was pretty nice. We used it primarily as a base camp and explored Pictured Rocks and other stuff in the area.

I am too new to post links, but this is the Chicago Lake Hiawatha dispersed site.
https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/273334
ockycamper
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09/01/2021 12:06PM  
I realized that after posting. When I went to Reservations.gov and Sylvania Wilderness Area I clicked on dispersed sites. Chicago lake popped up so I reserved it. That is not what we are looking for so I cancelled it. Will have to pay more attention to how the booking system works.
09/01/2021 01:55PM  
sedges: "Odd, I see no Chicago Lake in Sylvania Wilderness. Also, there are no drive-up campsites in the Sylvania Wilderness Area"

There is a medium size multi loop drive in camp area on Clark with access to the large beach, a canoe landing, and the visitor buildings including showers. As it is also a USFS campsite it may not be open, but normally is year around.

butthead
naturboy12
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09/01/2021 06:57PM  
Be advised that the visitors station and the entire shower/restroom facility at the beach area have been closed all summer as part of their COVID mitigation strategy. Doesn’t effect wilderness camping (which this year is 100% by reservation only through the same site you used) or camping in the Clark Lake campground, but does mean there is less staff around to help with questions.
mjmkjun
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09/08/2021 05:47PM  
I just returned and am happy I experienced Sylvania. It's not over-developed as I feared. The old forest growth was splendid. Spent a night on Fox 2 on southeast corner of Crooked Lake but had no privacy from those camped at Fox 1. Not at the campsite nor at latrine. Ugh! Next time, a lone site for me or one distanced in the pairing. It was busy by the car count in parking lot at Crooked Lake but did not seem so when paddling the lake. The landings at Clark Lake and Crooked Lake are very nicely done with plenty concrete with line-marked parking spaces. Campground hosts, fellow campers, and Rangers are all so nice and accommodating. Clark Lake is catch and release only. Crooked Lake = follow MN DNR fishing regulations. The overall quiet only broken by a small aircraft passing over once or twice or a paddle bumping the gunwales in the distance.

Rangers were on duty at the entrance station on day 3 out of the 7 days I was at the campground. (Aug 30-Sept 5)
Didn't paddle Clark Lake & didn't fish on Crooked during this trip.
bottomtothetap
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09/09/2021 09:36PM  
mjmkjun: "I just returned and am happy I experienced Sylvania. It's not over-developed as I feared. The old forest growth was splendid. Spent a night on Fox 2 on southeast corner of Crooked Lake but had no privacy from those camped at Fox 1. Not at the campsite nor at latrine. Ugh! Next time, a lone site for me or one distanced in the pairing. It was busy by the car count in parking lot at Crooked Lake but did not seem so when paddling the lake. The landings at Clark Lake and Crooked Lake are very nicely done with plenty concrete with line-marked parking spaces. Campground hosts, fellow campers, and Rangers are all so nice and accommodating. Clark Lake is catch and release only. Crooked Lake = follow MN DNR fishing regulations. The overall quiet only broken by a small aircraft passing over once or twice or a paddle bumping the gunwales in the distance.


Rangers were on duty at the entrance station on day 3 out of the 7 days I was at the campground. (Aug 30-Sept 5)
Didn't paddle Clark Lake & didn't fish on Crooked during this trip. "


Thanks for the report, mjmkjun! In another thread, I had talked about Sylvania as an alternative when our BWCA permit got cancelled. Thought that we wern't going to be able to pull it off but now a trip to Sylvania is back on for the end of Sept. and I'm excited to go! Did you get any kind of a BWCA "feel" in this park? I heard showers are not available after the trip at the park this year due to COVID. Did you figure out some kind of an alternative or just bear with it 'till you got home? Someone mentioned showers at a nearby truck stop...
mjmkjun
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09/10/2021 07:26AM  
Bottomtothetap, I towed a travel trailer so had a base in the campground in loop 3. I have a tip for you. Loop one, #10 (next to host in #9) has a path that leads to Katherine Lake. I walked it and it's short enought to portage a canoe/pack for day fishing. Bass, bluegill, perch in that small lake. I didn't get to fish it but the hosts have and with bragging rights! haha. They are a sweet couple. If no one is in #10 you can access the path. Otherwise, Loop 1 and most of loop 2 are first come first serve only. They rarely are full-occupancy even on holidays, I was told by host. Quieter loops too. Loop 3 (not loop 1) has flush toilets and sinks w/mirrors/well-lit. The pit toilet huts are the cleanest I've ever seen.
Showers: The terrain is hilly so that if you are too close to a 'sister' site then an individual could set up a pocket shower away from camp. Let's say--in a nearby gully out of view. Boil up a pot of water + 2 pots of lake water = tepid water to shower. Or pack an extra small tarp. There's a great product called 'No Rinse' for the hair. The stuff is amazing. No more greasy sweaty hair on the pillow/hammock.

A BWCA feel? Well........sorta.......kinda. Ya gotta remember I had campsite neighbors closeby--within plain view. Without them, I'd say it's close to a bwca feel but not so much rock & boulders strewn about like the BWCA.

At the Crooked Lake landing you'll see houses that were grandfathered (lawsuits) in when the land transitioned. Houses and piers are few and peaceful enough but they are the reason motors are allowed on Crooked Lake. I only saw one motorboat in Crooked during the 7 days I was there. 99.8% kayak & canoe traffic.
I believe you/group will enjoy.
The closest place for gas is in Watersmeet which is an intersection at US 2 & US 45. Everything else is a considerable drive. Watersmeet has a Roadhouse Grill-Bar (good eats!), grocery store ($$$) adjacent to restaurant, car wash and there's a Krist's convenience store across the side steet. A 16-mile r.t. from the campground. Stock up before you get there. Drinking water spigots in the campground.
EDIT: apologies. Loop 3 had the flush toilets/modern restroom.
moray
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09/10/2021 07:47AM  
I just got back from a Sylvania trip with my friend. We had a good time but as others have said it is definitely BW lite. Our site was huge and mostly clean. We did find 2 onions and a soda bottle hidden in a tree stump and a few other small pieces of garbage. My biggest complaint was the closeness of other sites. We regularly caught glimpses our neighbors when doing regular camp chores but they were very respectful and we rarely heard them. We had good and bad days fishing but I think the fronts that were going through was what was effecting fish. We based on 1 lake but traveled to 4 others and it was a very pretty area with a wilderness feel. Check out time from site is 1:00 so we took our time leaving and ended up staying the night in Eagle River on our exit day so that took care of our shower problem.
09/10/2021 09:20AM  
moray: "Check out time from site is 1:00 "

It should be noted that check out time from backcountry campsites is 12 noon, not 1 PM. Check in time for those sites is 1 PM.

It was annoying to have to wait for one group to get its act together and leave.
mjmkjun
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09/10/2021 02:07PM  
Ausable: "moray: "Check out time from site is 1:00 "


It should be noted that check out time from backcountry campsites is 12 noon, not 1 PM. Check in time for those sites is 1 PM.


It was annoying to have to wait for one group to get its act together and leave."

Correct . I splilled out of my hammock at 8 am and by 9:30 am the two fellas who were to stay that night at Fox 2 had pulled up to the bank and unloaded stuff on the bank then paddled away to go fishing. I wasn't offended by it but thought it was bold of 'em. I broke camp at my normal pace and paddled off by 11:30 am. They didn't say a word to me much less acknowledge I was there. I was up on the hill at the firepit & my hammock set-up.
Later, when conversing with the host at the campground I mentioned it and he thought it was rude of those guys. Was it?

09/10/2021 07:45PM  
It seems rude and presumptuous to me. We arrived at a campsite about 1:15 to find that the previous people had packed their stuff but then had left it in camp with a note pinned to it saying they'd be back to pick it up later and hoped that we didn't mind. Well, what if we did mind? They marched into camp later that afternoon. I felt like asking them to pay me the reservation fee. Sorry, I'm just feeling grouchy about self centered people.
moray
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09/10/2021 08:18PM  
Ausable: "moray: "Check out time from site is 1:00 "


It should be noted that check out time from backcountry campsites is 12 noon, not 1 PM. Check in time for those sites is 1 PM.


It was annoying to have to wait for one group to get its act together and leave."


You are correct. My mistake. We paddled out around 11:30.I’m happy no one was rushing us to get off our site.
 
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