BWCA Frost, Louse, Phoebe River route Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/03/2022 05:37PM  
Plan on entering at Crossbay and exiting at Sawbill. Thoughts, suggestions, are welcome. Will be a solo trip. Wondering if anyone can tell me an approximate time to complete this loop at a leisurely pace so I can plan food etc accordingly.

Thanks!
 
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cyclones30
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02/03/2022 06:10PM  
Not really a loop!

But I'd say if you're not wanting to rush, 2 to 3 days for each of those sections. Plus day 1 getting to Frost to stage for the Frost R. So....1+2+2+2 = 7 at min. 1+3+3+3 = 10 for a more leisurely pace. (or anywhere in between)
Michwall2
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02/03/2022 07:47PM  
Leisurely pace? Ok. Single or double portage? I will assume double for now

From Cross Bay to Frost Lake - I would plan 2 days. Cross River Entry to Karl Lake. Karl Lake to Frost Lake - Second day will be shorter, but you are saving up for the Frost River.

Frost River - The Frost River is usually done in 1 Day. You can break it into 2 days by stopping at Bolgna Lake, but it's going to feel like a short day from Frost Lake to Bologna Lake. The Bologna Lake to AFton Lake will feel more like a more average day.

Afton Lake to Mesaba Lake or Dent Lake. 1 Day should do this. I would not plan to go to Hub or Mesaba after the Frost River. The Fente to Hub portage goes straight up for 1/4 mile before leveling off for a nice walk to Hub Lake.

Louse River - The Louse River can be done in 2 days. There are campsites at Trail Lake the first night. On the second day, I suppose you could stop short of completing the Louse on Boze or Frond Lakes. Then head to Malberg Lake the 3rd day.

From Malberg to Hazel Lake on the Phoebe River is a nice day. Hazel has some nice campsites.
Hazel to Phoebe or Grace Lakes is another good chunk of the route.
You can go out to Sawbill from either Phoebe or Grace Lake in one day.

So Cross River to Frost Lake - 2 days
Frost River - 1 day (2 if you want)
Afton to Mesaba or Dent - 1
Dent to Malberg- 2 (3 if you want)
Malberg to Hazel to Phoebe to Sawbill - 3 days.

I am counting 9-11 days.

TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/03/2022 08:32PM  
Thank you. Awesome walkthrough!
TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/03/2022 08:32PM  
Thank you!
02/04/2022 07:43AM  
Be sure to search this site for some excellent information on the Louse river route. I was going to do it last year and learned a ton about the route from posts others have made. Ended up just hanging out on Malberg instead for several reasons, so I don't have any 1st hand insights.
TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/04/2022 07:54AM  
Have been doing so. I’m really excited to take a route that follows small rivers. Always been my favorite paddle. Lots of portaging sure but I’m hoping the opportunities to see lots of wildlife and few people offsets the extra work.
cyclones30
distinguished member(3895)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/04/2022 12:08PM  
If water levels are generally low to very low, add a day or two to your total.

If high water, take a day off.
scottiebaldwin
senior member (81)senior membersenior member
 
02/04/2022 05:42PM  
Take a listen to the Tumblehome Podcast episodes on The Louse River (episode 077) and The Frost River (Express Episode). It's worth your time. Lots of info and the hosts know a ton.
cyclones30
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02/04/2022 06:15PM  
scottiebaldwin: "Take a listen to the Tumblehome Podcast episodes on The Louse River (episode 077) and The Frost River (Express Episode). It's worth your time. Lots of info and the hosts know a ton."

x2
TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/04/2022 08:11PM  
scottiebaldwin: "Take a listen to the Tumblehome Podcast episodes on The Louse River (episode 077) and The Frost River (Express Episode). It's worth your time. Lots of info and the hosts know a ton."

I absolutely will! Thanks Awesome suggestion!!
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1434)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/04/2022 08:26PM  
I love the small rivers, too. I recommend splitting the Frost River if you have the time, just so it is more enjoyable and less of a slog. There are a lot of beaver dams! I did the Frost in one of my family trips and I did the Phoebe and Louse solo last summer (though in the opposite direction as you would).

Trip Report: Frost River

Trip Report: Louse and Phoebe Rivers

Suggested stops:
Long Island Lake
Bologna Lake
Afton Lake
Mesaba Lake (or Dent)
Trail Lake
Malberg Lake (spend an extra day and do a day trip to Fishdance pictographs)
Hazel, Knight, or Phoebe
exit to Sawbill

TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/08/2022 03:40PM  
straighthairedcurly: "I love the small rivers, too. I recommend splitting the Frost River if you have the time, just so it is more enjoyable and less of a slog. There are a lot of beaver dams! I did the Frost in one of my family trips and I did the Phoebe and Louse solo last summer (though in the opposite direction as you would).

Trip Report: Frost River


Trip Report: Louse and Phoebe Rivers


Suggested stops:
Long Island Lake
Bologna Lake
Afton Lake
Mesaba Lake (or Dent)
Trail Lake
Malberg Lake (spend an extra day and do a day trip to Fishdance pictographs)
Hazel, Knight, or Phoebe
exit to Sawbill


"


Thanks for the ideas!
02/10/2022 05:18PM  
First of all, great route! I have been on most of this water. The advice so far has been good although I don't see 10 or eleven days. My recommendations are:
Day 1 south. You could make Frost Lake in one day as it is about 10 miles to the west end site closest to the river entrance. But 2 days would be better and making it to Rib or Karl would be good.
Day 2 to Frost and the westernmost site close to the River is nice and closest to the river. Beware Unload Lake as it seems to have an aggressive leech population.
Day 3. Get up early. Between 15 or so portages and over 20 beaver dams, it's a good day. I do think going to Hub is a good destination. The 300 rod portage at the end of the day is not nearly as bad as it looks on the map. (I did this 3 years ago at age 62 with an Alumicraft) so it is doable. Hub is gorgeous and you will likely be alone there. The SW campsite is IMO the best and when we were there, there was a set of mature moose antlers hanging in a tree there. The sunrise is equisite.
Day 4. Don't do the entire Louse to Marlberg as we did. Try for Trail Lake. There only 2 sites and both were taken when we passed through in July of 2018.
Day 5: To Marlberg. The first site on the point on the right is very nice and excellent fishing where the river enters. Might want to spend 2 nights here.
Day 7. To Polly or a short paddle to Koma.
Day 8 to Hazel
Day 9 to Phoebe
Day 10 to exit.
This is a very reasonable time frame. The entire distance about 50 miles by map but with all the twists and turns and portages on Frost and Louse, It will seem like 70. As others have noted, it is a very doable 7 days but to me racing through the BWCA is a crime.
Good luck

Pic from Frost River
TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/14/2022 01:19PM  
Wow! Thanks again everyone! I’m super excited to do this route. Already sorting gear and planning meals.
Mocha
distinguished member(7670)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/14/2022 01:48PM  
the water in hub lake is disgusting. i'd tackle that one more long portage and get beyond that lake.

you didn't mention if you plan to single or double portage, how much gear you have and general amount of weight, plus what kind of canoe.

i realize that some may think a solo person packs light but it's not always the case.
plus, do you have your entry permit date yet?
TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/14/2022 05:05PM  
Indeed I do have my entry permit. I have a Northwind Solo canoe. I’m hoping to single portage but never been able to trim my kit down far enough. Working on it though. 12 days early spring means lots of food and extra clothes so we’ll see.
TacoOverland
senior member (68)senior membersenior member
 
02/15/2022 02:54PM  
cyclones30: "Not really a loop!


But I'd say if you're not wanting to rush, 2 to 3 days for each of those sections. Plus day 1 getting to Frost to stage for the Frost R. So....1+2+2+2 = 7 at min. 1+3+3+3 = 10 for a more leisurely pace. (or anywhere in between) "


I’d call it an open loop.
WanderingWoodsmanMN
senior member (51)senior membersenior member
 
02/18/2022 04:01PM  
Agreed with what others have said here- the Frost River section is absolutely beautiful but travel time depends on the water level. Spring should be fine but could dry up as the season goes on. I did it a few years ago in the summer and it was very low so it required a lot of pulling over rocks, beaver dams, etc. Be careful of those little leeches on your toes! I mistakenly did it in chacos and would definitely recommend closed toe shoes in case you are walking a lot in the water. Enjoy!
 
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