BWCA First trip Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
Chat Rooms (0 Chatting)  |  Search  |   Login/Join
* For the benefit of the community, commercial posting is not allowed.
Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Trip Planning Forum
      First trip     
 Forum Sponsor



Guest Paddler
03/26/2023 04:02PM  
Looking to do my first BWCA trip with a group of friends this June. I am looking for some tips on campsites and entry points that are still available. I am new to the whole website and area. Any other tips or advice would be great, too. Some seclusion would be great. Short portages wouldn't be a big deal.

Thank you for any help!
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next
distinguished member(1357)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/26/2023 04:50PM  
You leave out a lot of info that would help. e.g. How Long? Type of trip: basecamp, travel. Fishing? Yes-No. Your canoe experience? Lots - Some - None. Etc.

Number one suggestion is decide on an area you would like to visit and contact an outfitter in that area. They can put together an itinerary based upon your interests. Otherwise, you can start dreaming with these suggestions.

I will assume a 5-7 day trip - you will have to adjust for your length.

But here are a few suggestion of what I might think are good first timer trips.

Baker Lake Entry (dates w/open permits June 5, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29) Cherokee Loop - Day 1 Baker to Kelly or Jack Lakes. Stop and visit the abandoned mine at the north end of the Kelly to Jack Lake portage. Jack to South or North Temperance Lakes. South Temperance is an Island studded beauty of a lake, but with only 4-5 campsites is often full. Day 3. Temperance Lakes to Cherokee Lake. Beware the Sitka to Cherokee Portage today. There is not a flat spot to be found. Day 4 Day trip to Frost Lake for a chance to walk the golden sand beaches and a chance to see moose. Day 6 Cherokee to Smoke or Burnt Lake. Day 7 Out to Baker Lake

Sawbill Lake Entry (dates w/open permits June 3, 4, 5, 6, 13) Do the Cherokee Loop in reverse starting on Sawbill Lake.

Cross Bay Lake Entry - (dates w/open permits June 4, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30) You are going to go end to end here to Lizz Lake entry off of Poplar Lake on the Gunflint Trail. Either arrange for a drop off at Cross Bay Entrance or a pick up at the public parking spot on Poplar Lake. Day 1 - Cross Bay to Long Island Lake. There are lots of great campsites here. Day 2 - Day trip to Frost Lake (see above). Day 3 - Long Island Lake to Winchell Lake. You will need your portage legs to go up "The Wall" between Muskeg Lake and Kiskadinna Lake today. Day 4. Layover day. Climb the path to the top of the cliffs on the south shore of Winchell Lake. And find the waterfall that enters of the hills of the south shore. You will need your ears to find this one. Day 5 Winchell to Horseshoe - You could go out this day for a shorter trip, but Horseshoe Lake is moose central and you may wnat to stick around for a night to see if you can get a few camera poses out some of the calves that will be around in the spring, Day 6 Out to Poplar Lake and your end of the trip.

Missing Link Lake Entry - (dates w/ open permits - almost any day in June.) Day 1 - Put in on Round Lake and head to Missing Link Lake. From there you can head east to Cross Bay Lake through Snipe Lake and Join the itinerary above. Or you can take the huge leap of faith and cross the 1.5 mile Missing Link to Tuscarora portage on Day 1. Day 2 Head to Little Saganaga. This is an amazing BW lake. Lots of gorgeous islands, great campsites, and amazing vistas. One of my most favorite lakes in the BW. Day 3. Take the northern route out of Little Sag to Gillis Lake. (through Virgin, West Fern, and Powell). Day 4 Out back to Round Lake through Green, Bat, Flying, Goter, Brant, Edith, West Round, and Round. There are day trips that can be added in almost any direction from this route, but it is a high quality and little traveled space.

Kawishiwi Lake Entry - (dates w/open permits June 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29) You will park your car and spend the night before at Sawbill Lake (Campground). Ask the good folks at Sawbill Outfitters for a shuttle ($$) to Kawishiwi Lake. You will return to Sawbill in a few days. Day 1 - Kawishiwi Lake to Lake Polly. You will pass through the eastern most end of the Pagami Creek Fire zone today. Be amazed at the forest regeneration occurring around you. Day 2 Polly Lake to Phoebe or Grace Lakes. This route along the Phoebe River is a beautiful spot. Travel as quietly as possible and see what wildlife you can spot. Hazel Lake has two nice campsites and would be a great spot to spend a night if you want to extend this trip. Day 3 Phoebe or Grace Lake to Alton or Kelso Lake. Once you cross the 280rd portage from Grace to Beth Lake you are in the Sawbill entry zone and campsites may be harder to come by. If you find one open on Beth, grab it. It is a wonderful spot to spend a night. The water is very clear and the cliffs at the east end can be used to cliff jump (if you dare in June!). If you get to Kelso Lake, take a trip north on the Kelso River to find the Viking Dolman! You will have to decide for yourself if you believe that this is just a random glacial rock thing or a true Viking marker.

Kawishiwi Lake Option 2 - Day 1 - Kawishiwi Lake to Lake Polly. Day 2 Lake Polly to Malberg Lake. Day 3 - Day trip southwest out of Malberg Lake to Fishdance Lake to see the Pictographs. Day 4 - Day trip - Northwest out of Malberg to Makwa Lake to see the amazing cliffs there. Day 5 - Day trip east out of Malberg along the Louse River to Boze and Frond Lakes. (Use this experience to plan your next trip along the Louse from east to west next summer.) The Louse is a high quality wilderness with lots of solitude. Expect lots of beaver dams and very few people. Day 6 - Back to Lake Polly. Day 7 - Back to Kawishiwi Lake.

Kawishiwi Lake - Option 3 - Come up with your own mixture of options 1 & 2 starting at Kawishiwi and ending at Sawbill.

I hope these ideas help! I am sure that others with give you suggestions.

03/26/2023 04:55PM  
Welcome, Ramsey! You'll find lots of good information on this website and a friendly community willing to provide you with insights and suggestions.

My indirect answer to your question, but still my best suggestion given what you stated, would be to call or email an outfitter to help get you started, especially if you'll need canoes, gear, or meal prep help. The list of outfitters on the button above is a good place to start.

That said, a quick search of June permits and I think Homer Lake would meet your goals. There are a couple of routes with minimal portages. While you will see other people, you should be able to be fairly secluded. You can go to the map section on this website for reviews of the potential campsites and get good information and see a few pics too.

If you search this site you can also find trip reports with detailed information about the possible routes.

It would be great to learn more about your trip plans to provide additional ideas.

Good luck planning and enjoy your trip!
03/26/2023 07:18PM  
Link to permit availability Permit type is overnight paddle.

Permits are specific to both date and entry point and I assume quite a few are available. If you have some flexibility with dates, you have more options. If you take the suggestion of others to talk to an outfitter, they will ask you questions to narrow your options to something suitable. At the top is a tab "Outfitters" that lists them, what they provide, and what area they serve - Ely, Sawbill Trail, Gunflint Trail.

The "Planning" tab at the top is also a good starting point for what to be prepared for and the rules to abide by.

I'm never really clear on how many rods someone else's short portage is and how many they are willing/capable of doing. Everybody is looking for short portages, so there will be less seclusion, but maybe still acceptable.

You can find some information on portages and campsites on the "Maps and Entry Points" tab at the top. The best thing to do is ask questions.

There are also some guidebooks you can purchase at the "Store" tab at the top.

Sign up as a member and start sharing, asking questions, and gathering information.

Another entry not mentioned is Brant Lake which is also out of Round Lake like Missing Link is.

Guest Paddler
03/26/2023 07:42PM  
Thank you! I looked at Homer and that looks perfect. It will be a 4 day trip with multiple couples so that trip looks relatively easy.
distinguished member(5455)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
03/26/2023 09:43PM  
03/27/2023 08:09PM  
You have chosen a great entry point with good scenery, relative solitude, a few good daytrip options , decent campsites, easy access and some pretty darn good fishing.

It is not a challenging route to get in with few and easy portages to get to Vern Lake, Pipe Lake or even Juno Lake. I would recommend Vern Lake as a destination. Two good campsites, both with their advantages but comfortable. If you stay on Vern, or even if you don't, a daytrip up the Vern River is awesome with good scenery and great fishing. In general this area is quieter than most so you might see a couple canoes...or you might not.

Let me know if you have any specific questions, it is a favorite entry of mine.

Here is a trip report from a trip several years ago.

Homer Lake entry

Hope you have a great time, do a trip report if you can upon return.
distinguished member(2704)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/28/2023 11:32AM  
And as suggested,

You should consider an outfitter. They will supply you with everything you need. Since you are new to this, you don’t know what you don’t know.
An outfitter can probably outfit you and your group with everything cheaper than if you try to do this on your own.

Have fun! Leave no trace.
senior member (64)senior membersenior member
06/07/2023 03:18AM  
1.”Pack” water to take with you at entry/exit point. Some entry points are long shallow rivers and water is yucky.
2. Take a weather radio for peace of mind- wind speeds and storm warnings.
Reply    Reply with Quote    Print Top Bottom Previous Next