BWCA Fall Lake Entry June 27th Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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member (6)member
06/19/2023 11:22AM  
Hello all. I'm taking my family into Fall Lake on June 27th hoping to make our way up through Pipestone bay into the non-motorized areas of Basswood. This will be our first time in this area of the BWCA. Should we expect a good amount of traffic? Mostly concerned about campsite availability. I'm also a bit concerned about wind.
Any advice or recommendations from you all will be most welcome. Thanks.
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distinguished member (119)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/19/2023 12:52PM  
Did this trip for the first time last year right in the middle of June. This is probably not what you want to here but,,, here we go: We ran into tons of traffic on the 1st two portages. At one point, we counted 12 canoes, about 35-40 people and 1 motorized boat all bottle necked at the end of one portage. By far the busiest portage I've experienced. As far as campsites go, we were looking to get a spot at the northern end of pipestone bay but they were all taken. so we had to drop down about a mile+ and found a decent site. It then proceeded to rain and winds persisted at 20-35 mph for the next 4 days. Was a crazy trip. I chalk it up to having so many near perfects trips in the previous years that the odds finally played out on us.

Anyway, not to scare you... I don't think our experience was the norm. I'd probably expect a little heavier traffic than you're used to and that you may have to settle for a little lesser than desired site in the no motor zone since this is the area many canoers probably strive to get to in order to avoid the sounds of motors. (Lower expectations equals less disappointment if things don't go perfect.) In regards to wind, mother nature will let you know. Regardless, I hope you have a great trip and get the site you are looking for!

Happy Paddling,
member (6)member
06/20/2023 08:37AM  
Thanks for the response. I figured that might be the case. I was late getting our permit purchased so there weren't a lot of appealing options. I know you said you were pretty hindered by weather. Did you manage to make it up into the non-motorized part of basswood at all? I'd love to know how busy the area up near basswood falls is and whether it's realistic to expect to find a campsite up in that area.
distinguished member (119)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/20/2023 07:33PM  
No, we didn't go quite that far. One of our crew had MS, so we tried not to push to far. We made it up into the small bay where Jackfish and Pipestone Bays come togethor but everything was taken, so we backtracked down south to site 1589. (decent site, I left comments and a photo on the competitors site that you're not allowed to mention if you care to read it) Thought about getting up in the non motorized area on the second day, but wind unfortunately had us land locked. All the reports we got from people coming in is that it was pretty full above Pipestone and Jackfish. If you have the energy and drive, I'd definitely push up to the area you're eying. If for any other reason, just to escape the sound of boats.

Good Luck!
distinguished member(1485)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/20/2023 10:38PM  
During normal years it is not too difficult to find campsites near there. Things have been busier the last few years, who knows about this year? I've heard quite a few people say that things have calmed down a lot this year. Some years we saw almost noone going down Pipestone Bay, other years we saw several motorboats and a few canoes. I have never seen it really crowded above the motorized area, but have not been there in a few years. Basswood River itself is usually moderately to very busy.
member (7)member
06/21/2023 08:34AM  
We’re heading there on the 24th and plan on going up to the basswood falls area to find a campsite hopefully. Haven’t been since 2016, which wasn’t bad as far as being crowded but obviously things have changed. Also doesn’t help with them closing areas to the east and people canceling permits out there and getting a new one, which is what we did. I do remember when we went up there, which was my first time, it was real windy when paddling in, made it tough making it up there in a timely manner.
distinguished member(1021)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
06/22/2023 06:50AM  
This is the same trip that I've planned for Labor Day weekend because I have not been in this way before and just wanted something new/different. I've kinda avoided the motorized and "really crowded" (seriously, where is really crowded anywhere in the BWCA?) areas in the past but my now social-security-eligible body is telling me the long portages and interior lakes are probably a part of my past.

I was a bit concerned about the motor traffic diminishing the experience for a couple of newbies I'm bringing but an outfitter I've talked to assures me that by that time of year the "crowds" and motor traffic in this area is greatly diminished from June levels. The wind is what it is and I have dealt with that before as one can experience that anywhere, though I also like smaller lakes than this to help minimize that aspect.

I'm interested in anyone's experience here from the early parts of September. We will probably shoot for upper Pipestone Bay around Lewis Narrows for our first day, stay a couple of nights then work our way back down to southern Pipestone Bay for another night or two before a Fall Lake exit.

Any other campsite tips? Worthwhile day trips (Baswood Falls?, Hoist/Back Bay? Hikes?)?
member (6)member
07/03/2023 04:54PM  
We finished up our trip yesterday and I thought I would give a follow up. We traveled early on the 27th leaving the launch on Fall Lake around 6 AM. Only encountered one group on each portage, both motorized one entering and one leaving. As we traveled through Pipestone Bay, the majority of the campsites were occupied. Granted this was all before 10 AM so some may have moved on after we passed. Got to the end of the motorized area around 10:30 and did find several unoccupied sites along the northwest shore. We base camped at an island site for the 5 nights we were there and saw a good bit of traffic go by. We made 2 day trips to basswood falls to fish and explore and it was fairly busy both times.

We also traveled early on the 2nd leaving our campsite around 6:30 AM. I witnessed more of the same as far as campsite availability goes on the way out. Things were probably more full actually. We had the portage at Pipestone falls to ourselves but the portage from Newton into Fall Lake had 4 groups in addition to ours using it. This was my first time to this area so I'm not sure if this was busier than normal but figured I would at least do my best to answer my own questions. I may try to post a more detailed trip report, but I'm not very good at keeping a journal so no promises :).
07/03/2023 05:39PM  
Sounds like it was a success. Do the trip report now while its fresh in your memory!
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