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member (16)member
01/29/2024 12:16PM  
Trying to lock down plans before 1/31. This is a family trip with 2 kids, but we've done several before. These are my criteria, in approximate order of importance:

1. Can do a loop trip where we paddle a lake or two in, camp, move a day later, and paddle out to the same spot (but not an out-and-back). Lollipop routes OK.
2. Reasonably remote. We're going in high season but want to be alone to the extent possible
3. Avoid HUGE portages (300 rods+)
4. Decent availability of campsites - I get squirmy when I know we're targeting 1 or 2 sites and have poor backup options. I know this conflicts a bit with (2)

Prior EPs have been Snowbank (pretty good, camping on Ensign was crowded), Little Isabella (OK, was 2021 so fire closed a bunch of it), Moose (bad, ended up on Basswood which was too crowded), and LISN (pretty good, the river paddle as a slog). Also nothing up the gunflint please - extra driving makes the logistics tough for us. Am thinking Little Gabbro or Snake River but open to ideas.
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member (14)member
01/29/2024 12:37PM  
I like your ideas of Little Gabbro and Snake River. I've entered each way (with kids). There are lots of campsites on Little Gabbro, Gabbro and Bald Eagle. You'll definitely see people on this route, but there's plenty of room on Gabbro and Bald Eagle to spread out. The lakes are very scenic and there are rapids between Gabbro and Bald Eagle that are cool to check out with kids.

The one caveat on your checklist is that it's pretty hard to make a loop (even a lollipop) on these routes. If that is #1 on your list, I would consider dropping a car at one EP and getting a lift to another. I've done that twice where I've entered at Snake River and exited at Little Gabbro. It adds a little to the complexity and cost of the trip (if you use an outfitter for the lift), but to me, it made for a more interesting trip. I would definitely go in Snake River and out Little Gabbro, not the other way around.

And just one more note about the Snake River, I went that way twice and I really struggled navigating the river in low water levels. It might have been my skill, and/or the fact it was just me and my son who was 7-8 years old at the time, but I recall it being difficult to find the portages and navigate the low water. I'm not sure about the precipitation levels in the BWCA, but I'm suspecting it's not going to be a high-water spring like the last two springs have been.
member (16)member
01/29/2024 01:09PM  
Thanks. If we do Snake we'd probably paddle up to Turtle, spend 2 nights, then do a north/east paddle to Gull, then out. That's enough of a loop for me.
distinguished member (424)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/29/2024 01:35PM  
IMO 3 is a pre-requisite to both 2 and 4 during peak season. Those difficult portages are worth it!

A Sawbill/Kawishiwi loop(The Lady Chain) won't offer a ton of seclusion but meets your other criteria. IDK if that's too far east for you. If you only have one car, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters can help shuttling.

A loop out of Mudro through Horse and Fourtown is always a good time but you will have competition for the best sites (and the permit, even this Wednesday) The 80 rods between Mudro and Sandpit is more taxing than a lot of 300 rod portages.

The Timber-Frear Loop meets your criteria very well. When I've been there I saw very few other people, less than most BWCA trips, but I've only been there in September.

distinguished member(5695)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/29/2024 02:54PM  
Look at the 3 entry points (50, 51 & 52) at Tuscarora Outfitters . Some longer portages but nothing crazy.
01/29/2024 03:33PM  
Kawishiwi Lake, Moose River North, Seagull come to mind.
01/29/2024 07:59PM  
A popular route is the Kawishiwi triangle. Can use either a So Kawishiwi River entry or Farm Lake entry.
01/29/2024 08:05PM  
I would suggest you reconsider out and back trips. Things look different on the way in compared to the way out and sometimes you see things you missed entirely on the way in. Sometimes it just works out as the best way to see the area. No shame in an out and back trip.

Anyways I would put the Homer Lake entry out there as a good option with easy entry, fairly remote, good fishing, good daytrip options and a scenic area. There are 2 nice campsites on Vern Lake and if you can get one of those you are set. If they are busy there are options on both Pipe Lake and Juno Lake, neither far away, Pipe Lake is possibly even more remote than Vern. The Vern River is a great daytrip no matter where you are staying, Juno is a really cool and scenic long and narrow lake with good fishing. You could go to Brule from Juno and make it a loop trip ( with a 1.5 mile hike back to the car) or retrace back to Vern. From Vern there is another way to bet back to Homer so if you went in the north way, go out the south way or vice versa.

One of my favorite trips for an easy entry without crowds and a simple uncomplicated itinerary to enjoy the BWCA. Trip report if you are interested:

Homer to Vern, exploring the Vern River
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