BWCA Man Chain into Falls Chain mileage Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
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05/30/2024 10:02PM  
Does anyone know roughly what the mileage is of the Man Chain, into the Falls Chain, then through Louisa lake? I’m leaning towards starting and ending at Prairie Portage. Maybe a tow to and/or from Prairie Portage. This will be my first time in Quetico, planning this for trip for mid to late June of 2025.

 
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05/31/2024 08:23AM  
About 60 miles, starting/ending at PP.
cburton103
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05/31/2024 12:25PM  
I’m doing this route starting in a week. With tows to and from Prairie Portage, 60 miles is about right. In Quetico especially, portages will tire you out. So don’t just look at mileage. Also consider the number, length, and difficulty of portages along a route.

We plan to have five travel days and three layover days for this route. I expect two of the travel days to feel moderate in terms of difficulty, and three of the days to be moderately strenuous. That’s for a group of average to fit 36 year olds who single portage efficiently but paddle average speed at best.

This route is supposed to be great though. It will be my 15th total BWCA/Quetico trip over as many summers.
05/31/2024 01:51PM  
I’m planning on 10 days for this route. Should be plenty of built in leisure/waylee time. All four of us are in pretty good shape, and we won’t be in a hurry.

Thanks, let me know how your trip goes!

Jeremy
05/31/2024 01:58PM  
Just curious, who are you guys utilizing for the Tow? Also I’ve only used a tow service on way out, never on way in, do you have a set time and day to meet them for ride out? I do carry a garmin inreach so I could let them know a day or two in advance if that’s even a thing?!
cburton103
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05/31/2024 02:16PM  
Papa09: "Just curious, who are you guys utilizing for the tow?"

I’ve just gone through whoever my outfitter is that year. Honestly, I’ve been satisfied with every outfitter I’ve used. I currently use William and Hall because I like staying right on Moose Lake, and they have the best bunk house I’ve stayed in personally.

We usually just pick a date and time before the trip and meet the tow driver at that time. We take a Garmin as well and I usually get a cell number that I could text if plans changed, but I haven’t needed to do that.

One note about this route from my research is that the stretch between McEwen and Louisa campsites are a bit few and far between. They’re mostly 1-2 star rated sites, and there are a lot of portages. We plan to stay on Glacier for a couple nights and then make the push to Louisa. That’s more portages than we ideally prefer in a day, but so it goes!
05/31/2024 02:33PM  
cburton103: "
Papa09: "Just curious, who are you guys utilizing for the Tow? Also I’ve only used a tow service on way out, never on way in, do you have a set time and day to meet them for ride out? I do carry a garmin inreach so I could let them know a day or two in advance if that’s even a thing?!"



I’ve just gone through whoever my outfitter is that year. Honestly, I’ve been satisfied with every outfitter I’ve used. I currently use William and Hall because I like staying right on Moose Lake, and they have the best bunk house I’ve stayed in personally.


We usually just pick a date and time before the trip and meet the tow driver at that time. We take a Garmin as well and I usually get a cell number that I could text if plans changed, but I haven’t needed to do that.


One note about this route from my research is that the stretch between McEwen and Louisa campsites are a bit few and far between. They’re mostly 1-2 star rated sites, and there are a lot of portages.

We plan to stay on Glacier for a couple nights and then make the push to Louisa. That’s more portages than we ideally prefer in a day, but so it goes!"


That’s good to know, thanks again! I haven’t dug into this route much at all. I’ve been staring at the map and this just jumped out at me.

billconner
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05/31/2024 06:29PM  
I did this maybe 8 years ago. Great route. Love the stretch between Wet and Louisa. 2 if us bother 65 or so. Tow to and from PP. 6 nights. We did Glacier to Louisa in a day as well.
06/03/2024 04:15PM  
Just completed a PP - Carp (EP) - Man Chain - Saganagons - Falls Chain - Wet - McEwen - Louisa - Sunday - PP - Moose EP 25 loop. Distance was 70 miles - single portaged. 6 nights/7 days with nights 4 and 5 on Louisa. Entered May 26. Exited June 1. The stretch between McEwen and Louisa was the most challenging for us - took about 9 hours with a few breaks. Tow from Latourell's to PP on day of entry and paddled out to EP 25 on day of exit. Filled out a day use permit at EP 25 prior to departure for the June 1 exit. Group of six - four of us in our late 50's.
cburton103
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06/03/2024 10:47PM  
plander: "Just completed a PP - Carp (EP) - Man Chain - Saganagons - Falls Chain - Wet - McEwen - Louisa - Sunday - PP - Moose EP 25 loop. Distance was 70 miles - single portaged. 6 nights/7 days with nights 4 and 5 on Louisa. Entered May 26. Exited June 1. The stretch between McEwen and Louisa was the most challenging for us - took about 9 hours with a few breaks. Tow from Latourell's to PP on day of entry and paddled out to EP 25 on day of exit. Filled out a day use permit at EP 25 prior to departure for the June 1 exit. Group of six - four of us in our late 50's."


Did you do any fishing? Any favorite lakes or campsites along the way? We enter Thursday for the same route.
06/04/2024 11:54AM  
cburton103: "
plander: "Just completed a PP - Carp (EP) - Man Chain - Saganagons - Falls Chain - Wet - McEwen - Louisa - Sunday - PP - Moose EP 25 loop. Distance was 70 miles - single portaged. 6 nights/7 days with nights 4 and 5 on Louisa. Entered May 26. Exited June 1. The stretch between McEwen and Louisa was the most challenging for us - took about 9 hours with a few breaks. Tow from Latourell's to PP on day of entry and paddled out to EP 25 on day of exit. Filled out a day use permit at EP 25 prior to departure for the June 1 exit. Group of six - four of us in our late 50's."



Did you do any fishing? Any favorite lakes or campsites along the way? We enter Thursday for the same route."


We stayed at the following sites - we had 5 tents (1-2P tents), 3 canoes, 6 people:

1. This Man Lake site 1S2 - plenty of tent pads - some up higher. Good fishing nearby - walleye, northern, bass, lakers.

2. Saganagons site 562 - island site - less than 1 mile past the Slate Lake portage. Several tent pads - some up higher. open and spacious. Nice site. Good fishing from camp - on shore/multiple rocks to fish from.

3. McEwen site 1T8 - small island. Not much to choose from on McEwen. Storm coming in so we chose quickly. We made it work. Better for 2-3 tents. Not much wood available, if any. Least favorite site of the trip. Did not fish McEwen much.

4. Louisa site 1JW - best site on trip. 5 star. We stayed two nights. Excellent trout fishing on Louisa. Portage to Agnes is steep - took two people to get boat down the steep parts.

5. Basswood site 14E - excellent large site - open but under red pines. Good fishing in Sunday Bay - northern, walleye, bass.

Meadows Lake is great for largemouth bass (last year info).

billconner
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06/04/2024 06:24PM  
We stayed a night on Glacier. Great site - 1RN - and have heard the one at the sw tip is good.
cburton103
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06/04/2024 08:35PM  
Wow, great information from both of you! Thank you a ton! We’re definitely shooting for 1RN on Glacier and the Hilton on Louisa. We’ll add the site on This Man you stayed on as our first stop of the trip, Pete.
rmiller
  
06/05/2024 08:42AM  
We are doing the same loop in a clockwise direction starting next Friday. Thanks everyone for all the great information provided in this thread. I'll add additional insights when we get back.
06/07/2024 05:14AM  
Did this route last fall on a solo

Tow to PP then night 1 was on Bell Lake
Night 2 on McEwen Lake
Night 3 was on Louisa
Night 4 was on Basswood, as I arrived at noon and had to wait till the next morning for my tow

Great route, McEwen chain was my favorite.
cburton103
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06/14/2024 01:14PM  
We got off the water yesterday from our Man Chain, Falls Chain to Wet/McEwen, McEwen Creek to Louisa and out through Poacher route.

The highlight for us (as fishermen) was the Man Chain. That, This, and Other Man were all worthy of spending a chunk of time. Fishing on the Falls Chain was fairly poor for some reason. Lots of small to medium smallies, and my buddy caught his personal best 27.5” walleye. But otherwise quality fish were few and far between while we fished our way up through the Four Falls/Bald Rock falls area and through Sidney.

I don’t know how I got it in my head that Glacier had lake trout - it almost certainly does not. We paddled the entire lake with a depth finder and never found a spot over 30’ deep. Lots of action for decent smallies and smallish pike. We enjoyed the 3 star camp there quite a bit. We also saw a bull moose enjoying an evening snack in McEwen Creek just downstream of the beaver dam pullover, which was certainly a highlight of the trip.

The smaller lakes along the McEwen creek were nice. I especially liked Turn, Edge and Rod. We had moderate luck with smallies and pike once again, and I also caught a decent largemouth bass through there as well.

The portage into Fauquier from Dumas is a doozy. Not overly long, but some very challenging footing since the portage follows close to the creek through a steep and rocky ravine. I had to take the canoe off several times through this section.

We enjoyed Louisa lake. We caught good numbers of lakers in mostly 15-30 feet of water spread throughout the lake. Interestingly, the MNR had two crews running gill nets in Louisa while we were there. We saw the float plane flying to drop off both crews as we paddled through Dumas and Fauquier and chatted with the crew at the end of the portage into Louisa. They’re apparently sampling a few of the larger lakes this year.

Heading out through Poacher Creek and Poacher was an interesting way to end the trip. The creek from Sunday to Poacher was an easy paddle (early June). Poacher was an attractive mid sized lake with similar laker fishing to Louisa - good action, smaller lakers. The 330 rod portage out was quite muddy/boggy, but was recently maintained. I probably prefer exiting through the North Portage over the Poacher route and the Singing Brook/Yellow Brick Road options, but it’s always neat to go a new way as well.

Bugs were quite active. Not quite as bad as last year, but certainly on the heavy end. We didn’t notice any bass on their beds throughout our trip surprisingly. Some lakes had beds with no fish on them, and some lakes we didn’t notice beds.
06/15/2024 07:58AM  
As a solo paddler (with dog) I often take the Poacher route to get to Louisa (avoiding wind and waves); I'd say it adds about an hour to the North Portage route. The creek to Sunday holds enough water to paddle even in dry seasons and the falls just before Sunday is very pretty when running well. Poacher Portage can be brutal if buggy. Dog prefers the hike. Louisa a favorite destination for a 2 or 3 night trip. Long day in, long day out, big beautiful lake that I rarely have to share.
cburton103
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06/15/2024 09:47AM  
It was buggy for sure on the Poacher portage a few days ago. I did enjoy getting to avoid some of the big water on Basswood. I can definitely see preferring the Poacher portage in dry conditions. Lots of nice deciduous trees on the portage as well, so I’m sure it would be gorgeous in late September.
danbogey
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06/28/2024 09:59AM  
Glad I saw this post. Just starting to plan a route in this area. I'm coming from Pittsburgh mid-September to do the "Man Chain" route. I am somewhat confused about the entry point and crossing into Canada. I solo and single portage. I've got roughly 7 days of paddling that I can do.

Can I paddle up Moose Lake or do I need a tow? What is the preferred route if I'm starting and ending on Moose Lake and go through the Man Chain? Long portages are fine with me.

I'll do a little fishing but photography is my primary activity when I'm out.
Thanks
Dan
06/28/2024 10:26AM  
danbogey: "Glad I saw this post. Just starting to plan a route in this area. I'm coming from Pittsburgh mid-September to do the "Man Chain" route. I am somewhat confused about the entry point and crossing into Canada. I solo and single portage. I've got roughly 7 days of paddling that I can do.


Can I paddle up Moose Lake or do I need a tow? What is the preferred route if I'm starting and ending on Moose Lake and go through the Man Chain? Long portages are fine with me.


I'll do a little fishing but photography is my primary activity when I'm out.
Thanks
Dan "


The tow to PP is nice on the first day as you get a head start. The details below are for a tow to PP and paddle out (no tow) to Moose EP 25.

Loop 1: PP - Carp - Man Chain - Saganagons - Falls Chain - McEwen - Louisa - Sunday - Basswood - Moose. About 70 miles total of which 6.4 miles is portaging (single). Portages between McEwen and Louisa aren't long but there are several and they can be somewhat challenging.

Loop 2: PP - Carp - Man Chain - Saganagons - Jasper - Ottertrack - Plough - Emerald - Birch - Moose. About 55 miles total of which 4 miles is portaging (single).

Either route requires a filled out day use permit in advance at the Moose EP 25 for your exit day - put into the day use box on day of entry.

On Loop 1 you would see less people and some nice falls, including Falls Chain and Louisa Falls.

Days are shorter in September. Sunset is 7:30ish or earlier.


billconner
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06/28/2024 06:16PM  
You can paddle Moose. I usually do. Often start in afternoon and camp near PP for an early Q entry.

Moose > Man Chain > Falls Chain > McEwen Chain > and through Lousia back to Moose is a terrific trip
06/30/2024 11:36AM  
danbogey: "Can I paddle up Moose Lake or do I need a tow? What is the preferred route if I'm starting and ending on Moose Lake and go through the Man Chain? Long portages are fine with me.

Thanks
Dan "


Looks like you have a 15 hour commute from home to Ely, so you'll probably enjoy some muscle-powered travel. After our two-day drive from western NC to Ely, we won't even consider a tow to PP.

TZ
billconner
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07/01/2024 06:25AM  
TrailZen: "
danbogey: "Can I paddle up Moose Lake or do I need a tow? What is the preferred route if I'm starting and ending on Moose Lake and go through the Man Chain? Long portages are fine with me.


Thanks
Dan "



Looks like you have a 15 hour commute from home to Ely, so you'll probably enjoy some muscle-powered travel. After our two-day drive from western NC to Ely, we won't even consider a tow to PP.


TZ"


+1
07/01/2024 09:55PM  
plander: "
danbogey:
Loop 2: PP - Carp - Man Chain - Saganagons - Jasper - Ottertrack - Plough - Emerald - Birch - Moose. About 55 miles total of which 4 miles is portaging (single).
"

We did this loop last year except went from Ottertrack - Knife - Crawford - Carp - Birch - tow back. You can see it in Trip Reports titled " Cousins In Quetico" that I posted last Nov.
It was a very leisurely 10 days though closer to 65 miles because we tripled portaged.
Going this way give you a chance to walk up to Thunder Point on Knife. Well worth the (short) hike up the hill.
danbogey
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07/02/2024 08:14AM  
One more Question. My Wabakimi and BWCA trips are always in August. This year, I may have to push this to around the 20th of September. Do any of you go that late and are there any issues e.g. outfitters closing ...

again, thanks!!
07/02/2024 09:01AM  
I got towed out by LaTourell's on October 2 last year. You should be fine.
billconner
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07/02/2024 06:52PM  
danbogey: "One more Question. My Wabakimi and BWCA trips are always in August. This year, I may have to push this to around the 20th of September. Do any of you go that late and are there any issues e.g. outfitters closing ...


again, thanks!! "


My son and I came out on October 31st one year. Canoe Country Outfitters last customer that year. I don't know if they were offering tows then - we paddled through flurries.
 
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