BWCA Range Line lake ??????? Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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distinguished member (168)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/28/2006 11:15AM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
I am always looking for an adventure, the lake that hasn't been visited or at least not that much. I came accross Range Line Lake. No portages except for a hiking trail (I believe its the Hula trail) and it is a dead end. It has no info on the DNR Lakefinder site except for an old map which shows great depth and structure with islands, bays and reefs. I could find no info on this site or any others except for a small passage from a hiker who made it in there and stayed on or near the lake. It looks good on paper. Has anyone been there or heard anything about Range Line before I start my new spring adventure??????
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11/28/2006 12:02PM  
Maybe Benutzer will answer. He went back in there in Late August of this past year with his son. They went in in kayaks and actually made it all the way to Pageant. I remember him saying it was difficult but doable. It was not a walk in the park though. If you don't hear from him see if his e-mail address is on his member profile.
11/28/2006 12:48PM  
There is some info on the Earl Rook site:

It says it is on the Sioux Hustler Trail.

distinguished member (168)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/28/2006 12:58PM  
Thanks Bannock, I was wrong on the trail name. It still remains a mystery I hope Benutzer has some info. It looks like it should be a dynamite lake but who knows.
11/28/2006 04:05PM  

When this spring are you planning on heading thru there?

Me and two other guys are going to head south to north across the Weeney Lake PMA this spring.
We have actually been able to find quite a bit of info on the area. There's at least four guys that have made it in there with canoes.
distinguished member (168)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
11/28/2006 11:53PM  
I am planning on early June but have to confirm with my buddy. Did you receive any info from the four that made it in there?? Any fish???
11/29/2006 06:44AM  
Hi Moheep!

Yeah, I've been pretty slack about getting my trip report up. Hopefully will get some time to post it over the holidays. I know Bogs has been patiently waiting to see it.

As he said, Range Line is reachable, although it's not a trip for everyone.

I've heard that the best way to get there is through Yodeler, and that was our original plan, but we thought we'd stick closer to the PMA and try going up the Hustler River through Posse. Bad idea. What made it a bit worse for us was the low water level in late August. Might be better luck in June, but for us, you could erase almost anything blue on the map that was smaller than Posse. Posse itself was difficult to recognize because the low water changed the shape of the lake, so we had to navigate by the topo lines more than anything else.

It took us a day to get from Emerald to Lucky Finn, and we were setting up camp very close to dark. That was the longest, hardest day I've ever had in the BW. I should really make it clear that we were worn out, beat up and bloody by the end of that day. I'm a triathlete and my son is a Marine and it pushed us pretty hard. We were inches from turning around at a couple of points.

Yodeler-Achundo should be a bit easier way to go, though take the word "easier" with a grain of salt. I can't give details on that way, but one thing to be aware of is that due to the lack of traffic, the number of deadfalls is greatly increased, and the beaver have an opportunity to really make some incredible obstacle courses.

We navigated those with 9.5' kayaks and were really glad we weren't trying to force a 17' canoe through the area.

We used the Sioux Hustler Trail as a portage, and it was sheer heaven if you don't have problems with 2 mile+ portages. Compared to the Hustler Swamp, er... River, we were ecstatic to be on it. It's a beautiful trail, and we plan on going back next year just to hike it.

We stuffed ourselves on pike at Range Line. 22.5" was our best, although we didn't fish long so I'm sure there's plenty more. We trolled for them, but you can literally sit right there at the fire and cast.

If you get there, take the time to hike down and see the 3 Sentinels, which is about a mile and a half down the SHT from Range Line.

Upon arrival at Range Line.

Cooking up some pike.

Sioux Hustler Trail between Range Line and the 3 Sentinels.
Guest Paddler
11/29/2006 11:18AM  
Benutzer I have a bunch of respect for you!!! Thanks for posting that and the photos!! I have to be honest, you have me worried a bit. A triathlete and a marine struggling?? That says a lot. The adventure is what it is about in the end. I have a few questions. Is the SHT in good shape?? How wide? Could you use portage wheels? Did you fish for anything but NP. Did it look like many people had been in the area? Thanks again for posting. You are the MAN
11/29/2006 11:57AM  
Thanks Benutzer-you are right I am looking forward to the report, but this description of your time getting to Range Line is a great teazer!

Moheep-I can answer one question. Portage wheels would be illegal assuming anyone one was around to catch you.

Knowing parts of the Sioux Hustler from past hikes I would doubt portage wheels would be much use anyways as there are sections that are pretty good, but there also lots of rocks, obstacles etc which would probably make portage wheels more work then they are worth.

Respect the rules and leave the portage wheels home-they would not be much help and you would end up carrying them more then using them anyway.
11/29/2006 12:09PM  
The SHT is in great shape in the area around Range Line, and looked to have been very recently maintained. It was not quite so well maintained near Emerald, or at least the part of it which we explored while we were in that area.

The trail is a bit narrower than most portages. You would definitely not want portage wheels though. Take a look at the topography around Pageant Creek to the west of Range Line, and realize that the trail crosses that. It's definitely designed for hiking rather than portaging. When I was planning the trip, I compared that area to the Devil's Cascade area.

It looks like it wouldn't be difficult to go around, but in reality that was actually the easier way to go due to the obstacles and swampy ground on the other side. The number of trees downed by beaver and wind/time combined with the difficulty of finding dry ground required us to carefully choose every step. Picture a channel that you can step across, but if you slip, you go down in 3-7' of water. We both went swimming unexpectedly. With the leeches, by the way.

Hoping this picture comes out so you can get an idea. - This was one of the easier places off the trail. I'm standing on my pack, which is in the seat of my kayak, and trying to pole along as well as test the ground.

Note that you can't tell the difference between wet or dry ground. The hill to the left is too steep to go over, and the trees up ahead are a good 30-40 minutes away at the current rate of travel. If I remember correctly, we ran out of navigable (this part IS navigable as far as we were concerned) water shortly after this, and worked our way to the base of the hill and cut across to the tree line. The grass, by the way, I named "razorgrass" because we were covered with small cuts from working our way through areas like this.

Needless to say, we encountered nobody else during this part of the trip. Never saw anyone else on the SHT either. My understanding is that a boat touches Range Line maybe once or twice a decade, for fairly good reason.

We didn't really fish for anything other than pike. Just threw a couple of shad raps out while we paddled and explored the lake a bit and took 4 pike within 20 minutes or so. Neither my son or I are what I'd call "fishermen", so someone with more skill might catch something else.

I'm not sure of your level of experience, so I don't know if it's a trip to recommend. For my son and I it was an incredible journey, but we thrive on challenges and are the type that enjoy paddling in the rain, if that means anything to you. My other son did not accompany us on this trip because even though he also likes challenges, he would not have enjoyed the hardships. There's a fine line between an adventure and a painful experience sometimes. ;-)

As an example - we exited at EP 14 and the car was at EP 16. My son ran the 7 miles to go get it while I brought the boats and packs up. He was back in about an hour and a quarter, and had stopped to chat with some bear hunters on the way. We went that way because we believe it was much easier to do the ~2.5 - 3 mile double portage (7-9 miles total) to Loon and the run, rather than the bushwhacking.
distinguished member(6585)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
11/29/2006 12:29PM  

What are the "3 Sentinels"?

Guest Paddler
11/29/2006 01:12PM  
Copy that Bog, did not know the portage wheels would be illegal. I do not own any but was suggested to me from fellow tripper. The long way makes the adventure anyway. I wish I knew more about the fishing situation. The last time I did this type of trip which was Jig lake a couple years ago I busted butt in there and caught 100 NP all 2 lbs or less. Range Line looks too good on paper to be that type of lake thats what peaked my interest. I will take Benutzer advice and take the Yodeler-Achundo route because Acundo looks interesting too.
11/29/2006 01:59PM  
The 3 Sentinels are 200+ year old white pines that are standing alongside the Sioux-Hustler trail. There are other old growth trees in the area, but these are standing right there together. One of the 3 is now dead, so I suppose it will be the 2 Sentinels sometime sooner rather than later.

Picture does not do it justice.

11/29/2006 02:38PM  
There's a map of the SHT on this site. and an interesting trip report. Day 3 is the interesting one for the Range Line area.

You'll notice though, that the SHT doesn't go anywhere near Yodeler or Achundo.
11/29/2006 03:49PM  
Wow Benutzer!
Thats a ton of good info. We were thinking of checking out the Hustler River on the way out. Looks like that would be a waste of time.
Did you guys make it to Pageant? Did either Pageant or Rangeline Creeks look navigable?



My group is attemting it in mid May. I'll let you know how we fare. If you do a search on CCBB you will find more info on fishing and the Yodeler Achundo route.
11/29/2006 04:41PM  
The picture above, where you can't see the water, is the Hustler River. Water was at a low level when we were there, but I'm not sure it would be very good even when it's higher. Maybe in kayaks like we had. But I'd definitely consider an alternate route.

Yes, we made it to Pageant, and then took the SHT to the Heritage-Loon portage and out to Loon. That was a very long double portage (the 7-9 mile one I referred to above). Pageant Creek was not navigable at all. Range Line Creek (from Lucky Finn) was not navigable the full way, however after doing the Hustler River the day before, we were surprised that we were able to paddle more of it than expected. At a different time of year with higher water, it's likely navigable almost the full distance.

If you're going to hang out in the Weeny Lake PMA, one of the things to be aware of is that it gets VERY little traffic. I believe there was only one other party that had reserved a night or two this past August. The problem with that is that no downed trees get used up as firewood. We had some difficulty finding places to set up camp due to that. You might want to consider doing what we did, and bring hammocks and a tarp. When there's no unobstructed ground, you can still use them. We actually only set the tent up for a couple nights out of the 10 we were there. I also lit no fires in the PMA due to the excessive kindling on the ground. We just used the stove to cook on.

Charm Lake (in the NE corner of the PMA) had some pretty aggressive pike, although smaller than the ones at Range Line. My son caught one on his first cast and another 3 casts later. Mepps spinner if I remember correctly. It was an easy bushwhack from Gebe.

To be honest though, there's no advantage to bringing the boats into that area, and plenty of reason not to. That's one reason we're planning to go back and just hike the trail. We do enjoy the challenge, but I think the extra effort required does take away from the ability to relax and enjoy the area a bit. Something to think about anyway.

I don't know for sure, but I'm tentatively hoping to be hiking the trail late April, early May (between snow and bugs), so it's possible we'll cross paths.
11/29/2006 05:49PM  
Thanks for all the info Benutzer!

I figure if we do ok with the long bushwhack from Yodeler to Achundo we should be good to go. We are planning on continuing north from Pageant thru Contentment and Brigand to Thumb.
I was hoping that Pageant Creek would be high enough in May that we could put in at the SHT north of RL and make it into Pageant that way. If not I guess we will just have to continue on the SHT all the way to Pageant.
If you see three guys in a tandem and a solo be sure to say hi!

Thanks again,
11/29/2006 06:46PM  
That was our original plan, to go through Contentment, etc, but we chose to portage over to Loon to save some time. We'd lost a lot of time paddling in heavy wind (the remnants of hurricaine Ernesto and the tornado in Duluth was during the time we were there).

Yeah, plan on using the SHT all the way between Range Line and Pageant, which is around 1.5 - 2 miles. My GPS said it was a bit longer than they say in the brochure. You might get lucky with the creek, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Actually, if I recall, from RL to Pageant would be upstream and relatively steep (at the crossing at least). But the trail itself is gorgeous, so it's worth it to walk the extra distance.
Guest Paddler
11/30/2006 10:34AM  
Beavers good luck and send a report. Please spend some time on the lake if you can and see if there are any Smallies or Walleyes lurking. Thanks to Benutzer for all the details and again congrats for getting in there. Its fun to hear trip details from someone who loves to go where no one has gone. To me thats whats its all about.
11/30/2006 03:57PM  

I'll be sure to let you know it turned out when we get back. I won't be able to give you a fishing report though. On a bushwhack like that every ounce counts. There is no way I'm going to haul in fishing gear with me. ;)

Thanks again for all the info Benutzer!

BTW- I'm just amazed that a topic on a lake like Rangeline has 19 responses!
Guest Paddler
12/01/2006 12:43AM  
I was surprised too, but I think its great we have some hardcore folks on this site !! It really doesn't get more obscur than Range Line.
12/01/2006 07:28AM  
I'm surprised that more people haven't tried to go there. Yes it's difficult, but there's a lot of things about that area that are nice as well. When I originally decided to go there, it was because I wanted to give myself a route that offered scenery, solitude, a challenge, and had many options of re-routing the trip on the fly in case we bit off more than we could chew. But then again, I suppose it's because it really is better as a hiking trip than a paddling trip.

One thing I should mention, that I didn't before. We found it incredibly handy to bring the GPS, if for no other reason than to mark the location of the boats and gear. We spent a LOT of time dropping the boats and gear, and then scouting a path ahead to avoid having to backtrack around impassible areas. Knowing we could find the boats easily again allowed us to scout a bit further than we would have otherwise.
12/02/2006 05:05PM  
Some friends and I are planning to go there in June, and we were all wondering "Who put a post on Range Line Lake" up on the boards? We thought one of the others did it. lol.

It turns out that NONE of us did, but we now have a lot more info on the area. Thanks guys.

(from someone who is tired of lurking)
12/02/2006 05:24PM  
Geez...and I thought that Rangeline was some remote out of the way lake that no one ever went to. ;)
12/02/2006 05:27PM  
Welcome aboard Amok!
12/02/2006 05:42PM  
that's why we planned on going there!
(ok, plan on going there)
and ty adam :)
Guest Paddler
12/02/2006 08:52PM  
Amok, drop a line in there and see what comes up will ya??
12/02/2006 09:51PM  
DEFINATELY! Hope that there is more in there than NP, but we'll see.
member (26)member
12/03/2006 02:16AM  
I'm one of the guys going with Amok and we will definitely be fishing that lake hard.
We chose that lake because of the remoteness of it and on paper it looks like it should be a good fishing lake. What dates do you plan on going in early June? since that's the same time frame we were looking at(May 29th - June 9th), I would rather work around your dates than one of us getting there before the other and have the other party make the trip all the way there only to have to turn around and find a new camp.

distinguished member(909)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
12/03/2006 09:50AM  
Just a note on three sentinels that we came across on the Sioux Hustler Trail a few years back. Also, this picture does not do them justice, and I suspect they aren't the same huge trees that Benutzer describes, but they were being killed by a beaver dam that had flooded their root system. We were able to access the S. H. Trail by canoe by "blue lining" up the Heritage Creek from East Loon Bay; Although I only recommend it for those who like bushwhacking.
Guest Paddler
12/03/2006 11:58AM  
Crash, you will beat me in there. Looks like my buddy will have to wait until last week of June. Has has an Elk Ranch and that is breeding season with no help this year. I hope you guys can get some live bait in there and see if there is Wally's lurking. The structure is some good stuff and the depth is plenty to hold some big fish. Achundo looks interesting too. Good luck and send a report.
member (26)member
12/03/2006 02:23PM  
We will definitely let you know how the fishing and bushwhacking goes.
12/03/2006 06:31PM  
We are going to bring in some leeches and maybe a few minnows. We'll let you know how it goes.

It's a relief to know that we're not all going to be there at once. lol. For a place that rarely sees a boat, it's going to be busy next June!
12/03/2006 06:34PM  
oh, and we plan on doing some hiking while we're there too, so that trail info is great!
12/04/2006 07:32AM  
There's another SHT hiking trip report here that I found pretty helpful and interesting.
12/04/2006 10:45PM  
That's interesting Benutzer. TY!

But... the "brochure" says that the canoe campsite is on the islands. I thought that was an unofficial campsite. (no fire grate/etc.)
12/05/2006 06:52AM  
I believe there was some confusion as to whether Range Line is in the PMA or not, or they may have been a change in the boundaries at one point. If you go by the Weeny Lake PMA boundaries shown on the site, it's easy to see how one would think it is.

However, Range Line is not in the Weeny Lake PMA. Upper Range Line is. The Forest Service has maps, but this is what I show:
Weeny Lake PMA
Section 1 - Contentment, Brigand, Nahimana, Lucky Finn, Upper Range Line.
Section 2 - Charm, Mantle
Section 3 - Posse
Section 4 - Hag, Weeny

Outside the PMA are Thumb, Finger, Gebe, Green, Rocky, Oyster, Hustler, Yodeler, Range Line, Pageant.

If I recall, there may be one or two older sites that may or may not be maintained that are shown on different maps. I don't believe any were on the island. The site on the point in the northeast corner of the map that faces the 3 islands is the currently maintained site. And it's fun to cast from the campfire anyway. ;-)
05/28/2007 10:22PM  
We made it!!!!!!! :)

Three of us made the trip, me in my cedarstrip solo, and the other two guys in a MN II.
We bushwhacked north from Lynx into Yodeler, to Achundo to Rangline to Pageant to Brigand to Contentment and out at Thumb.
It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, and the most rewarding!

Achundo Lake

Bushwhacking into Rangeline Lake

Rangeline Lake

The "Portage" into Brigand
The Crew on Brigand Lake

(L-R Old Rookie, Marques, Beavers)
05/28/2007 11:17PM  


and congratulations! Glad you made it!

My group has gone from 4 down to 2, so we may daytrip into it but we're not going to haul all our stuff in.
05/29/2007 06:14AM  
Oh yeah, the fishing....

One of the guys trolled around Rangeline for about an hour and came up with three 20" northern. I think everybody was too pooped out to try much fishing on the other lakes.
05/29/2007 07:08AM  
SWEET!!! Congratulations!

trip report... trip report...

I hear ya on the "too pooped" to fish. It says something when you're too worn out to sit and hold a fishing pole.

Did you have time to do any exploring around the area, walk down the Sioux-Hustler at all? I'm assuming you used it to get to Pageant.

I bet Pageant to Brigand was a gorgeous area. The pics look like it is.

Where did you end up making camp?
distinguished member (168)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/29/2007 09:59AM  
Beaver..... I raise a glass to you!! Congrats thats a huge accomplishment. Great photos. The one thing I thought while looking at them was, wow that must have sucked having to wear those jackets bushwhacking in there. You must have been sweating buckets. Memories for a lifetime. I hope someone is able to bring in some leeches and see if there is anything hugging the bottom is that lake.
05/29/2007 06:00PM  
Thanks for the congrats guys!
I'm still riding the high.... :)

We camped the first night on Rangline, second night on Pageant and pushed on to Finger after that.

We did haul the packs down the SHT to the campsite on Pageant and then decided to bushwhack the canoes down the creek into Pageant.

Good luck to everyone else headed there this year!
If you make it to Brigand check out the old campsite and continue the tradition! ;)

Now...time to start planning the next bushwhack, it is addicting!
member (37)member
02/02/2022 03:19PM  
To the two gentlemen that did the bushwack from brigand into pageant, do you have any insight on the obstacles I will be facing? Debating whether my group should give it a go. We did the S-HT from Hustler into pageant but didn't take the canoes with us. We are going to try to make it from thumb down to pageant, exiting out heritage.
Really interested in this trip but don't want to bite off more than I can chew.
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