BWCA Winter entry points Boundary Waters Winter Camping and Activities
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TuscaroraBorealis
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11/09/2010 09:18PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
Does anyone know if the road up to Homer & Brule lake is kept open (plowed) in the winter?
 
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Merlin
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11/09/2010 10:06PM  
I don't think it is. At least it wasn't the winter of 08-09.
WalleyeDundee
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11/10/2010 10:10PM  
I'm not sure, but am wondering if anyone knows of a website (or other info source) that indicates which entry points are kept open/plowed in the winter. This is pretty important when winter trip planning.
TuscaroraBorealis
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11/10/2010 10:32PM  
I would think that most EP's you'd be able to access them at essentially the same spot as in the summer?

The possible exceptions I can think of....
- the lakes already mentioned
- those EP's accessed by the Tomahawk road. Isabella & the river accesses.
- Kawishiwi lake & Hog Creek
- Morgan, Ram, & Bower Trout

Most of the rest you should be able to park your vehicle where you would've in the summer. Just instead of paddling & portaging you'd be skiing or snowshoeing with a backpack or sled.

TB
11/11/2010 01:01AM  
I'm thinking DOG SLED! WOOOT!
Merlin
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11/11/2010 04:39PM  
quote TuscaroraBorealis: "I would think that most EP's you'd be able to access them at essentially the same spot as in the summer?


The possible exceptions I can think of....
- the lakes already mentioned
- those EP's accessed by the Tomahawk road. Isabella & the river accesses.
- Kawishiwi lake & Hog Creek
- Morgan, Ram, & Bower Trout


Most of the rest you should be able to park your vehicle where you would've in the summer. Just instead of paddling & portaging you'd be skiing or snowshoeing with a backpack or sled.


TB"


Unfortunately that is not the case. Very few of the lots and access points are plowed. Parking is the issue.
inspector13
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11/11/2010 05:19PM  
I would call Sawbill Outfitters. They probably know which of the forest roads are plowed in that area, and how often.
TuscaroraBorealis
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11/11/2010 07:12PM  
quote Merlin: "quote TuscaroraBorealis: "I would think that most EP's you'd be able to access them at essentially the same spot as in the summer?



The possible exceptions I can think of....
- the lakes already mentioned
- those EP's accessed by the Tomahawk road. Isabella & the river accesses.
- Kawishiwi lake & Hog Creek
- Morgan, Ram, & Bower Trout



Most of the rest you should be able to park your vehicle where you would've in the summer. Just instead of paddling & portaging you'd be skiing or snowshoeing with a backpack or sled.



TB"



Unfortunately that is not the case. Very few of the lots and access points are plowed. Parking is the issue. "


I know many of EP's are served by resorts or outfitters who are open year 'round. (Many along the Fernberg & Gunflint trails + Sawbill outfitters) Most are located very near the "official" entry points. Perhaps you would have to pay them a fee for parking? Should still have access to all those lakes.

Also there are several lakes that have cabins on them that will quite obviously be plowed. Vermilion, Burntside, McFarland, Gunflint, Clearwater, East & West Bearskin, Seagull, Saganaga.

I would say it's safe to say that most of those will be accessible.

Besides those already mentioned. Perhaps a few along the Echo trail would be tough? But I've read several accounts of people going up through the Moose river or Angleworm so I think that area can be accessed as well.

I'll be bringing a shovel anyways. If I can get that close (Echo Trail) I'll just make my own spot on the road to the EP. Can't imagine there's gonna be much if any competition for parking spots?

Banksiana
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11/11/2010 11:57PM  
Parking areas at Angleworm and Hegman are plowed. Moose river is not, though usually there are a couple of parking spaces carved out where the road meets the Echo.
Arlo Pankook
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11/12/2010 09:21AM  
We camped on Angleworm two years ago and when we came out (at 2:00pm) they had not plowed the Echo which had 12" of snow on it. We made it out with 4 wheel drive but it took them two days before the Echo was cleared. Parking and cleared roads often dictate our winter camping trips. Not to mention bad ice, current areas, and slushy lakes. I can think of only a handful of entry points where winter access is easy and guaranteed.
TuscaroraBorealis
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11/12/2010 10:22AM  
I realize entry in the winter won't be as easy as in the summer. Snow conditions, slush, bad ice etc. can obviously drastically hinder a trip.

The jist of my question towards entry points was this. Are the roads open as to where you could drive up to the trail or the lake where you normally would in the summer? Or at least close enough as to not add an exorbitant amount of extra travel time.

When I say I believe that many are accessible. This is my train of thought.

For example: I realize the parking lots on Round lake & the Cross river (Missing Link, Brandt, & Cross Bay lake EP's) will likely not be plowed. But, Tuscarora outfitters is open all winter. You could access the 3 EP's from there & not add too much, if any, travel time to your trip. I'm sure you'd have to pay a fee for parking? But that wouldn't be the straw that broke the camels back for me.

As I already mentioned, several EP's are served by resorts or outfitters that stay open in the winter & this same line of thinking would apply to them.

Granted snow & ice conditions may not be ideal? Maybe a blizzard hits? Perhaps a call to said resort before a trip to ensure good conditions would be in order? But I think, conditions aside, you'd be able to access these areas.

I would say that because people actually live on the Fernberg, Gunflint, Arrowhead, & Sawbill trails, that they would all get plowed like any other highway or road. That fact alone opens up many. Now the Echo, Tomahawk, and especially the longer spur roads I wouldn't think get the same attention.

Other than the ones mentioned already. I would like to hear from others who have actually experienced not being able to access an EP in normal (non-blizzard) conditions.

TB
TuscaroraBorealis
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12/15/2010 10:23PM  
Just attended a seminar at Midwest Mountaineering about winter BWCAW entry points. While nothing was written in stone, the following provides an excellent guideline for which entry points you'd be able to access and park your vehicle in essentially the same area as you would in the summer.

To me it would be easiest to tell which EP's are NOT accessible. This is not to say you absolutely cannot enter at these locations. But there will likely be no parking and a significantly greater distance to travel from your vehicle.

Essentially the south side starting at EP #32 South Kawishiwi running all the way east then north to EP #45 Morgan lake are NOT accessible. The lone exception being EP #38 Sawbill lake. This includes the following EP's. 32,33,84,75,67,34,35,36,37,39,40,41,43,44,&45.

There are a few along the Echo trail as well. But most have parking just off the Echo trail & the county somewhat fans out parking lots at those. Moose river & Mudro are a couple of exceptions. But apparently Meander lake road is kept open? So access to Moose river can be had through there.

Those found along the Fernberg, Gunflint, & Arrowhead trails all get plowed. (Not necessarily because of BWCA but because people live along those roads) Also there are resorts/outfitters who stay open year 'round who you can call for current conditions parking fees etc. For example: Poplar lake boat ramp is not plowed. But you can park at the outfitter(s) and access those EP's from there.

Trout lake EP#1 & Crab lake EP#4 are accessible from where they would be in the summer. But keep in mind you would have to cross large expanses of non-wilderness lakes to get to the actual entry point. Although you could be able to get a tow across Vermilion or Burntside with a snowmobile.

A few other notes. Snowbank & Moose lakes are the main starting points for the dogsleds that run out of Ely. So there will surely be trails blazed from those lakes. Also there will be far more snowmobile traffic/noise on the Gunflint side. The Kekekabic hiking trailhead lot on the Gunflint side is plowed as well.

Hope this helps?
TB




Arlo Pankook
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12/16/2010 08:07AM  
Good summary, thanks.
12/16/2010 09:01AM  
Hey TB, I was going to say Hi last night, but you took off too quick. :) I really enjoyed the presentation, and learned a lot. Great summary.
TuscaroraBorealis
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12/16/2010 09:21AM  
quote Soledad: "Hey TB, I was going to say Hi last night, but you took off too quick. :) I really enjoyed the presentation, and learned a lot. Great summary."

Sorry I missed you.
Merlin
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12/16/2010 04:34PM  
Thanks for taking the time to report TB. Its very much appreciated.
TuscaroraBorealis
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12/21/2010 10:23AM  
Also. Little Vermilion could be accessed via the Herriman lake trails.
TuscaroraBorealis
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01/14/2011 07:11AM  
bump
Tryg
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01/14/2011 08:41PM  
East Bearskin Public Access is not plowed.

Never has been.
Tryg
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01/14/2011 08:48PM  
Maybe I should be helpful.

Bower Trout, Morgan, and Ram - Get a snowmobile.

East Bearskin - Public Access is part of the Central Gunflint Ski System, not plowed. There is a place to park about a mile from the landing, but I think you need a ski pass to get on the trails to the lake.

Clearwater - Free, clear, plowed all the time.

West Bearskin (Duncan, Daniels) - Free and clear.

Poplar (lizz, Meeds, Swamp, etc.) Not plowed, not worth it.

Gunflint (south lake) - You can start at the public landing on Gunflint or go in at Topper by Mayhew if you're willing to hike. You can cram a car in there.

Round lake and Cross Bay - Sometimes a parking spot is plowed where the forest service road meets the Round lake Road. Call Tusc.

Seagull - Always plowed with great access.

Sag - Same as seagull.
motdur
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01/14/2011 10:19PM  
quote Tryg: "Maybe I should be helpful.


Bower Trout, Morgan, and Ram - Get a snowmobile.


East Bearskin - Public Access is part of the Central Gunflint Ski System, not plowed. There is a place to park about a mile from the landing, but I think you need a ski pass to get on the trails to the lake.


Clearwater - Free, clear, plowed all the time.


West Bearskin (Duncan, Daniels) - Free and clear.


Poplar (lizz, Meeds, Swamp, etc.) Not plowed, not worth it.


Gunflint (south lake) - You can start at the public landing on Gunflint or go in at Topper by Mayhew if you're willing to hike. You can cram a car in there.


Round lake and Cross Bay - Sometimes a parking spot is plowed where the forest service road meets the Round lake Road. Call Tusc.


Seagull - Always plowed with great access.


Sag - Same as seagull."


Tryg...Very helpful! Do you know if McFarland access off the Arrowhead Trail is plowed?
TuscaroraBorealis
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01/24/2011 05:23PM  
motdur,

The McFarland access down to the lake to the official BWCA kiosk is NOT plowed. But there is a cleared parking lot with room for about a dozen vehicles just before the bridge that crosses the stream running between McFarland & Little John lakes. Which serves all the entry points in this immediate area.

From there to the McFarland boat ramp....Figure about an extra 300 yards or so of walking?

The Arrowhead trail is plowed all the way just past the bridge mentioned above. Driving sensibly any vehicle will be able to make it there.

Just got back from a trip to Pine. There was a snowmobile trail running all the way to Pine. But it was snowing & blowing pretty good when we left so that likely will be blown over?

By the way. We encountered NO slush on either McFarland or Pine.

TB

SevenofNine
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01/25/2011 07:42AM  
Welcome back TB. Thanks for the information. Looking forward to a trip report to hear how thins went and what worked or didn't work?
motdur
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01/25/2011 12:15PM  
quote TuscaroraBorealis: "motdur,


The McFarland access down to the lake to the official BWCA kiosk is NOT plowed. But there is a cleared parking lot with room for about a dozen vehicles just before the bridge that crosses the stream running between McFarland & Little John lakes. Which serves all the entry points in this immediate area.


From there to the McFarland boat ramp....Figure about an extra 300 yards or so of walking?


The Arrowhead trail is plowed all the way just past the bridge mentioned above. Driving sensibly any vehicle will be able to make it there.


Just got back from a trip to Pine. There was a snowmobile trail running all the way to Pine. But it was snowing & blowing pretty good when we left so that likely will be blown over?


By the way. We encountered NO slush on either McFarland or Pine.


TB


"


TB...Hope you had a good trip. Thanks for the info.
TuscaroraBorealis
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09/29/2011 07:51PM  
bump
OBX2Kayak
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09/29/2011 08:54PM  
TB -- Thanks for the bump. This is one of the best sources of winter EP info on the net.
TuscaroraBorealis
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02/10/2012 01:52PM  
bump
ArrowheadPaddler
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02/10/2012 06:20PM  
I agree, this is a great resource for winter entry point info. Along these same lines, in the winter are you required to enter the BWCA at a designated entry point, or could you snowshoe/ski in anywhere you please?
Beaverjack
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02/10/2012 07:00PM  
How's the ice? South Michigan is void of good ice (and ice fishing).
TuscaroraBorealis
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02/10/2012 08:55PM  
quote ArrowheadPaddler: "I agree, this is a great resource for winter entry point info. Along these same lines, in the winter are you required to enter the BWCA at a designated entry point, or could you snowshoe/ski in anywhere you please?"

You are required to enter at the EP. But there is no quota so no need to reserve a permit. Thus you are free to enter wherever & whenever you like, as long as you fill out the permit provided at the EP kiosk to make it legal. Also you are free to camp wherever you like. You are not required to stay only at designated sites.
TuscaroraBorealis
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02/10/2012 09:00PM  
quote Beaverjack: "How's the ice? South Michigan is void of good ice (and ice fishing)."

Just got back from a trip.

There was only about a foot and 1/2 of good ice. Even less in some areas.
ArrowheadPaddler
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02/10/2012 09:04PM  
Quote: "You are required to enter at the EP."

Thanks TuscaroraB.
02/11/2012 08:23PM  
Past years Brule was not plowed.
ArrowheadPaddler
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02/16/2012 08:11AM  
Although it sounds like Bower Trout is not accessible, anyone know if you can make it to East Twin/West Twin Lakes just outside that same region of the BWCA?
Thanks.
inspector13
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02/16/2012 11:52AM  
quote ArrowheadPaddler: "Although it sounds like Bower Trout is not accessible, anyone know if you can make it to East Twin/West Twin Lakes just outside that same region of the BWCA?
Thanks. "


I’m pretty sure that road (Lima Grade) is not a through road and you have to go past Bower Trout to get to there. Usually those roads are only plowed if people live there or there is logging going on. So I doubt it. Maybe the people at Trail Center would know for sure.

TuscaroraBorealis
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02/16/2012 12:14PM  
My understanding was that it is not plowed. But you could take a snowmobile down that road up to the wilderness boundary if you have your heart set on entering there.
ArrowheadPaddler
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02/16/2012 05:41PM  
quote TuscaroraBorealis: "My understanding was that it is not plowed. But you could take a snowmobile down that road up to the wilderness boundary if you have your heart set on entering there."

Yeah, I just took a look at the Minnesota All Outdoors Atlas, and the Lima Grade is listed as a snowmobile trail all the way down to the southern intersection with Ball Club Rd. I guess that's more evidence to put the entire road in the not plowed category. I was wondering if you could access the road from the south, but it looks like that isn't an option without a snowmobile or a long ski.

Thanks TB and Isp13 for the input.
TuscaroraBorealis
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09/12/2012 08:08AM  
Back to the top.
Minnesotian
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09/12/2012 08:52PM  

Excellent. Getting to be that time of year!
Minnesotian
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12/14/2012 08:23AM  
Bump
Arlo Pankook
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12/14/2012 10:41AM  
quote Arceneaux: "Anybody here ever snowmobiled in to the Ram lake EP from the Lima Grade or any of the other forest roads that hook up with it?"

Great question, I have thought of doing this too.
tonyyarusso
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12/14/2012 11:10AM  
Let me tell you, the country guys with their giant pickup trucks gave me some VERY quizzical looks when I drove one of these through the snow across Vermilion to get to the Trout Lake EP...
1990 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency
12/14/2012 12:57PM  
quote Arlo Pankook: "quote Arceneaux: "Anybody here ever snowmobiled in to the Ram lake EP from the Lima Grade or any of the other forest roads that hook up with it?"


Great question, I have thought of doing this too. "


Knowing the local people love for trout fishing,I am sure they do.
Arlo Pankook
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12/14/2012 02:37PM  
If I remember right though, the portage down to Ram would be steep and challenging in winter. I'm sure there is an easier way down/up?
h20
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12/15/2012 12:36AM  
quote inspector13: "I would call Sawbill Outfitters. They probably know which of the forest roads are plowed in that area, and how often.
"
Good advice. Somebody at sawbill will give you the scoop.
TuscaroraBorealis
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12/20/2012 03:54PM  
From here forward, any updated information about winter access will be found on the - Winter Access Entry Points - thread by Minnesotian which is pinned to the top of this forum page.
 
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