What’s your favorite lake in the BWCA?

Bill Hansen, owner of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, portages between Sawbill Lake and Alton Lake Wednesday, May 2nd in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

“The Boundary Waters Canoe Area begins accepting online reservations for the summer season Wednesday,” reports the Associated Press.

The 1.1-million acre Boundary Waters is America’s most visited wilderness area, attracting 250,000 visitors annually.

The Recreation.gov website begins accepting BWCA reservations on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Ely-based outfitter Steve Piragis says the day will be particularly important for groups that want specific entry points or entry days. But he says people who don’t want to plan so far ahead will still have access to hundreds of permits throughout the season, via the website and from outfitters.

Some permits for certain popular entry points were awarded by lottery last week.

Today’s Question: What’s your favorite lake in the BWCA?

  • Jim Herrick

    About time! Skol Vikes!

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    Dayton says it’s a great day we put people to work. It’s also the day we just put the citizens of Minnesota on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. People celebrating this are without perspective, drunk on the opiate of the masses: football. So Orwellian it’s not even funny.

  • David P.

    Michael – you are too funny! I have made over 75 trips, and yes, I have my favorites – lakes, campsites and routes. They are my favorites because I cherish the solitude and enjoy good fishing, birding and star-gazing. I am not going to tell the world my secrets!

    • Ha, true, David. What do you think is a good lake or general route for newbies?

      • David P.

        Michael, my advice to newbies would be:
        * Consider hiring a guide or recruiting a friend that is experienced and capable.
        * Seek the advice of an outfitter – Bill Hansen @ Sawbill (above) is an excellent resource.
        * There are lots of helpful websites. Explore.
        * Know how to read a map and use a compass – there are no signposts to guide you. There are no reserved campsites, either.
        * Think safety! Even if your cell phone works (50-50 at best – a whistle is a better bet), you are at least several hours from help arriving, even on a close-in lake. If you get sick or hurt in the evening (and your cell phone works) don’t expect help until the next day. Know first aid & have a kit.
        * Keep expectations realistic (5, 10 or even 20 miles may not seem like much for a day’s travel, but it is a long, long day, especially for inexperienced campers/packers/portagers). Two or three portages are plenty for a group to manage in one day.
        * Have everyone on the same page – it is problematic when those that want to relax and read a book or just lounge about in the woods are on a trip with others that are on a mission to travel as far as possible.
        * Get an early start. Launching from the entry point after 12 noon is never a good idea.
        * Pack everything a week ahead. Load a canoe and launch at one of the lakes in town. Paddle straight across, then portage everything back to your launch site. Factor in that that was 1,000 times easier than the best portage in the BWCAW. BWCAW portages are not maintained walkways – they are uneven paths in the woods with lots of biting bugs. You will likely learn that you have packed way too much. It is better to learn that in town than halfway through your second portage.
        * Pitch your tent in the back yard a couple of times. Every tent is easy, if you know its secrets. Keep in mind that in the BWCAW, your tent space will be limited, it might be rainy or dark, and there will be biting bugs and rocky ground.
        * Get your feet wet – load and unload your canoe in shin-deep water. Rocky shorelines and canoes are not friends.
        * Don’t bring an ax or hatchet! It makes a lot of noise, weighs too much and you won’t need to use it. And it is an injury waiting to happen.
        * Same for a gun.
        * Just because the camping store sells it doesn’t mean you need it.

        I am probably guilty of too much info, and not writing what you wanted to read. For a more direct answer to your question, I would suggest one of the combination outfitters and lodges found near Ely or along the Gunflint Trail. That way you can draw on their expertise, they can coach you on packing and setting up camp and if all goes wrong, you can stay at the lodge and eat a nice meal on their deck.

        • mn

          This is great info!! Will be portaging for the first time this spring.

        • David P.

          One more thought. My attitude is my most important asset. I don’t go to conquer nature, but to experience and integrate.
          A stormy day in the BWCAW can be an amazing experience and a challenge (making camp in a pouring rain while keeping the tent and your gear dry is a creative problem solving opportunity).

  • scott44

    I like Frost Lake. But there are a few lakes that I do day hiking trips into. I enjoy getting on the Kekekabic Trail and heading in that way.

  • scott

    Gunflint Trail has more entry points then any place.

  • DC

    I love Ima Lake!

    • Linda Bucek-Loehr

      you mean youra lake…lol

  • ep2013

    That one with the great view, perfect swimming, and plenty of wildlife.
    Y’know,the one very few people know about 🙂

  • rory

    A good canoe guide never reveals their secrets. But with a Seagull Lake entry point, you can do no wrong. There is so much beauty hidden in those woods, every lake is a wonder.

  • LilAsil

    I’m with David P., not sharing my favorite (the rods getting there are hard, but the payoff is so worth it!!). But for beginners, putting in at Fall Lake out of Ely (which a lot of outfitters will help haul canoe’s etc. to) is a nice way to ease it. Motors are allowed but the further you go the more quiet you get. Fall Lake is a campground as well if you’re just looking for fishing day trips.

    • David P.

      Fall Lake is a good one for 1st timer or a short trip. It offers excellent fishing, too. If you have a veteran in your life, there is Veteran’s on the Lake camp, too, with modest cabins and a campground. They even have facilities to get handi-capped folks in and out of a boat.

      • LilAsil

        Excellent fishing indeed, especially considering the motors. I’ve got a fish tale from a pass through Newton (connected to Fall) that still makes my blood pressure rise!

  • Jimmy D

    The one I’m on at the time!

  • OPinionated

    The Lake that I’m on and appreciating.