Map Mondays – Week 1 – Hog Creek to Skipper/Portage

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Finding Solitude in the BWCAW

By mlarson | June 18, 2019

Though the Boundary Waters is the most visited wilderness area in the United States, it’s refreshingly empty compared to most national or state parks and seldom feels crowded. For many, the occasional encounter with another group is no big deal. But all of us dream about wilderness solitude at some point in our outdoor career:…

2022 Border Challenges

By Riley Smith | September 2, 2022

  Everywhere one walks and paddles in the BWCA there is a unique connection with the past. Every lake, every portage is filled with stories of legendary figures and lives lived. And through those stories come the marvelous tales of adventure and achievement born of adversity and hardship amidst the beauty. This coming week, a…

How to Name Over 1000 Different Lakes – The BWCA

By Riley Smith | October 14, 2022

The Boundary Waters have seemingly endless lakes bearing names from Ojibwe, French, English, or English mistranslations, misspellings, or honest translations of the Ojibwe. Many have fascinating backstories of how they came by their names. Some lakes have seemingly had the same name as long as time can remember while others have switched multiple times. This…

Is it Possible to Circumnavigate Minnesota by Canoe?

By Riley Smith | April 20, 2023

Preface: This route plan should not be utilized without extensive personal research. I have not completed this route nor do I specifically intend to. It exists for entertainment purposes only. As with all adventures, do your due diligence and research in vetting any part of this article before attempting a dangerous or challenging activity. With…

The Ten Most Challenging BWCA Lakes to Visit

By Riley Smith | May 16, 2023

The Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness encompasses over a million acres and 1100 named lakes interconnected by portages and streams, but sometimes that vast expanse can feel a little cramped, especially along entries where larger numbers of groups congregate. For the cynic who feels the BWCA is lacking some inherent quality of wilderness in this…

It Started in the Quetico: How One Trip Changed Me

By Riley Smith | July 26, 2022

A few weeks back, I reflected on why I enjoy introducing new people to the BWCA and the outdoors in general. My personal enjoyment for sharing those things is as much a reflection of the people that took the time to share them with me. This place would not be as special as it is…

How to Make the Most of High Water in the BWCA: A Trip Report

By Riley Smith | June 1, 2022

Open water season is well upon us and this year has been extraordinary so far. A decent snowpack and a late melt combined for a high water spring. As a result, there have been numerous stories of capsized watercraft and perilous experiences. High water can be a challenge and a hazard that should not be…

Footsteps of the Past – Tracing Minnesota’s Historic Portages

By Riley Smith | July 14, 2023

. In 1992, a report was concluded as portages of historical significance were surveyed in order to be included in a bid for the National Register of Historic Places. As part of this survey, archeologists looked for signs of the past and recorded the conditions of the trails and how time had changed them. The results were varied. Some trails had vanished completely or become so overgrown that they were nearly impossible to follow. In a few places in Minnesota though, there are still opportunities to trod in the tread of voyageurs and native peoples alike with a canoe on your shoulders and a sense of adventure in your heart. The spirit of the portage is still very much alive in the land of 10,000 lakes. Here are some of the most historic portages in the state.

The Ten Types of BWCA Campsite

By Riley Smith | November 30, 2022

Every traveler to the BWCA has their ideal of what a campsite should look like and what features it should have. Perhaps it has a sprawling camp kitchen or a nice overlook. Perhaps it’s perched on an island or alongside a sprawling beach. But whether the campsite is easy to access or is tucked back…

In the Context of Wilderness

By Riley Smith | September 7, 2023

Earlier this week, September 3rd, was the 59th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act which established the BWCAW and 53 other areas as newly defined wilderness. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has since gone on to become one of the most well-known and widely-beloved wilderness areas in the country. In examining the BWCAW today,…

Author Bio:

Riley Smith

Riley is the Director of Community Engagement and Public Relations for Portage North and Sundog Sport. He comes from a background in wilderness programing and environmental education with four years of BWCA outfitting and guiding before taking this role. In his free time, he can be found out canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, capturing photography, and writing.

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