As part of our continuing series on the “route planning game,” we are creating routes using randomly selected entry points, exit points, and number of days to create unique and fun BWCA routes. This route works through parts of the BWCAW’s far western end from the furthest west EP of the BWCA through big lakes and small and culminating at the Moose River. Check it out!
Total Mileage: 43.7 miles
Paddle Distance: 37.2 miles
Portage Distance: 6.4 miles
Target Campsite: Loon Lake
Description: LIS North is consistently one of the more popular entries in the BWCAW. On opening day, it’s often one of the first to sell for a variety of reasons. It’s scenic, there’s plenty of good campsites, there’s fine fishing to be had in connected routes, and there’s a wide variety of options depending on your travel preferences. Starting from the Echo Trail, the route follows the very final stretch of the Little Indian Sioux River as it flows north towards Loon Lake. You’ll pass through the famous Devil’s Cascade; allow yourself the time to take in all of the scenery. Paddle north into Loon Lake and find a campsite on the eastern shore that suits your fancy.
Things to See: Devil’s Cascade
Target Campsite: Beartrack Lake
Description: Day two brings longer and harder portaging. Head north first into Slim and then into North/South. It’s a climb towards Steep and then a quaintly rugged portage heading into Eugene. Next is Little Beartrack and then on to Beartrack proper. There are three campsites here so you’ll have some options to choose from.
Things to See: Small and Scenic Lakes
Target Campsite: Ge-be-on-e-quet
Description: The next morning, there’s a longish portage waiting for you to start your day leading into Thumb and Finger. From there, work your way up into Pocket Lake. There’s a creek route leading out from here into LLC, but you will be turning south into Gebe. This is a great lake to set up shop for the evening with decent campsites and plenty of sightseeing opportunities.
Things to See: Somewhat Quiet Routes
Target Campsite: Oyster Lake
Description: Day 4 is set up as sort of a rest day. Take the portage south of of Gebe. It’s a bit of a climb, but not too challenging. Continue south into Rocky where a simple yet well-documented pictograph set may be found. Oyster is a wonderful lake with some beautiful campsites and some fish to be found.
Things to See: Pictographs
Target Campsite: Ramshead
Description: Head east towards the Oyster River. Don’t get waylaid into Mans Nord Creek to the southern part of the lake which has turned around a few groups. Head south on the Oyster River until it connects with the Moose River. Late in the season, this waterway can get pretty choked with the aquatic vegetation which can make finding portage landings a bit tricky. Pay close attention to your navigation. Take the 135 rod portage around Ramshead Creek before dropping out into Ramshead proper. Ramshead, despite being full of campsites and along a major route, doesn’t see a ton of traffic compared to the nearby Nina Moose or Agnes. It has been known to have algea blooms some years which can be a detterant late in the season. For peace and quiet near the busy north moose entry though, it’s a great option.
Things to See: Marshy Rivers / Potential Wildlife
Target Campsite: Exit
Description: It’s a short portage to get into Lamb Lake and a longer trail to get back into Nina Moose. As you cross the portage, you may notice the Blandin Trail intersecting the trail from the south. From Nina Moose, follow the Moose River to the entry. The Portage River is also part of the entry permit technically but sees far fewer travellers and is much tougher travel these days. The Moose River is well traveled and portages are pretty easy to find. The final portage to the lot is a longish one, but is easy enough going through beautiful marshy scenery.