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. Let’s check it out!
Total Mileage: 51 miles
Paddle Distance: 46.7 miles
Portage Distance: 4.4 miles
Target Campsite: Kawishiwi River
Description: South Kawishiwi is the southwestern entrance to the well-established route known as the Kawishiwi Triangle. It can be a busy stretch of the wilderness with easy-to-access lakes and plenty of entry options for a relatively small area. Day 1 of this route follows the Kawishiwi River for about 3 miles until the first marked portage. This one can be paddled through at times when the current isn’t super strong. In the spring, the force of the water can be hard to punch through. Head past the turn-offs to Esquagama and Clear, following along the main river channel. There will be a series of small portages along rapid sets from here; you may take three before reaching the northeast corner of the Triangle. Find an open campsite if there is one otherwise continue east in search of one.
Things to See: Scenic Rapids
Target Campsite: Bridge Lake
Description: Head east from the Triangle towards the Numbers Chain. You’ll pass a couple of entry points heading this way, each sending more groups into your path. The portages after Lake One, in particular, are prone to traffic jams. Use courtesy and patience! From Lake Two, take a less traditional route by portaging over into Rifle Lake. From Rifle, take a slightly longer portage into Bridge Lake. It’s an intentional step off of a busy route into quieter spaces in which to spend the night.
Things to See: Rapids and Waterfalls
Target Campsite: Lake Insula
Description: After portaging out of Bridge, you’ll enter an odd northern arm of Lake Four. This channel of water from Bridge, through Lake Four, and into Fire Lake runs parallel to the more common route to the south. It is more portaging, but I find the quiet and the scenery to be worth the while. The pair of portages heading into Fire Lake are through a gorgeous cliff-flanked pond which is worth a brief stop to enjoy. Portage into Hudson Lake and paddle south back into the Pagami burn zone. Take the portage up over the ridge into Lake Insula. Insula is a big, beautiful lake with loads of wonderful campsite options, though much of the southern half of the lake burned in Pagami. I would aim to travel north of the Rock before finding suitable accommodations for the evening
Things to See: Lake Insula
Target Campsite: Ashigan Lake
Description: Insula is a wonderful place to wake up. Head north into the back bay of the lake before turning north toward the Kiana portage. This is the shortest turnoff towards looping back to Moose Lake or Snowbank, but this route could be expanded by heading east towards Alice and points beyond. Kiana leads towards Thomas, a nice enough lake with good fishing and intersecting route options with a wide variety of possible route alternatives. For this route though, it’s west towards Hatchet and Ima. Jordan Pond comes next and the famous Jordan Narrows are worth spending a little time at. Head west and make another stop at Cattyman Falls. This is a magnificent cascade in an otherwise unassuming chain of lakes. The first opportunity for camping after Cattyman is Ashigan Lake with its four campsites. Ensign is another, albeit busier, option.
Things to See: Cattyman Falls, Jordan Narrows
Target Campsite: Exit
Description: This route is set for an evening exit, but mileage could be added earlier. in the trip to make the final day a shorter one. Head into Ensign and paddle west down the length of it into Splash and then Newfound beyond. You have now entered one of the busiest travel corridors in the BWCA. Follow the traffic back into Moose and stay south of the big island to exit the BWCA. Pull into the Moose Lake landing for another trip successfully completed.