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: 45.5 miles
Paddle Distance: 36.7 miles
Portage Distance: 8.7 miles
Target Campsite: Thunder Lake
Description: Angleworm is an odd entry point to start at which maintains some level of infamy for its nearly 2-mile portage out of the parking lot. There’s a wet spot near the middle which can be particularly discouraging depending on the season. However, Angleworm Lake is a nice lake with ridges rising up on either side that are steeped in history from the fire tower that once stood watch to an old logging railroad ran not far away. The portaging continues to be a little tricky throughout the day with mid to long portages connecting small lakes. Thunder Lake, the target at the day’s end, is a gem with a few campsite options. It’s out of the way enough to not get a ton of traffic and provides a nice place to set up shop for night 1.
Things to See: Quiet Lakes
Target Campsite: Friday Bay, Crooked Lake
Description: The next morning, head back through the muddy portages to Gull Lake. The portage from Gull to Gun comes next. Paddle up the long, skinny “barrel” of Gun Lake and take the mile-long portage into Wagosh. By now, you should be well practiced with long portaging. The following chain of lakes are all quaint, leaving little room for paddling before Crooked. Once you hit the open waters of Crooked though, it’s a nice freeing feeling after a taxing couple of days. Find the first campsite that suits your fancy and set up for the evening. You’ve earned it!
Things to See: Small lakes giving way to Crooked
Target Campsite: Crooked Lake
Description: Compared to the first two days, day three should be a breeze as it’s a portageless day. This allows plenty of time to sightsee, explore, or fish. Head east past Thursday and Wednesday bay. You should camp somewhere beyond Table Rock to stay on pace. Crooked is a large, complicated lake with numerous islands and backbays and a superb variety of places to explore.
Things to See: Crooked Lake
Target Campsite: Basswood Falls
Description: Continue paddling south on Crooked to begin your day. Make sure to stop by the popular pictograph sites. Paddle until portaging around Lower Basswood Falls. In high water in particular, be careful of the swirling currents coming off the rapid sets. Keep working east until the mile-long portage into Basswood. Take one of the sites on the portage trail for a unique stay. Some of them are better than others, but they are all uniquely placed and can provide a special place to spend the evening. Spend your extra time carefully exploring the area’s waterfalls and rapids or fish in the turbulent waters below.
Things to See: Pictographs and Waterfalls
Target Campsite: Good Lake
Description: It’s an odd experience waking up on a portage campsite since it shakes up the routine a bit. Portaging, not paddling, is the activity to wake up to. Finish the Basswood Portage and paddle out into the lake of the same name. Turn south towards Jackfish and Pipestone Bays before turning east towards Pipestone. Take the mid-length portage over into Back Bay. As you head further south into Hoist Bay, look for old logging debris in the water. This was the end of the Four Mile Portage which once was the bed of a logging railroad. The Four Mile is mostly a winter route now as beavers have reclaimed the second half of the trail. Take either the direct portage or the creek route into Good Lake where you’ll camp for the night.
Target Campsite: Exit
Description: The final morning of the trip will be a relatively relaxed one. Head over the portage into Hula and look for the creek mouth on the south shore to help locate your portage. It’s another mid-length portage into Wood Lake. Wood is a nice enough lake with islands and a good number of