For most of us, the best time to go on a canoe trip is any and every opportunity presented. But if you have a little flexibility in planning your trip, September is a wonderful month to visit canoe country.
Here are a few reasons why September might be the best month to plan a wilderness canoe trip.
1. Fewer bugs
Bugs are a hallmark of summer paddling (though you shouldn’t let them ruin your summer trip!). But with the crisp North Country nights of September, bugs (especially mosquitos) become less active and start to die off. A canoe trip in September allows for more time portaging, paddling, and hanging around camp without constantly dealing with bugs. It’s a delightful thing to watch the sun set over the lake without swatting a mosquito. And for some people, that’s reason enough to plan a trip in September.
2. More solitude.
The fall camping season brings a significant decrease in traffic in the BWCAW, making permits and campsites easier to get. While some of that is certainly owing to the slightly colder and less-predictable weather that comes later in the month, those willing to embrace the changing of the seasons are often rewarded with more time spent in solitude, though average September weather is still mild (40’s-60’s) for North Country standards. The kids are back in school, the outfitters and camps have wrapped up most of their guided trips for the season, and the summer vacationers have left the woods for the year. The Boundary Waters is the most visited wilderness area in the United States, but the majority of the season’s visits are concentrated in June, July, and August, making September an even more peaceful time to visit the Wilderness.
3. The fishing is better.
Gone are the dog days of July and August, and the fish are starting to feed heavily to prepare for the coming winter. Bass, pike, and walleye fishing all improves as the weather gets colder. Once you catch an eager smallmouth while paddling under the changing colors of late September, it may be hard to stay away next fall.
Of course, “best” is relative, but for most of us, fewer bugs, more solitude, and good fishing are agreeable desires for a canoe trip. Know that you may encounter a cold fall night or two, but next time you plan a canoe trip, give September a try.