The Comprehensive Guide to Portaging Like a Pro

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How to Plan a BWCA Route: The Treebear Way

By Riley Smith | July 12, 2022

Amidst guiding, outfitting, and plenty of personal trips in between, I’m blessed to have “crossed the line” into the BWCA 88 different times. I look back at all those incredible memories and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Boundary Waters still has plenty of surprises in store and so many more breathtaking moments to come. I also believe I…

Map Mondays – Week 11 – Morgan to Lake One

By Riley Smith | September 13, 2023

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 week’s route running from one of the BWCA’s quietest entry points to one of the busiest, embraces a mentality of solitude…

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 BWCAW Permit and Visitor Use Report

By Riley Smith | August 30, 2023

At the end of July, last year’s visitor use report was published by the USFS. It notes current statistics and trends in visitor numbers and activities. It also provides a unique benchmark which, along with past visitor surveys (and more major studies from 2007, 1992, and 1969) gives a glimpse into the people utilizing the…

Map Mondays – Week 2 – Kawishiwi Lake to Stuart River

By Riley Smith | July 3, 2023

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 week is a fast-moving 5-night trip from Kawishiwi Lake to Stuart River. It crosses some of the quietest stretches of the…

Overnight to Dorothy’s – A Trip Report

By Riley Smith | August 23, 2022

  I will admit that sadly I never met Dorothy Molter. When I took my first Boundary Waters trip, she had already been gone for 17 years. And yet, like many of us who have only enjoyed the stories, she remains a revered figure in our local history. And it’s the same for so many…

Gear Features: We’ve got your back(straps)!

By Riley Smith | August 2, 2022

  At Portage North and Sundog Sport, we sell gear that we would want to use and that we can trust. In that pursuit, we are constantly improving our gear so that it can be more enjoyable to use, more trustworthy, and easier to make to a high standard. Much has changed since Portage North…

A Few Tips for Faster Portaging

By mlarson | June 3, 2019

“Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy,” said Bill Mason, the legendary Canadian paddler and environmentalist, in his 1984 film Waterwalker.  While there’s a gritty sense of satisfaction in carrying your entire camp over rocks, roots, and trees, for most paddlers portages are something to be completed rather than savored. And…

The Twenty Greatest Rivers and Streams of the BWCA

By Riley Smith | May 17, 2023

What makes something great is often a subjective matter, one formed of comparisons and perspectives. Is it the large size? How about the incredible strength, power, or position? Is it the beauty or some other awe-inspiring attribute which draws admiration and respect. Take the Great Lakes as an example of many of these definitions. West…

Map Mondays – Week 4 – Bower Trout to Little Indian Sioux North

By Riley Smith | July 24, 2023

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 week’s randomly selected entry points set us up for a cross-BWCA trip. It’s a long, 10-night trip that covers most of…

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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