Base Camp Canoe Trips
Easy Base Camp Lakes
West End of Seagull Lake
Seagull Lake, one of the gems of the Boundary Waters (about 2/3 inside the BWCA) is a clear water lake with lots of scenic islands. There are several beautiful campsites in the western portion of the lake that are on scenic points or islands. It takes about ½ a day to paddle to these sites from the landing. That whole area is in the 'paddle only' portion of the lake so it is pristine and quiet. Day trips, with a portage or two, take you to adjacent lakes for more walleye and bass fishing and perhaps a bald eagle sighting.
Cross Bay Lake
This scenic winding lake is in moose country, 3 portages into the wilderness. The portages are fairly easy (two short ones and one a bit longer) and the connecting lakes are on the smaller side. You can easily reach a nice campsite on Cross Bay on your first days paddle. From that base, you can take a day trip to Snipe or Rib lakes, looking for moose or trying a little fishing. This entire route has smaller lakes so it is reasonably protected from the winds.
One portage north of West Bearskin lake is Daniels Lake, a pretty lake with stands of white pine running up the ridges. This lake usually has plenty of solitude, and has some good smallmouth bass fishing. On the north end there is a portage trail to both Rose and Mud lakes, as well as a connection to the Border Lakes hiking trail. Since the portage trails are fairly long, few canoeists use it as a travel route, but base campers can enjoy them for nice forest hikes.
Moderate Base Camp Lakes
This pretty border lake is north of Gunflint Lake, down the Granite River route (actually not a river, but a series of small connected lakes). Clove is three portages into the wilderness, plus one small class one rapids. One portage is about ¼ mile long with a hill. There are walleye and smallmouth bass in the lake, and one of the campsites has a beautiful sand beach. Exploring days can take you to Swamp Lake or to the west to lake.
Access to Rose Lake is along a waterway that starts from West Bearskin, taking you through Duncan Lake and down the stairway portage to Rose. Nice campsites are scattered around the lake and Rose is renowned for excellent smallmouth bass fishing. The ridges along the south shore have big stands of huge white pine. Stairway portage is a bit on the tough side with over 100 log steps in one portion of the hill. At the top of the portage you can pick up the border lakes trail if you want to do some hiking.
More Challenging Base Camp Lakes
Gillis is deep into the BWCA, and it takes one long day to get there. You start at Round Lake and go through a route that includes Brandt, Fay, Flying and Green lakes. Some of the portages are rocky and hilly. Gillis and surrounding lakes have nice lake trout fishing plus some northern pike. The lakes are all fairly deep with very clear water. There are several connecting lakes for day trips and bald eagles nest in the general area.
This lake, nicely into the interior of the wilderness, is a longer north-south lake with smallmouth bass and walleye fishing. It takes a full day to paddle to it starting at Seagull lake. There are many attractive campsites scattered around the lake. Day trips to the east and south lead you to other pretty lakes for fishing or moose viewing.
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