Challenging BWCA Canoe Trips
Ideal Canoe Trips of 5 to 8 days
Frost River Loop
You start with a Ham Lake entry into the wilderness heading south toward Long Island Lake. You are near the headwaters of the Arctic watershed and deep in the BWCA as you continue on to Frost Lake and into the Frost River. In thinking of how to describe this area words like- serene, surprise, solitude and sweat come to mind. This trip only works when we have a decent water level, Spring is best usually, from ice out in early May through most of June. After paddling the river you continue through Mora, Crooked, Tuscarora, Missing Link and Round Lakes. This has some of the best lake trout fishing in mid America. These are all native trout lakes, the fish all have a spotted skin color and orange flesh, and they are tasty.
The portages on this route are on the rocky and rough side--not real long but somewhat challenging because of the terrain. This is a fun trip for canoeists looking for a challenge and who come with previous experience.
Banadad Lake Route
You start on either Poplar Lake or Iron lake and head south into the interior of the wilderness area on a waterway overlooked by most visitors. The lakes are medium to small, the portages are fairly level but on the muddy side here and there, the fishing is best for northern and lake trout with walleye fishing on the last two days of the trip. There are very few permits for entry to this area so you sometimes have an entire lake to yourself as you settle into a campsite for the evening. There is a pack of timber wolves in the area that can sometimes be heard howling in the distance at night.
You paddle thru Rush, Banadad, Long Island, George, Rib, Cross Bay and Ham Lakes as you journey along. The rapids connecting the lakes are small but pretty. We pick you up at the Ham Lake landing on your last day.
Poplar Lake to Ham Lake, via Brule and Cherokee Lakes
This longer route takes you through some of the interior of the BWCA where you will not see many other canoeists. You start at Poplar Lake and head south through Caribou and Horseshoe lakes and on to Winchell. The fishing will vary during your trip—starts with walleye and smallmouth bass, and then moves to bass and northern pike. A couple of the lakes have lake trout because they are deep and rocky. Toward the end of your trip you get back to walleye again.
Past Winchell you get to the Cones (several smaller lakes) and they have good smallmouth bass fishing. Then you drop down to Brule lake and head west toward Cherokee, one of the prettiest lakes in the wilderness. Then you make your way north to Long Island Lake and up the waterway to Ham Lake.
The lakes vary from small to medium large. Brule lake is your biggest but you paddle along the north shore where you are often protected from the winds. The fishing is fun and varied, and you can often spot a moose feeding in the shallows. This is also an area with several bald eagle nests, so you can often see them soaring with the wind currents as they scout for their next meal.