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Boundary Waters in a wooden canoe?

Discussion in 'Places to Paddle' started by mccloud, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    I have not been to the Boundary waters in a great many years, and am looking to go back. What I need is an easy route of about 5 days without long portages for an old guy who has trouble carrying a heavy canoe, so I'm asking for your recommendations. This most likely would be an August trip. I've got some books and maps. Can anyone comment on the Isabella river? The guides show some camping sites, but what if those are already full? Do you get in trouble camping elsewhere? Tom McCloud
  2. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Best advice - rent a light canoe. Leave the W/C home. (I'll never take my W/C back to the BW, just too heavy)

    August on a river, expect low water, never been on the Isabella so can't help there.

    Yes, in most areas, you can only legally camp on established sites. If a "ranger" checks you, you will be in trouble.
    Generally speaking, the established sites are there because that's where the good places to camp are.

    The easiest routes would be larger lakes with few portages, Seagul-Sag, Moose-Basswood, Sag-Knife.
    5 days - depends on how far/long you paddle, could be 100 miles or 20 miles, just depends.
    (my answers are biased as I like large lakes and clear water, not a fan of rivers (small water and stained water))
    (small water usually means plenty of portages)

    My fav area is the Knife Lake area, nice water and very clear.


    oh, saw your post on the cart string - they are not legal in the BW, at least not most areas, there are a handful (3-4) of portages to motor lakes where they could be used. And most portages are way too rough for them to be useful anyway. They would be just another item to carry.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  3. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I go to Pickerel Lake in Quetico annually... Just completed my 30th Quetico trip a couple of days ago.
    I used to do loops where portaging is involved....but no more. We put in on Pickerel and spend 8 days there... 4 different sites... One portage...30 yards from the parking lot to the lake!
    Our entry point is Dawson Trail... pM me if you want more info
  4. Giiwedin

    Giiwedin Gouvernail

    Consider Moose put-in and up to North Bay on Basswood. That's four portages, none too difficult. There are some top flight large campsites on the east shore of North Bay - where you can base-camp for several days and take day trips (say over to Shade lake or, winds permitting, way west on Basswood). This is pretty easy traveling even with a heavy wooden canoe, and you'll be glad you brought it along. We just returned from an early May trip to the area and it was pretty great (including the fishing).
  5. Feathers

    Feathers LOVES Wooden Canoes

    A great site to get information and online maps for the BWCA is I also like the mapping functions of Paddle Planner.

    I love paddling our old wood canvas canoes, but I take Kevlar canoes into the BWCA. And, next week I'll be in the Quetico for the first time (and I'm taking the MNII).
  6. ppine

    ppine Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I love my OT Guide 18 but it weighs 92-95 pounds.
    We paddled the BWCA in 1985 with 17 foot aluminum rental boats.
    If I go today, you can bet it would be in a kevlar boat.
    I recently acquired an OT Canadienne in kevlar. It is the smaller one, under 16 feet and weights 49 pounds.
  7. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    I've been a few times with Dave Osborn. My canoe was at first a self built 18'er. I took lines from a penn yan guide that was toast and made a form and one canoe from it. Then I switched to my '26 Old Town HW. It's an 18'er and weighs about 80#. I like the OT better. We caught a lot of fish and paddles some pretty big water. We don't do carries and see lots of beautiful country. It can be done. You may not have any place to paddle this year tho. Things are shut down mostly.

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