Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Entry Points Serviced by Clearwater BWCA Outfitters
As you read about the specific entry points below there are a few key words we need to define.
Portage: Portages in the BWCA are paths that connect two lakes. Some are more rugged than others and they all very length with few of them over one mile. Portages are measured in rods.
Rod: A rod is 16.5 feet, or roughly the length of a canoe. There are 320 rods in one mile.
Service: We mention that we service a specific entry point, this means that for a fee we will transport you and your equipment to that specific entry point. You can find the specific costs to different entry points here.
Base Camping: using a main encampment which has supplies and shelter as a point to return to and resupply during excursions.
#41-Brule Lake-7 permits per day
Brule Lake is a large lake with easy access and a lot of great campsites. The lake itself is very popular but many routes out of the lake will lead to more seclusion.
#43-Bower Trout Lake-1 permit per day
This is a very quiet entry point and access to Bower Trout Lake starts with a 30 rod portage and leads to only one route until you reach Brule Lake. The portages between Bower Trout and Brule are more rugged than most making this a challenging start to a trip. If you’re are looking to “get away’ portaging out to Swan Lake and base-camping is a great option.
#44-Ram Lake-1 permit per day
Whether you are using it to base-camp or to start a route only one permit per day means you will most likely see very few people in the area. Access starts with a steep 90 rod portage. Ram Lake is a great Lake Trout and Rainbow Trout lake, making it a bit more popular in the spring. You can use this entry point to paddle the Poplar-Ram Route.
#45-Morgan Lake-1 permit per day
Gaining access to Morgan Lake requires you to start off with a 370-rod (over one mile) portage. This discourages most people leaving permits available for even the most popular times of summer. If you want a lake all to yourself in July or August and are willing to work for it getting a Morgan Lake permit and heading into Carl or Lux is the ticket.
#47-Lizz and Swamp Lakes-4 permits per day
To reach the actual portages into your official entry point you will need to put in at and paddle a mile and a half down Poplar Lake. The lakes and portages on the other side of this entry point are smaller than most of the others in the area and offer excellent fishing opportunities. This is a very popular entry point so make sure to secure your permit earlier than later. Caribou, and Horseshoe Lakes are very popular with base-campers so keep this in mind if you are planning a late start. Both the Poplar-Ram Route and Cross Bay-Poplar Routes can utilize this entry point.
#48-Meeds Lake-3 permits per day
This is another entry-point off of Poplar Lake that gets you into some great fishing. The one-mile portage makes this one a bit more challenging that entering through Lizz Lake, but it also leaves more permits available later.
#49-Skipper and Portage Lakes-2 permits per day
This is the last of three entry points off of Poplar Lake and requires a one-mile portage to gain access to Skipper. The length of the portage and the fact that it only leads to one route makes it the least popular of the three entry points off of Poplar Lakes. The lakes west of Skipper are quieter than most, but some challenging portages come as a trade off. You can use this entry point as a more remote option to paddle the Cross Bay-Poplar Route.
#50-Cross Bay Lake-3 permits per day
Entering in at Cross Bay Lake will allow you to paddle a few different routes, or base-camp. The Frost River route and the Cross Bay-Poplar Route start from this entry point. There is a lot of moving water in this area making for more portages, but they do run shorter than average. Most of the lakes in area offer good Northern Pike and Lake Trout fishing.
#51-Missing Link Lake-5 permits per day
After putting in and paddling a ¾ mile across Round Lake you will need to portage 147 rods to officially enter the BWCA. Another 428 rod bruiser of a portage is required to gain access to Tuscarora Lake. Excellent fishing and campsites make Tuscarora a great place to base-camp, otherwise this entry point can be used to put together a multiple day loop out to the Little Saganaga Lake Route.
#52-Brant Lake-4 permits per day
This is the second entry point accessed by paddling across Round Lake. Paddling and portaging 8 times is required to get to Gillis Lake, which is the first lake that does not have extensive fire damage. This may be one of the reasons this permit is almost always available. This entry point can be used if #51 is gone to access the Little Saganaga Lake Route and some of the same lakes. Some excellent small lake trout lakes can be found in this area as well.
#54-Seagull Lake-11 permits per day
Seagull Lake is huge and is one of the best fishing lakes on the Gunflint Trail. Numerous routes can be started from Seagull but its number great campsites, islands and easy access make for a perfect lake to base-camp on for a weekend. Keep in mind that the eastern portion of this lake allows motorboats. This entry point can also be used to start or finish the Knife Lake Route.
#55-Saganaga Lake-17 permits per day
Of all the entry points on the Gunflint Trail this one offers the most overnight paddling permits per day; it is a rare occurrence to not find an available permit on this lake. It is a massive lake that can become quite dangerous in the wind and boats with motors up to 25 horsepower are allowed on most of the lake which deters some paddlers. This is the best entry point to use if you are looking to paddle the Knife Lake Route, the Granite River Route, or enter Quetico Provincial Park.
#57-Magnetic Lake-3 permits per day
Putting in at the public access on Gunflint Lake and paddling north will get you to your first portage and official entrance. Most people put in at Gunflint and take out at Saganaga Lake because there is a lot of moving water flowing north. Most portages are to avoid waterfalls and moving water making for a dramatic trip. This route has been extensively effected by multiple fires over the last 20 years. This is the preferred entry point to the moderate Granite River Route.
#58-South Lake-3 permits per day
Its difficult access makes this one of the easiest entry point permits to acquire, it’s almost always available. It requires putting in at the public access on Gunflint Lake and paddling 11 miles to the east before you officially enter the BWCA. Difficult access notwithstanding this permit does allow one to get onto the popular historic border route used by the Voyageurs that can be difficult to find permits for otherwise. If you are looking for a trip that has fewer portages and more paddling this is your entry point. Use this entry point as a starting point for the West Bearskin Border Route.
#60-Duncan Lake-3 permits per day
This is one of the best entry points for first timers and families. You have to put in on West Bearskin lake and portage 60 rods to officially enter Duncan Lake. It offers excellent access to Rose Falls and the Border Route Trail making for a perfect base-camping style trip. This is also the best entry point to use if you want to paddle the border lakes and experience the lakes and portages the way the French Voyageurs did. This entry point is the most popular place to begin the West Bearskin Border Route.
#61-Daniels Lake-1 permit per day
Unless you are willing to work this is essentially a dead-end lake. Access from West Bearskin Lake and a 50 rod portage will get you into Daniels Lake, but to get out will require a 300 rod portage into Rose Lake or a 150 rod portage into Rove Lake. It does offer 4 nice camp site with great spring trout fishing if you wanted to base-camp. It can also be used as an alternative entry point into Rose or Rove if other entry points are unavailable.
#62-Clearwater Lake-3 permits per day
Clearwater Lake offers access to some of the most beautiful lakes in the Boundary Waters. Three different lakes can be portaged to off of the lake and all three offer different ways of completing the Clearwater Main Route. Its easy access to Johnson Falls, the Border Route Trail and beautiful lakes makes this a popular entry point. It is also the second clearest lake in all of the area, second only to Lake Superior. Because it is surrounded by so many other lakes it makes it a great place to set up a base camp and venture out each day.
#64-East Bearskin Lake-4 permits per day
This entry point offers access to smaller lakes and shorter portages than the Clearwater entry point, it is mainly used to paddle a version of the East Bearskin Lake Route but it can be used as an alternative option to paddling the Clearwater Main Route. Deer, Moon and Alder offer excellent fishing opportunities. Because of the good fishing, its easy accessibility and day trip options it is also a very popular entry point.
#66-Crocodile Lake-1 permit per day
This entry point is strictly for base-camping lake as this permit only allows you to camp on Crocodile lake. Access is via East Bearskin Lake and a 120-rod portage. Solitude, four campsites and excellent walleye fishing is what you will find on Crocodile.
#68-Pine Lake-1 permit per day
This entry point is accessed via the Arrowhead Trail, putting in at the McFarland Lake public access and paddling west a few miles to the east end of Pine. Although the Arrowhead Trail is remote and getting there with your vehicle will take longer than most entry points, once you get there accessing Pine Lake is quite easy. Be mindful of late starts into Pine as its 10-mile length can cause for near impossible travel on windy days.
#69-John Lake-1 permit per day
Putting in at the Little John access at the end of the Arrowhead Trail makes this one of the most remote entry points in the BWCA, at least from a driver’s point of view. Once there though it does offer quick and easy access into the BWCA as only one short portage stands in your way of John Lake so it is still relatively popular. John Lake offers three campsites and great walleye fishing along with access to East Pike and North and South Fowl via the Royal River.
#70-North Fowl Lake-2 permits per day
This entry point permit is almost always available. Even after making it to the remote public access put in on Little John Lake via the Arrowhead Trail there are still five miles of paddling and four portages that stand between you and your official entry point in the BWCA. This makes North Fowl one of the most challenging and remote entry points into the Boundary Waters. If you are looking to get away this is the entry point for you.
#80-Larch Creek-1 Permit per day
This is the entry point to use if you want to paddle the Granite River and there are no Magnetic Lake permits available. It can also be used a quick getaway into Larch Lake which is typically very quiet.