Canoe Trip Length: 4-5 Days
Permit Required: Cross Bay Lake (BWCAW) entry permit
The Long Island Lake canoe route will involve a fair bit of portaging, but the lakes are small and a route like this is perfect for a family with smaller children or a group looking for a basic to moderate challenge in their wilderness experience.
To start, we will load you and your gear and canoes up in one of our suburbans and drive you south about 6 miles to where we will launch you in Cross Bay. This area is a little less traveled because the permit availability is less than some of the bigger lakes. We will see you off and then won’t see you until you come back. Enjoy your trip.
Your first portage is only a few paddle strokes away as you will portage around some rapids that greet you right away. This will be a theme on this route. The water is flowing north and you will be traveling south which means you’ll be against the flow on the way in, but don’t worry, the tables will turn on your way home. The portages are relatively short but are a bit rocky, so watch your step. Cross Bay does hold some bass, pike and walleye, so if that trips your trigger feel free to drag a line.
Your next portage will be on the left side of the rapids, so approach from that side and things will be easier. After you make this carry, you’ll be in Ham Lake. There are three nice campsites on this lake if you want to make this your first camp, but the day is still pretty young, so we suggest you push on to Cross Bay Lake and target the campsite toward the south part of the lake. The portage leading out of Ham Lake is on the south shore about 100 yards west of the rapids that flow into the lake. The trail is well worn and starts out on an incline, but there are some steps that make things convenient.
Now in Cross Bay Lake, you’ll find the navigation a bit more challenging because of the bays and fingers that branch off in all directions, but this is a wonderful opportunity to spot the native wildlife. The different species of birds that you’ll see along with the potential to see beaver and moose makes every turn of the canoe exciting as you wait and hope with anticipation. Travel quietly and you’ll increase your chances. Again, check out the campsite on the south part of the lake, it is nice and high located on a big rock face.
From Cross Bay Lake, you’ll portage south into Rib Lake, Lower George Lake, Karl Lake and then finally to your destination of Long Island Lake. This is a popular lake because it can be accessed from many directions. There are close to 20 campsites on the lake, but you’ll want to grab yours early in the day if you’re traveling during peak season. There are a number of nice island campsites, but there is also a very nice sand beach site that is located right as you portage across from Karl Lake on the north end of the lake.
Long Island Lake offers a great base camp because of the options off of the lake. The fishing right there on Long Island isn’t spectacular, but there are a good population of pike and lake trout with a few bass. Catch a sunset on this lake as you look west across the lake. The islands on the lake make for some great scenery and photo opportunities. Cherokee Lake is not far away and there you can find some walleye and bass that inhabit that lake. And the paddle from Long Island to Cherokee is a scenic one. Keep your eyes open for moose. They are common in the area.
Upon spending a couple days in Long Island Lake, you’ll want to start making your way back. After you’ve retraced your paddle strokes back to Cross Bay Lake, you can either continue the same way you paddled in, or you can branch off and add another day on to your trip and a little extra scenery as well.
Snipe Lake is just west of Cross Bay Lake and it is a seldom traveled lake. The portage into Snipe is not difficult and the path is clear. Snipe holds a couple smaller campsites that are nice and remote and also some lake trout and a few brook trout as well in the small deep lake. From Snipe you’ll portage into Missing Link Lake that is a bit more challenging than the portages thus far on the trip, but you shouldn’t have any trouble. The last portage of the trip will take you from Missing Link to Round Lake where we will pick you up just as we dropped you off to start the trip. Your last portage is a lengthy 140 rods, but it is downhill, so just watch your footing on the rocky trail and you’ll be home free.
We can prearrange a time to pick you up here, or it might make more sense to paddle to the local outfitter on Round Lake that will become obvious once you arrive on Round Lake. There you can make a phone call to us and we’ll be on our way to pick you up at the public landing. This is a great 4 or 5 day trip for those that are looking for some relaxation and not placing the entire success of the trip on the fishing success, or for those that have smaller children that want to stay away from the big windy lakes.