Trip Length: 5-6 Days
Permit Required: Seagull Lake(BWCAW) entry permit
Starting from our dock on Seagull, you can paddle or you can opt for the headstart tow boat launch to the west end of Three Mile Island, which will save you about an hour and a half of paddling. Either way, you’ll make your way west to Alpine Lake. There are two options, either take the 105 rod portage directly from Seagull to Alpine, or you could opt for the 20 rod portage into Rog Lake, followed by a 60 rod portage from Rog to Alpine. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
Alpine Lake is a fantastic smallmouth and walleye lake if you have time to drop a line. It’s fair to mention that the first part of this trip was affected by the Ham Lake fire in 2007. However, once you get to Ogishkemuncie Lake you will have passed through the fire affected area.
From Alpine you’ll continue to Jasper Lake via a portage around a pretty waterfall that is emptying Jasper Lake into Alpine Lake. The flow of the water on this route is from west to east, so you’ll be traveling against the flow (however, the flow is not noticeable except for right at the portages.
Jasper Lake offers northern pike and lake trout. From Jasper you’ll continue west into Kingfisher Lake. Kingfisher is just a small lake, but can have some nice fishing below the rapids that empty into the lake from Ogish.
Ogishkemuncie, is the Ojibwa word for “Kingfisher”. I don’t think it’s a coincidence how Kingfisher is the lake just to the east of Ogishkemuncie. The two are related by Ojibwa definition. Ogishkemuncie (pronounced “o-gish-keh-mun-see”) is simply referred to as Ogish for brevity’s sake.
You’ll find that Ogish is a tale of two lakes really, especially now after the 2007 fire. The eastern half of the lake was affected by the Ham Lake fire. The fire spread from the south, and jumped the narrows at the mid point of the lake. The wind was blowing from the west that day, and pushed the fire eastward. It will be interesting in years to come to see how the forest regenerates and you’ll be able to compare the two sides of the lake.
What makes Ogish a great place for a base camp is that it’s positioned perfectly at the crossroads of a number of routes. A number of routes all converge on Ogish, which will make the amount of people you see a little heavier than on some other lakes. This may be a deterrent for some of you, but for those of you looking for a variety of options all within a short hour or less paddle, this is the trip for you.
The location of Ogish allows you to explore the lakes to the south, Mueller, Agamok and Gabbimichigami. On the portage between Mueller and Agamok Lake, you will intersect the Kekekabic hiking trail that connects Ely to the Gunflint Trail. At this particular point, there is a bridge that spans a beautiful waterfall that flows north from Agamok to Mueller. For many of you, this is a new concept. Yes that’s right, the water actually flows north. All water in this part of the country no longer flows south to the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, north of the Laurentian Divide, all the water in these parts ultimately flows north to Hudson Bay.
The Kek bridge is a great place to explore and a beautiful spot for pictures. It’s a must see during your trip if you like waterfalls.
For you fishermen and women, Ogish is the place to be. Here you’ll find excellent smallmouth, northern and walleye angling opportunities. It’s a fantastic natural fishery with superb structure and many islands. There are a number of inflows from adjacent lakes which offer running water…always a great place to wet a line.
On your map you’ll see Spice Lake to the north of Ogish and Skindance Lake to the south. Here you’ll find smallmouth and northern fishing to be great, and they’re both just a short portage away. As you scan west from Ogish, day trip opportunities abound as you portage into Annie and Jenny Lakes. These lakes are both northern pike lakes, and the portages connecting the lakes are a piece of cake.
Eddy Falls on the north side of Eddy Lake in the BWCANorth of Jenny is Eddy Lake. Lake trout and smallmouth bass can be found in Eddy, and if you continue north, the portage from Eddy into South Arm Knife has a great waterfall to enjoy and explore. In the summer months, it’s even possible to sit in the falls for a refreshing treat.
If you’re looking for even more day trip opportunities, continuing west from Eddy Lake, you’ll traverse the Kek ponds on your way into Kekekabic Lake. This is a large body of water with very steep cliffs lining both the north and south shores. A hike to the top of one of these cliffs will allow you a vantage point unlike any other. You’ll be able to see for miles and miles. For you anglers, there is some excellent lake trout fishing in Kekekabic because of the steep shoreline structure and very deep sections of the lake.
In summation, a base camp trip on Ogishkemuncie is perfect for fishermen of all four of the main game fish species in the BWCA…walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and lake trout. It’s a great trip option for paddlers interested in seeing waterfalls. It is also the perfect canoe trip destination for the adventurous explorer as options abound on this Boundary Waters route.
If your main goal is to not see another soul for a week and you want to completely isolate yourself from all other groups, this won’t be the best trip option because of the location of Ogish in relation to other main travel routes through this section of the BWCA. But if your idea of solitude and isolation is simply anything less than sitting in Grand Marais rush hour traffic (that was a joke), then this canoe route will certainly achieve that for you.
Because this trip is advertised as a “base camp”, you could spend as much time as you’d like on this trip. There is easily enough lakes to see and attractions to see simply by doing different day trips from Ogish to keep you busy for a week and not do the same thing twice. On average depending on wind and weather and paddling/portaging experience, it takes a group 6 hours travel time to paddle/portage to Ogish from our dock on Seagull Lake. Utilizing our tow boat launch will reduce that travel time by an hour and a half depending on wind.
If this route sounds like a keeper, call us today at 218-388-2216 or email us to set up your next Boundary Waters adventure.
For more information about planning this canoe trip, see the many resouces on our website for help: