Canoe Trip Length: 3-5 Days

Permit Required: Saganaga Lake (BWCAW) entry permit

Try the Saganaga Lake Canoe Route. Home to some of the best walleye, lake trout, smallmouth bass, and northern pike fishing around- it’s no secret that the many acres of Saganaga Lake have something to offer. A destination that’s guaranteed to meet your expectations, Saganaga Lake has an expansive lake area that offers pristine island views, wildlife such as moose and bald eagles, and day-trip opportunities for even the novice paddler.

Saganaga Lake Walleye

Located at the southernmost point of the Saganaga Lake corridor, you will begin and end your canoe trip at the Saganaga public landing. This landing is conveniently located only one mile north of our location. If you’re renting canoes from us, we’ll take care of transporting you! Upon paddling north through the corridor, you will come across the main body of Saganaga Lake and have your choice of premier campsites. Perhaps you will venture north towards Saganaga Falls and set up a base camp on Blueberry or Horseshoe Island(s). You could decide to explore the eastern segment of Saganaga and camp on Englishman or Gold Island(s), or you could even head northeast past American Point to camp in the three bays of Saganaga Lake for the duration of your stay.

A motor boat tow (one way or round trip) to American Point or Saganaga Falls can cut hours off of your paddling time if desired. Learn more at

Many people utilize a base camp because it promotes relaxation and just kicking back and enjoying the vacation. There aren’t a whole lot of things better than waking up early to watch the sunrise across the lake while sipping a cup of coffee knowing that you don’t have to pack up your camp to move to a different site each day. Maybe you’ve got a split ballot on what to do for the day. There’s no reason you can’t have part of your group do one thing while the other half does another. This allows everyone to fulfill their own individual wishes while not disrupting anyone else who has something else in mind.

Eagle on Saganaga Lake

A Saganaga Lake entry permit is relatively easy to obtain as long as you’re not coming during the peak of the season, and you will be pleased with the campsite options that you come across! Would you like an island campsite? Sure, there’s plenty! Would you like a campsite tucked away in a secluded bay? Sure, there are those too! You are guaranteed to find your niche on this body of water.

Keep in mind that Saganaga Lake is a large body of water that can be windy, so be sure to proceed with caution on those days. As a general rule of thumb, always paddle along the shore and keep your weight centered in the canoe at all times.

There are a variety of day-trip opportunities to choose from if you have set up a base camp on Saganaga Lake. There are three options that do not even require portaging! First, you could paddle south/southwest to Red Rock Bay. This segment of the lake hosts wonderful walleye fishing, and you will even come across smallmouth bass in each of the inlets. Another option os to paddle northeast to the base of Saganaga Falls. Try to visit in May and June- the water will REALLY be rushing at that time! Enjoy incredible views of the water flowage as well as spectacular walleye fishing beneath the falls with this day trip. The last option is to paddle northwest across the Canadian border to visit the notable Cache Bay pictographs, which are a part of the beautiful Quetico Provincial Park. Visit the Cache Bay Ranger Station to check in and pay your park fee for the day, and then proceed for a quick paddle across Ontario’s waters of Cache Bay to the artistry of the historic pictographs on the cliffs located on the west side of the lake. Each individual over the age of 18 years will be required to apply and be approved for an RABC pass 4-6 weeks in advance of your arrival if you plan to cross the border, please visit for more information about this process.

There are also a multitude of day-trips that will have you portage. Paddle northwest past American Point and through Swamp Lake to hike the monument portage which you’ll find a number of USGS control points marked by “monuments” that determine the US/Canadian border. Beyond the monument portage you’ll find yourself in Ottertrack Lake, home of the last legal resident, Benny Ambrose, allowed to live within the borders of the BWCAW. Also some fantastic vistas line Ottertrack Lake that rise up over 100 feet along the shorelines. Maybe you’d be interested in taking a daytrip into Ashdick Lake and fish for largemouth bass which are a rarity in the BWCAW. You could also take the short 5 rod portage south into Zephyr Lake and fish for walleye.

This type of trip is excellent for beginners, for families with children, for groups that want to fish, for groups that might be getting up in age and still want to enjoy the sights and sounds of the BWCA, or for the groups that want to bring the many comforts of home to the campsite without the worry of strapping it all on their back. Do you want to eat like kings and pack in fresh food and not worry about the weight? This could be your next destination.

Still trying to decide which route? Check out more canoe routes. Learn more about BWCA Permits. Download/print your menu form!