Trip Length: 3-5 Days
Permit Required: Seagull Lake (BWCAW) entry permit
This route is for some of the less experienced canoeists and those new to the boundary waters experience. This loop will be a little more crowded because of the ease in which it can be done but also because of the excellent fishing opportunities that the lakes provide. This route can also be designed for the base camp fisherman that wants to relax and spend their time fishing. Whatever your preference, this is a pretty straightforward loop that will give you an introduction to what the BWCA has to offer. This loop only begins to scratch the surface. But for those with small children, first timers or those just looking to relax, it’s a great option.The loop can be done either way starting from Saganaga Lake and ending in Seagull, but I’ll describe it starting from Seagull instead. A Seagull entry permit is relatively easy to obtain as long as it’s not during the peak season. But you might consider calling with a couple months advance notice to ensure there are permits available.
You’ll paddle away from our dock on the northeastern most part of Seagull Lake. We also offer a tow service that can motor you 5 miles down the lake to reduce your paddle if you have smaller kids or are short on time. But Seagull Lake itself offers many options. The lake itself has over 100 islands of an acre in size or larger. So the navigation is the slightest bit challenging, but those attentive to their map will have no trouble. You may want to stop by the Seagull Palisades that are located on the north central part of the lake. They are a shear rock cliff that rises straight out of the water reaching 80 feet high.
From Seagull Lake, there are two ways to get to Alpine Lake. The first, and most popular way is via the 105 rod portage from a small bay on the westernmost end of the lake near where the rapids come in to Seagull Lake. It’s a sandy landing and very large with an easy, flat, sandy portage. The other option is via Rog Lake. Rog is a designated brook trout lake, so those interested in that type of angling might want to purchase a trout stamp along with your regular fishing license to take advantage of the “brookies” in Rog. The Rog portage is south from where the Alpine portage is. And Rog’s portage is 60 rods in length. Then from Rog, you’ll still have to portage 20 more rods out of the north side of the lake to reach Alpine Lake.
Alpine is a wonderful walleye and bass fishing lake. There are a number of islands in the middle of the lake which provide excellent structure for the fish. You might want to focus your efforts in and around the narrows between islands and rocky points and reefs. There are about 20 campsites on the lake, but during peak season, competition for sites can become heavy. So plan accordingly and choose a site early in the day if you plan to camp on Alpine. We recommend that you do.
The next day, you’ll want to travel north to the portage in to Red Rock Lake. It’s 50 rods in length and well traveled. You’ll have no problem. Red Rock will also provide some good angling opportunities for you fisherman. There are 8 campsites and there is almost always availability in the inn. Red Rock is a pretty lake and there are shallow back bays that the resident moose like to feed in in the evening. Paddle quietly and keep your camera handy.
When you’ve had your fill of Red Rock, you’ll portage out of the northeast part of the lake into Red Rock Bay that is part of Saganaga Lake. Saganaga Lake is a huge, but very pretty lake. The islands are countless so keep your map handy. We do offer a tow boat service on Saganaga Lake as well and can pick you up from that portage between Red Rock Lake and Red Rock Bay. Keep that in mind if you have smaller children.
The paddle through Saganaga Lake will be somewhat long, but if the weather’s nice and you stop at some of the campsites to stretch along the way the 4 or 5 hour paddle won’t be that bad. You may want to camp in one of the sites on Sag your last night to make the paddle back to the boat landing in the Sag corridor a bit shorter the next day.
Saganaga Lake is a massive lake that can be windy, so use your caution on those days. But when it’s calm, it is one of the prettiest paddles you can find in the entire park.
This loop can actually be done in a very long day trip, but we recommend that you spend 3 days on the loop, or more if you want to really hit the fishing hard. As a fisherman myself, I would plan for the extra time.
We can pick you up from the public landing on Saganaga, or you could actually paddle and make two more short portages and complete your trip back at our dock where you started from. We can give you routing advice when you reserve your trip and especially when you arrive at our base.
Again, this is a relatively easy canoe trip. But one that certainly many types of groups can enjoy.