Trip Length: 5-7 Days
Permit Required: Seagull Lake (BWCAW) entry permit
Starting from Seagull Lake, where we call home, you’ll begin your trip. There are 11 permits allowed per day to enter through Seagull and during the season, maybe 10 to 15 percent of those days ever approach its capacity. You can either paddle from our dock in the northeast corner of the lake or utilize our head start tow launch that will save you five miles of paddling. Seagull is studded with islands, over 100 of them in fact, and is often times as far as some groups ever go. But we’ll take you deeper into the heart of the wilderness with this journey.
From Seagull you’ll portage into Alpine Lake over a flat sandy path for 105 rods. Those of you curious to know what a rod is, it is a unit of measure in the canoe country that measures 16 1/2 feet. 320 rods is equivalent to a mile, so this will help you put it into more familiar terms. Alpine has a number of nice island campsites and is an excellent walleye, bass and northern fishing lake which does attract some people, but the further you get in, the less people you’ll see. From Alpine to Jasper, Kingfisher and Ogishkemuncie you’ll find some picturesque waterfalls/cascades at most all of the portages, especially between Alpine and Jasper. Ogishkemuncie is referred to as “Ogish” by those that are familiar with the lake, and it will save you from sounding like a first timer when you try to pronounce it. Ogish is a great base camp lake if this is the route you choose to go because of the numerous campsites, excellent day trip opportunities and probably the number one reason: the fishing. Again, walleye, smallmouth and northern are plentiful on this lake; you won’t be disappointed.
From Ogish you’ll navigate a couple smaller lakes as you paddle northwest into Annie, Jenny and Eddy Lakes. Eddy empties out into South Arm of Knife Lake via Eddy Falls. This is a beautiful little waterfall that is a great photo op, and it also provides many sweaty paddlers with just what they’re looking for on a hot summer day. You can actually swim and sit right under the falls and refresh yourself before pushing on. South Arm of Knife is very lightly traveled and even though it is a big lake, the many bays and peninsulas make it seem much smaller. As you come to Thunder Point, you’ll want to look for the trail that leads to the top of the rock outcropping there on the point. This provides a breathtaking view west down the big part of Knife Lake. You’ll know you’ve found something special when you arrive here. And all you have read and heard about the boundary waters is truly defined as you sit and soak up this moment perched high above the waters below.
Before making the turn east you may want to paddle a couple miles further west and stop by and see the remains of Dorthy Molter’s, the “Root Beer Lady”, homestead near Robbins Island to get your boundary waters history fix for the trip. Knife Lake provides excellent fishing as well, and if the boundary waters Gods are nice to you, the wind should push you the rest of the way. The prevailing winds are out of the southwest, so if you’re lucky, it’ll be all downhill from here. The Little Knife Portage takes you up and around a small rapids into Ottertrack Lake. Here you’ll find high cliffs lining both shores.
Remember though, you can only camp on the south shores, the American side. The north shore is the Quetico and would require a different permit. Monument Portage is where you’ll find your location evident as the portage is marked with three brass markers that depict the US/Canadian border. Once you reach Saganaga Lake, the portaging is over with and American Point will soon be in your site. If you’ve arranged a tow boat pick up with us, this is all the further you’ll have to go. But if you’ve decided to paddle in, you’ll want to allot about 3 to 5 hours give or take in order to paddle big Saganaga Lake where we will come pick you up from the public landing by truck.
On completion of this trip, you’ll have experienced some of the very best the boundary waters has to offer: excellent fishing, waterfalls, high cliffs, island campsites and wildlife aplenty. This trip can also be just as easily done in reverse. If you allow 6 days for this trip, you’ll have plenty of time. But a solid 7 days would be ideal.