Canoeing on the Edge

Trout Lake

Location: Trout Lake is accessible from Lake Vermilion, about 15 airline miles due west of Ely. From Ely follow State Highway 1-169 west for 26 miles to the junction of 1-169 and County Road 77, about 4= miles west of Tower, Minnesota. Turn right on County Road 77 and follow this black-topped road northwest for 11.8 miles to the public landing on Moccasin Point. After 10 miles, at the Y intersection of the Arrowhead Point and Moccasin Point roads, veer left and continue for the final 1.8 miles to the public access. There you'll find a large private parking lot operated by Moccasin Point Resort, with gasoline pumps, telephone booth, snack bar, and store. If you haven't secured your BWCA permit in advance, it may be picked up at the resort.

Daily Permit Quota: 14 (3 beyond Trout Lake)

Description: Public campgrounds on or near Lake Vermilion's south shore are located at Tower-Soudan State Park, McKinley Park, and Tower Park. There is also a national forest campground at Pfeifer Lake, 10 miles southwest of Tower. Any of these will provide you with a convenient place to spend the night prior to the canoe trip. All are less than twenty miles from the public access on Vermilion. Camping fees are charged at all of them.

Vermilion is a very popular lake, dotted with private cabins and resorts. It is particularly attractive to aquatic motorists, many of whom travel into Trout Lake, where there is a 25-horsepower limit on motor size. Of all entry points into the BWCA, Trout Lake boasts the highest percentage of motor boats and the lowest percentage of paddlers. Of the 782 overnight permits issued in 1992, only 74 went to paddlers—a mere 9% of the total. Since motorboats are restricted to Trout Lake, and since Trout is the 11th busiest entry point in the BWCA, this all means that you may find some congestion, mostly in the form of motorboats, on Trout Lake.

Nevertheless, it also means that very few permits are issued to groups that can penetrate the lakes and rivers beyond Trout Lake. The conclusion: you can quickly pass through one of the busiest and noisiest lakes in the Boundary Waters and into one of the least traveled and most pristine areas within the BWCA, offering as much solitude and bountiful wildlife as you should ever hope to encounter. If you can tolerate the first and last days, you will surely find a wilderness trip from this entry point to be outstanding.


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