Canoeing on the Edge

Moose Lake
Gorp.com
Light on the Boundary Waters
Light on the Boundary Waters


Location: Moose Lake is located 16 miles northeast of Ely, a scant 4 miles south of the Canadian border. To get there, follow the Fernberg Road 16 miles from the Voyageur Visitor Center to Forest Route 438 (Moose Lake Road). Turn left and drive north on this good blacktopped road for nearly 3 miles to the Public Landing and large parking area.

Daily Permit Quota: 27

Description: A good public campground is at Fall Lake, just off the Fernberg Road, about 13 miles toward Ely. This offers a good place to spend the night prior to your canoe trip. There is a fee.


Moose Lake is by far the busiest of all entry points into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. On more than one occasion I have passed well over 100 canoes on the Moose chain of lakes, and that includes neither those paddling in my direction nor the many motor boats used by fishermen in the area! Of the 3410 permits issued in 1992, 16% were issued to groups using motors. This was due in large part to the fact that the Moose chain is one of two major routes to the ever-popular Basswood Lake (the other is from Fall Lake). Motorboats are limited to 25 h.p. It is also the quickest link to Canada's Quetico Provincial Park, and that accounts for many of the paddlers using this busy entry point-the quickest access to Canadian Customs at Prairie Portage. Many resorts, outfitters and private cabins are located at the southwest end of the lake, and most of the once good campsites on the chain are now closed due to overuse.

Nevertheless, if all of these facts do not drive you away, you will find that the busy Moose Chain does lead you to some of the most beautiful, interesting and peaceful lakes and streams in all the BWCA. Don't expect to experience total solitude anywhere on either of the routes suggested below between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but, if sharing"your" lakes with other nature lovers doesn't bother you, you'll surely find these routes delightful.


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