Canoeing on the Edge

Clearwater-Kawishiwi Loop

This little loop will take you southeast through Lake One and into Lake Two. Then you will leave this busy route and paddle south into a part of the BWCA that receives lighter use, from Rock Island Lake to Turtle Lake. From Turtle, you will portage into the southernmost route through the Boundary Waters and follow it northwest from Bald Eagle Lake to the South Kawishiwi River. You will walk your canoe up the shallow rapids and paddle through the quiet pools of the Kawishiwi, following its course northeast to the public landing on Lake One.

Although the beginning of this route receives heavy use, the remainder receives only light to moderate travel. Motors are prohibited throughout the route.

Fishermen will find walleye, northern pike, bass, and pan fish throughout much of the route.

Day 1: Lake One, portage 30 rods, pond, portage 40 rods, Lake Two, creek, portage 40 rods, creek, Rock Island Lake, portage 40 rods, pond, portage 240 rods, Clearwater Lake. If you can find your way through the confusing maze of islands and peninsulas on Lake One, guiding through the remainder of the route will be easy. Watch carefully for the portage connecting Lake 2 and Rock Island Lake. After paddling into the shallow creek about 20 rods, you'll find the beginning of the portage trail on the left. And after walking 40 rods, watch for the steep drop back down to the creek on the right. The trail continues from that point another 20 rods to a wider and deeper part of the creek, to use when the water level is too low at the first access. But this part of the trail is not as well maintained as the first 40 rods, and it doesn't get much use, so windfalls may obstruct the path. The final, long portage to Clearwater Lake is relatively level most of the way, but downhill at the end, where a nice sandy beach greets you. Clearwater Lake is aptly named, and you will find several nice campsites along its north shore. Try fishing for walleye here.

You may find this trip's route confusing from the beginning. Lake One, with its many islands and meandering bays, offers a sporty challenge to the map reader. From the landing, first bear to the left and then to the right as you pass through a very narrow channel en route to the main body of the lake. If confused by the many islands in the lake, use your compass and common sense, and don't treat the map as"gospel." Things won't look the way you think they should!

Day 2: Clearwater Lake, portage 252 rods, Turtle Lake, portage 186 rods, Bald Eagle Lake, rapids, Gabbro Lake, Little Gabbro Lake, portage 122 rods, South Kawishiwi River. Your first long portage is nearly level and nothing to worry about. The second, on the other hand, climbs steeply uphill from Turtle Lake before descending to Bald Eagle Lake. The short, swift rapids between Bald Eagle and Gabbro lakes can be easily shot in your canoe.

Day 3: South Kawishiwi River, portage 28 rods, river, portage 18 rods, river, portage 12 rods, river, portage 8 rods, river, portage 40 rods, river, portage 20 rods, river, portage 19 rods, Lake One. With normal water conditions, you may eliminate four of the portages along the Kawishiwi River by walking your canoe up the shallow rapids. The only two that must be portaged around are at the 8-rod and the 40-rod trails. Make certain that your last carry is the 19-rod path to Lake One. It is an easy mistake to take the 25-rod trail to Confusion Lake instead. Continue past the first portage that you pass on the right around a small island to the portage at the east end of the tiny bay.


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