Canoeing on the Edge

Alice-Thomas Route

This interesting loop penetrates the remote interior portion of the Boundary Waters where motors are not allowed and where few canoeists travel. From Lake One, you will paddle southeast through Lakes Two, Three, and Four to the island-studded bays of beautiful Lake Insula. From the north end of Insula, you will continue northeast up the Kawishiwi River, then north through Elbow and Adams Lakes, and camp on isolated Boulder Lake, your farthest point east. Turning back to the west, you will paddle through Fraser and Thomas Lakes, portage across the Kekekabic Trail, and float down the shallow stream to Ima Lake. From Ima, you will travel southwest through the tiny lakes leading to Disappointment, Parent, and Snowbank Lakes. Your canoe trip will end at the public landing on Snowbank Lake, five miles by road from your origin at the Lake One Landing. Unless you have made arrangements to have a vehicle waiting, your trip will end with a five-mile hike.

All along this route, fishing is good for northern pike and walleye. Lake trout are also found in Thomas and Snowbank lakes. The largest fish I have caught was pulled from the Kawishiwi River east of Lake Insula—a northern pike that stole three lures before he finally met his match.

Day 1: Lake One, portage 30 rods, pond, portage 45 rods, Lake Two, Lake Three, Lake Four, portage 20 rods, Kawishiwi River, portage 25 rods, river, portage 10 rods, river, Hudson Lake. (See comments for Day 1, Clearwater-Kawishiwi Loop.) You will see many other travelers this day, but most of them go no farther than the numbered lakes. In spite of the traffic, moose are commonly seen throughout the area.

Day 2: Hudson Lake, portage 105 rods, Lake Insula, portage 18 rods, Kawishiwi River, Alice Lake, portage 20 rods, Kawishiwi River, portage 90 rods, river. The southwest end of Lake Insula. may be confusing to even an experienced map reader. Use your compass, if necessary, and follow a general heading, instead of trying to account for every little island you see. You will find a display of Indian rock paintings south of your last portage this day, on the west shore of the Kawishiwi River. Several good campsites are nearby.

Day 3: Kawishiwi River, portage 15 rods, river, portage 15 rods, Trapline Lake, portage 30 rods, Beaver Lake, portage 90 rods, Adams Lake, Boulder Creek, portage 15 rods, creek, Boulder Lake. You will see few, if any, other people after you veer north from the Kawishiwi River. Between Adams and Boulder lakes, there may be a couple of Movers, in addition to the 15-rod portage.

Day 4: Boulder Lake, portage 220 rods, Cap Lake, portage 60 rods, Roe Lake, portage 42 rods, Sagus Lake, portage 65 rods, Fraser Lake, Thomas Lake, portage 5 rods, pond, portage 10 rods, Thomas Creek, portage 10 rods, creek, portage 10 rods, Hatchet Lake, portage 50 rods, Ima Lake. Your first long portage will split after 135 rods of hiking. The right trail leads to Ledge Lake, so bear to the left for 85 more rods to Cap Lake. When you enter Thomas Lake, traffic will increase. If the water level is not too low, the second and third 10-rod portages between Thomas and Hatchet lakes may be eliminated by walking or lining your canoe down the shallow rapids. Ima Lake is a popular one, so find a campsite as early as possible.

Day 5: Ima Lake, portage 5 rods, Jordan Lake, portage 55 rods, Cattyman Lake, portage 10 rods, Adventure Lake, portage 40 rods, Jitterbug Lake, portage 15 rods, Ahsub Lake, portage 25 rods, Disappointment Lake, portage 85 rods, Parent Lake, portage 80 rods, Snowbank Lake. If the water level is high enough, you may be able to eliminate the 10-rod portage between Cattyman and Adventure lakes by paddling through the interconnecting channel. Rainbow trout and brook trout are stocked in Ahsub Lake, and Parent Lake is known for its good walleye fishing.


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