Canoeing on the Edge

Saganaga Lake

Location: From US Highway 61 in Grand Marais follow the Gunflint Trail 56 miles northwest to its intersection with Cook County Road 11. Turn right and follow this rough, winding, hilly gravel road north one mile to the public landing. There you'll find outhouses, a pay phone, and a store nearby. A fee is charged for parking next to the boat access.

Daily Permit Quota: 20

Description: An excellent place to spend the night before your trip is Trail's End Campground, located at the end of the Gunflint Trail, just beyond (west of) the Saganaga Lake turnoff. There is a campsite fee, and there are many campsites to accommodate the heavy traffic in this area. On the west side of the Seagull River, bordering the campground, is a vivid reminder of the Roy Lake Fire, which ravaged this part of the BWCA in 1976.

Saganaga Lake, part of the international boundary, is the busiest entry point in the eastern region of the Boundary Waters. It's a motor-designated lake, and many of the permits issued here are to groups using motorized craft. In spite of the large quota, a reservation is advisable during the peak periods of summer.

Travel into Canadian territory, outwith the entrance to Quetico Provincial Park at its west end, will require a $30 Remote AreaBorder Crossing (RABC) permit, otherwise known as a CanPass (call 807-624-2162 for more or visit: Many canoeists, though, use the lake only during the day, spending their nights at one of the many lodges and campgrounds along the Gunflint Trail.

Several private cabins, lodges and canoe outfitters are located along the southernmost part of Saganaga. You'll see the outfitter's high-powered towboats race past you on their way to Customs and Quetico Provincial Park with canoeists who prefer to save time and not to paddle across big Saganaga. These towing services do much to relieve the congestion that would otherwise occur on Saganaga Lake. But the rest of this mammoth lake is contained within the BWCA and there are no other monuments to civilization on the US side.


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