Brule to Long Island Loop
- Skill Level
- Entry Point
- Portage Rods
- Longest Portage
This fine trip crosses some of the most remote interior portions of the BWCAW. Due to its length and a number of challenging portages, this route is best for experienced wilderness paddlers and returning visitors.
Detailed Route Info
This first stretch of paddling will send you north across Brule Lake, through the “Cone” Lakes, and up to infrequently visited Davis Lake. The two biggest challenges of this leg are the possibility of significant waves on Brule Lake, plus the certainty that the 176-rod portage into Davis Lake will be a long, tough haul. Try to make your crossing of Brule early in the morning when winds are typically low. A wind out of the west will build huge rollers that make north-south traffic impossible to open-topped canoes. To be safe, your schedule should allow for a day of being wind bound on Brule.
You will soon forget how difficult the portage was to get into Davis because the mile-long portage out of Davis is much harder and twice as long.
And the portages keep coming, as you will soon be on a190-rod portage to Muskeg Lake from Kiskadinna. From here, the portages are fairly short and all your hard work will be rewarded when you come to Long Island Lake, which has great scenery, plenty of campsites and great fishing for lake trout and northern pike.
Upon leaving Long Island Lake, you will enter the Long Island River, where you will go over a couple of short portages before the river widens out to form Gordon Lake. From here, consider taking a 138-rod portage west over to Unload Lake if you would like to spend a night on Frost Lake, which has a rare sandy on its western shore.
If you continue south (or return from Frost Lake), the next major body of water you’ll come to is Cherokee Lake — a lake many people love for the scenery and fishing.
The 140-rod portage over to Sitka from Cherokee will get your heart pumping and require some fancy footwork to navigate the rocky path. By now you might have mixed feelings about portages. The good news is that the remainder of carries are short and easy as you make your way back to Brule Lake and back to the starting point.
*Route information provided courtesy of Dan Pauly, and have been modified from his book, Exploring the Boundary Waters: A Trip Planner and Guide to the BWCAW. University of Minnesota Press, 2004
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