Cherokee Lake Loop
- Skill Level
- Entry Point
- Portage Rods
- Longest Portage
If you want eye candy, you won’t find better scenery anywhere in the BWCAW. This natural loop out of the Baker Lake entry heads north to Cherokee Lake, then southwest to Sawbill before returning east to where you began on Baker. The areas you will visit are accessible from a number of different entry points, so this route is well traveled during the peak of summer visitors. For good reason.
Detailed Route Info
After a series of short portage and some paddles to Kelly Lake you can stay at one of its four designated campsites, all clustered along the south shore. If you want to keep going, head north to Jack Lake, paddling through a long lazy stretch of beautiful water. Although shallow, the narrow central channel should normally provide plenty of space and depth for canoe travel except during the driest of years.
After paddling to the north end of Kelly Lake you will cross four portages to reach South Temperance Lake. The first three portages are all relatively short. The fourth portage of 240-rod portage into South Temperance Lake is long but easy.
You’ll continue through several mid-length portages to reach Cherokee Lake, which is a favorite among many travelers to the BWCA. Its large, island-studded surface includes 19 designated campsites, and easy extended route connections can be made over to four neighboring lakes.
A well-maintained 180-rod portage leads from Cherokee Creek to Scoop Lake, which will lead you south into Ada Creek and eventually Sawbill Lake, which is one of the most popular entry points.
After paddling around Sawbill, you’ll take a portage to Smoke, which is relatively easy, as is the next portage to Burnt Lake. The real challenge in this segment is from Burnt Lake over to Kelly Lake, where the trail goes up and down and will give your quads a real workout. Your return trip out of Burnt Lake is simply the reverse of your journey in from Baker Lake.
*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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