Exploration of Basswood Lake
- Skill Level
- Entry Point
- # 24 – Fall Lake
- Portage Rods
- Longest Portage
This is a great route for canoeists who want to hit big, beautiful lakes with a minimum of portaging, and who doesn’t mind sharing a lake with a few motorboats. You have just two portages to get up to Pipestone Bay on Basswood Lake. From here you can explore, fish waters that have produced the state record northern pike, or do a day trip up to Basswood Falls. Basswood can quickly cast a spell on you, drawing you back year after year.
Detailed Route Info
Start from the Fall Lake landing at the Forest Service campground. Eight designated campsites are located on the northern quarter of Fall Lake, and these sites are great for a first or last night in the wilderness. They are often occupied during busy times in the summer, so plan to arrive early if you want to stay at one.
Leave Fall Lake by heading north to the 80-rod portage a mile from the Fall Lake Campground. Wind your way up through the islands and curves of Newton Lake and camp at one of the two designated campsites, or head on up to the 90-rod portage that drops into Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake. Both these portages are excellent and on a smooth trail. Once on Basswood you have almost unlimited places to explore and camp, and can certainly spend many days on this huge lake.
From here you have many options on where to travel. You can head west to the famous Jackfish Bay. To get here you can either wind through the little swamp connecting the middles of the two bays or paddle north to the end of Pipestone Bay and then circle back to the southwest to get into Jackfish.
At the north end of Pipestone and Jackfish bays you can also keep going toward Basswood Falls. You will escape motorized traffic once you pass through the convergence of Jackfish Bay and Pipestone Bay because motorboats are not allowed past the narrows.
Also, you can head east over a 70-rod portage into Back Bay and head south into Hoist Bay.
*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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