One Way on the
South Kawishiwi River
- Skill Level
- Entry Point
- Portage Rods
- Longest Portage
This river route is great for those looking for an alternative to the primarily lake travel found in most of the BWCAW. It takes you west to the South Kawishiwi River (exiting at Entry Point #32) along some of the best river paddling in the Boundary Waters. This journey can be easily shortened by stopping at one of six other entries along the way over to the South Kawishiwi.
Detailed Route Info
Start this route by heading into Isabella lake, which is a great place to spend an evening.
When you are ready to leave Isabella Lake, take a few portages around a series of rapids, you’ll be in the vicinity of Rice Lake. Consider camping at the campsites along the Isabella River before you reach Quadga Lake. Relatively few campsites in the BWCAW are along little rivers like the Isabella, and these sites offer you a nice contrast to typically lakeshore camping.
South of Quadga Lake, the Isabella River continues through a series of major, hazardous rapids. Portage on the north side of the rapids and fork to the right and take the 99-rod trail up to Quadga Lake. Quadga has four designated campsites, and good fishing for walleye and northern pike.
Paddle 8 miles and go over a series of portages from Quadga Lake to central Bald Eagle Lake. The final 178-rod portage leading from the Isabella River into Bald Eagle Lake is just before the rapids on the south side. Be careful not to land at the campsite just before the portage. Paddle downstream 50 yards past the campsite to find the real entry to the portage on your left. This is a fairly long portage, and the longest one found on the Isabella River.
Move on to Gabbro Lake when you are done exploring Bald Eagle. Gabbro is a beautiful Boundary Waters gem. On the southwest shore of Gabbro about a mile past the entry from Bald Eagle Lake, is a great swimming beach with a relatively large sandy shore.
Take the 278-rod portage over to Bruin Lake. Next, an easy 13-rod portage drops you into the South Kawishiwi River from Bruin. Paddle south along the river and head up the 140-rod portage to the parking lot for the South Kawishiwi River Entry Point (# 32), where you should have left a second vehicle or arranged to be picked up by an outfitter.
*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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