Pike and Pine Lake Loop
- Skill Level
- Entry Point
- Portage Rods
- Longest Portage
The operative word on this magnificent journey is “big”. It’s a big loop with big lakes connected by big portages. Depending upon wind strength and direction, it may also have big waves. If you have little experience but huge packs, it is also a big mistake! But strong paddlers with light packs will have a great trip.
Detailed Route Info
Put in at the public access on Clearwater Lake, soak up one of the best views in the BWCA and paddle east. In a quarter mile you will officially enter the BWCA. The 218-rod portage from Clearwater Lake to West Pike Lake is mostly flat. The same goes with the next 161-rod portage over to East Pike Lake, which is almost perfectly level. The water in both East Pike and West Pike Lakes is very clear and host a healthy population of fish, evidenced by the number of osprey and bald eagle here.
The 207-rod portage to John Lake is the last of the long portages … for a while! After this you’ll head over a couple of short carries into Pine Lake, where eleven designated campsites are available on the sunny north shore. For those who love to fish, head over to Vale or Gadwall Lakes. There is no overnight camping here, but these lakes are regularly stocked with brook trout.
After you caught a few trout, take the 80-rod portage from Pine Lake to Little Caribou Lake then another short 25-rod portage to Caribou Lake. Just when you got used to short portages, you’ll come face to face with a final, 200-rod portage back to Clearwater Lake, where you began your journey.
*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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