Long Island Lake in the BWCA

     It had been awhile since I had last been on Long Island Lake in the Boundary Waters. I didn’t remember how pretty and peaceful it was. After I arrived with 4 teenaged girls it wasn’t quite as peaceful anymore but just as pretty. 

     Long Island Lake was the destination for a recent trip I went on with my niece and her friends. My niece had been on previous BWCA canoe trips but the 3 other girls had never been in the canoe country. I must say they caught on to the paddling and portaging quickly and did an excellent job.

     We started our trip from the landing for Cross Bay on Round Lake Road.  It’s just a quick paddle before you get to the first 50 rod uphill portage and then another quick paddle to the next 40 rod portage into Ham Lake.  Out of Ham Lake is a 24 rod portage into Cross Bay Lake which is the actual entry point into the BWCA.  There are two nice campsites in Cross Bay Lake but neither of them are very private due to the fact groups coming and going anywhere paddle right past them.

    A 56 rod portage takes you out of Cross Bay Lake and into Rib Lake that has just one campsite. The campsite is a short jaunt up a path and the lakeshore is protected by trees.  A 37 rod portage leads paddlers into campsite free Lower George Lake and a 28 rod portage into Karl.   Karl Lake has a nice looking campsite but it’s right next to the 35 rod portage into Long Island.  You can paddle into Long Island as well.  

     The portages challenged all of us. They were a little muddy and a little rocky like most portages are but the fact we had to double portage and sometimes triple portage made them even more exhausting.  One of the girls has had shoulder surgery and wasn’t able to carry anything but a light pack and paddles across the portages.  That left the four of us with 2 canoes, a food pack, an equipment pack and 3 personal packs.  

     Depending upon how efficient or inefficient we were at each portage dictated the number of trips I’d take across.  I was able to get the girls portaging one of the canoes but unloading and loading was time consuming.  Sometimes I’d take 2 lighter personal packs and stack them on my back to save a trip on the portage.  Needless to say we were exhausted from paddling and portaging by the time we got to the campsite on Long Island Lake. 

     Their tent was dark and quiet before the sun went down and no one moved the next morning for a very long time.  I did a little fishing and caught a northern pike, we went for a swim at the sand beach and spent the day relaxing in hammocks at the campsite.  We all enjoyed Smores around a campfire before bedtime.

     Then we packed everything up and made the trip in reverse back to our vehicle at the landing.  On the way out we stopped at a campsite to swim and have lunch in the hot sunshine. In all it was a fantastic adventure with a great group of girls.  I look forward to the time I can return to Long Island Lake for a longer stay.

     Find photos from our adventure on Facebook!

BWCA swimming fun