This is a primary canoe route into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). This is part of the Superior National Forest an is administered by the United States Forest Service (USFS). Permits are available from USFS and camping is at designated sites. The two portages involved are well used. Limited motor use is allowed up into Pipestone Bay of Basswood. Portages are able to accomodate up to 16 ft boats on portage wheels and thus very easy to follow and always clear. The route starts at the USFS campground/boat landing on Fall Lake. Once you pass Mile Island on Fall Lake, you are in the BWCA. The first portage is where Fall Lake out flows into Newton Lake. The outflow is actually a low head dam. It is under water and you won't normally see it. It is a hazard. Stay clear. Strong currents are present. Follow Newton to it's outflow which is a rapids that enters Pipestone Bay. Steep hill (for those pulling boats, it is known as Heart Attack Hill) as portage drops into Pipestone. NO MOTOR line starts part way up Pipestone. This puts you in position to access the Basswood River several nice water falls an rapids. Beware of current. Basswood River is border between US and Canada. Canadian side is Quetico Provincial Park. You need seperate permits to enter Quetico Park and must clear customs. There is a Canadian custom's an Quetico Ranger station on the east end of Basswood. This is a headwaters for a watershed that ends in Hudson Bay! It is an easy route but use caution near rapids and falls. They have been deadly. They can suck unsuspecting people into danger before you know your in trouble.
Just got back from a completing the loop in 3 days/2 nights. Great trail. Easily followed except for a few areas. Note that the Swamp crossing on the east side of angleworm lake is litterally a beaver dam crossing. NOT a bridge of any sort. It must have washed out or something. We took a 45 min detour because we didnt think the dam was the crossing. Beautiful trail, lots of ups and downs. Little bit of everything. In my opinion the West side of the lake was a nicer/ more scenic hike. We stayed at whiskey jack campsite and the west angleworm camp that is just across the lake from another campsite. Whiskey Jacks site was great, poor fishing, and a bit chilly due to facing north. Angleworm west was a awesome site. water was a little bit away from camp but not bad. Caught an eater northern angleworm.
I haven't done the full trail in many years. like the post before me pointed out, this is not a loop trail. it starts at snowbank lake, ends at the far north end of the gunflint. whoever wrote this review should actually hike this trail and see how moderate it is. the comment before me said it's a 2 day hike. well it can be done in 2 days, why hike a trail at a force march? isn't part of the experience to enjoy the terrain and natural surroundings. I would allow a week to cover the distance. the scenery was incredible when I last did it but that was before the storm and fires changed it. the biggest tree in Minnesota is or was a huge white pine. there was also a black forest, I don't know if either survived.
I have competed this trail 3 times and have just done a in and back for a short weekend twice. This is a trail that can be somewhat challenging with the ups and down, but the views and changes in scenery are amazing. The campsites are all very nice, if you get the chance, plan to stay at the Whisky Jack campsite. I would stay away from the one at the end of Home Lake, just because it is off the water and in the wood where the bugs are a little heavy. The trail is well worn and there is very little chance of getting off trial. On the weekends in the summer you can see a little traffic on that lake, so if you are into the solitude aspect, I would suggest going on a weekday. I will continue to go back to this trail just because it is a great hike and easily done in a weekend.
It was a great hike in the first week of October. Spent 2 nights there. Beautiful reflection during sunrise and sunset. We camped right on the lake. Most part pretty easy to follow the trail. Only a couple spots are a bit confusing. Overall, a great 2-3 day causal hike.
My wife and I enjoyed this very calm trail. You are next to the Kadunce River the entire time. There are nice little spots off of the trail where you can take in a cool view of the cliffs, water, and the fall trees. We even saw a little cave that had a really cool campfire at the mouth.
Did a partial weekend trip up to little shell with 3 hikers, Myselff with good experience, one with quite a few trips, one with minimal backpacking but much canoe experience. Bring a map and compass and know how to use them as this a a relatively primitive trail. Get a good DNR map NOT the printable ones online. Watch for rock cairns and sawn trees. These are the ONLY markers. Comparing this to the SHT, it is much more "out there" meaning you are litterally in the the bush with, at some points, a very tight trail that can be easily lost. With that said it has been my favorite backpacking trail I have done, definately will be back to do the full. Note that the campsite along the first portage is impassable due to the portage being flooded 1/2 through, unless you like wading 4' water/
We hiked this one in July, and were disappointed. Part of the trail was submerged and we couldn't get through the marshy area. The biggest issue, though, was the TICKS. They were horrible! I grew up being outside and have had the normal amount of tick interactions as a child and as an adult on this trip. The trail at Crab Lake was infested. I probably had 30 ticks on me that I just brushed off, and I was finding roaming ticks probably two hours afterwards (and after I'd shaken out my clothes and brushed my hair). I don't think I will ever attempt this trail again. However, my dog enjoyed the water (even with the ticks!) and the owners of the lodge near the trailhead are wonderful!
Check the local postings about this one! There was a windstorm in July, and this trail is not yet fully clear. We hiked as far as we could (probably only about 2 miles in and back round trip) since we were there. This and the other nearby trail are not well groomed--we could tell the the often narrow trail isn't heavily used. We wouldn't recommend it in low light even when clear of the tree debris. We will try again, though, when the downed trees are removed and hopefully augment our review! Gorgeous area.
Wonderful hike! We didn't have much time and so hiked to Dry Falls, enjoying the views along the way. We saw loads of birds, and we enjoyed the trail itself with the moderately challenging terrain and forest setting. My husband actually said that this was his favorite trail in Minnesota!
Well this is a hiking trip I would forget. I was visiting family and came up for my grandma's 90th birthday. Well the day before my dad asked me if i wanted to pick up some high points on the way home. I asked my wife and see agreed. Well i started mapping out everything. So it we left and drove across the state which took 10 hours. when we were an hour from the trail head, we started getting flood warning and thunderstorm warnings on our phones. Also the darkest clouds i had ever seen in my life where above us. It poured rained for 15 minutes straight. It was raining so hard I pulled off the road for the first time. But the rain let up and we continued onward. We managed to get to the trail head at 8 PM. My dad assured us we were fine since it was the middle of the summer and it doesn't get dark in Minnesota until midnight. So my wife and I went down the trail. 30 minutes on the trail the skies opened up. Good thing I came prepared with stuff to keep us dry, and the trail got dark, and i had plenty of flashlights to guide our way in the dark. When climbing the mountain, we were literally hiking up a waterfall. We were pretty much soaked from knee down. When we got up to top it had actually stopped raining. We took our pictures up there and watched the lighting all around us and heard the thunder. We made our way back down, and when we got back onto the trail. It was flooded. parts of the trail was flooded almost up to our waist. but it was mostly knee to ankle deep in most of the flooded sections. We laughed about it,. Finally got back to the trail head around midnight. We didn't get to fully enjoy the scenery, but we made a memory for a lifetime that is for sure.
We did this hike in June, and only the Oberg Mountain section, but the views were absolutely beautiful. The hike has more elevation than most in the area, but we took our time as there are such great views as you round each bend. Very stunning, and not too strenuous. Definitely worth the drive from Duluth.