Explore the best trails in Minnesota with detailed reviews, photos, trail maps, and driving directions curated by hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
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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.
Matt R. on Skills Park
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.