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Backpacker Magazine – September 2010

Great Easy-to-Difficult Boundary Waters Paddling Trips

Want to test the waters before attempting a Primitive Management Area? Get some experience on these traditional Boundary Waters trips first.

by: Gustave Axelson

DIFFICULT: Louse River/ Frost River Loop
5 days, 50 miles
It's as good as guaranteed you won't see many other paddlers here. Your entry fee: a series of rugged portages that keeps the crowds at bay. Buck up, and you'll have moose sightings and luxurious campsites all to yourself. From Sawbill Lake, at the end of the Sawbill Trail Road near the town of Tofte, paddle four miles to the 480-rod (1.5-mile) Lujenida-to-Zenith portage. Find a poacher's wrecked plane 40 feet into the woods on Zenith Lake's north shore. From Zenith, head west to access the Louse River and a rapid-fire stretch of portages (nine within five miles). From the river's end, you'll paddle lakes with outstanding fishing--Trail, Boze, and Malberg. At Malberg, head north across seven tiny lakes (and eight portages) to Little Saganaga, a quiet lake with a plethora of campsites. Next, paddle east to Frost River. Keep an eye out for moose here as you float and portage to Frost Lake (find beach camping on the west shore). To end the trip, paddle south to link Cherokee Lake, Ada Lake, and Ada Creek back to Sawbill. Target May and June for higher river levels. Info Tofte Ranger District: (218) 663-8060; Outfitter Sawbill Canoe Outfitters: (218) 663-7150;

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