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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.

MODERATE: Otter Track Lake
3 days, 20 miles
The put-in for this long weekend, Saganaga Lake, is a 14,000-acre behemoth notorious for high winds and white caps. Take an outfitter’s shuttle across the lake (motorized boats are allowed in this area) if you don’t want to risk paddling into the blow, and be sure to make a reservation for a return shuttle. Then, after a paddle down Sag’s western arm and a few short portages, you’ll launch your canoe onto Otter Track. This is a popular destination (its waters glow a Caribbean turquoise on sunny days), so shoot to get here by early afternoon to pitch your tent on the one American campsite in the lower basin (the other site, in Canada, requires a Remote Area Border Crossing Permit). Or paddle another four miles to a cluster of sites in the upper basin at the far west end. In the upper basin, you’ll paddle through a canyon of forest and high cliffs, where murals of lichens decorate the light granite rock faces. Bonus: Just inside the channel to the upper basin, visit the old homestead of Benny Ambrose, one of the last hermits to live in the Boundary Waters. Info Gunflint Ranger District: (218) 387-1750; Outfitter Voyageur Canoe Outfitters: (888) 226-6348;

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