Clearwater Lake Campsite Reviews
In hopes of helping future paddlers better understand their camping options in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness we are going to be periodically releasing reviews of the campsites in our vicinity. As with any review some subjectivity comes along with the territory, but there are also some basics that can be easily measured; the number of tent pads, the canoe landing, the fire grate area and the view from camp. There are dozens of intangible aspects to each individual BWCA campsite and we wont be trying to quantify those into any kind of review. Making a campsite your own is one of the things that makes camping in the Boundary Waters special, and no review of a site will ever change that.
For obvious reasons we will begin with Clearwater Lake.
Tent Pads: 3 | Landing: C+ | Fire Grate Area: C- | Overall: B-
The first campsite on Clearwater Lake can be a bit tricky to find, which gives it a private feel, unfortunately this privacy also blocks views of the lake, and palisades. The path that leads to the latrine continues on and hooks into the Border Route Trail, which is an added bonus on windy days.
Tent Pads: 2 | Landing: A | Fire Grate Area: C- | Overall: C-
The second campsite on Clearwater has a pretty “rustic” feel to it. Considering the view from camp looks back at private cabins the minimal seating around the fire and two pretty uneven tent pads, this may be one to pass on. It has an excellent landing though!
Tent Pads: 2+ | Landing: A | Fire Grate Area: B | Overall: B
The third site is tucked around a point in a bay on the north side of the lake and offers an intimate setting compared to some of the other more wide open spots on the lake. A nice sloping rock makes for easy loading of the canoe. There is a large grassy area right next to the fire grate area making for not so private tenting options.
Tent Pads: 2 | Landing: D | Fire Grate Area: D- | Overall: D-
This site is very hard to find, which is probably partially the reason it seems to never get used. The other reason is probably because it is tiny and on the shabby side. If you want to feel like you are truly roughing it camp here.
Tent Pads: 3 | Landing: B | Fire Grate Area: A+ | Overall: A
This is the premier spot on the lake, and during the summer can be difficult to find open because of its popularity. The setting and view from the fire grate area are tough to beat while the tent pads though seemingly numerous can be a bit on the lumpy side. Safe cliff jumping right from camp is a cherry on top too.
Tent Pads: 3+ | Landing: A | Fire Grate Area: B+ | Overall: A-
The second to last spot on the lake is a classic Boundary Waters campsite. An easy landing with a safe and flat layout. Beautiful views down the lake and a bit off the main flow of paddlers make it an almost perfect spot.
Tent Pads: 4 | Landing: C+ | Fire Grate Area: B+ | Overall: B
The last spot on the Clearwater is very similar the site #5 with better tent pads. The fire grate area sits right up above the water which is always a plus. It is directly across from the portage into West Pike and at a bit of a pinch point, so you will have canoes paddling right by your site. There is a trail that ties into the Border Route Trail as well.