Although it’s just the tip of the iceberg as to what the epic BWCAW has to offer, you can at least say “been there, done that!” With so much to see and do along the Gunflint Trail and in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, it can be a challenge to decide where to start. Whether you are staying with us or coming up from Grand Marais for the day, Clearwater Canoe Outfitters can help you enjoy a day on the water.
SCHEDULE & BOOK YOUR CANOE OR KAYAK RENTALS!
We have compiled a few of our favorite self-guided day trips and listed them below in order of length and difficulty, with the easier trips at the top. We can outfit you with everything you need. Give us a call or drop-in and we’ll get you set-up. You can also book your rentals online – links at top and bottom of this page. Let us know your day trip plans when you arrive and our outfitting team will assist and direct you to your destination.
Standing at the edge of Clearwater Lake in front of our historic lodge looking east, two 400 foot towering basalt cliffs dominate the scene. A short 20 minute paddle will find you at the base of the first cliff, and at the trail that leads to the top. The trail does ascend steeply right away but then levels out for a more gradual climb and takes most people about 15 to 20 minutes. The views into Canada and back towards the lodge are worth every step. The top of the palisades is one of the first places to find blueberries in the summer. This day trip averages 2 hours to complete and can utilize canoe or kayak..
Mountain Lake Overlook
This trip also starts from our waterfront and heads 4 miles down beautiful Clearwater Lake before turning north and landing the canoe at the portage to Mountain Lake. After leaving the canoe and hiking half way across the portage you will turn left on the Border Route Trail and hike another 3/4 of a mile. The trail climbs and drops a couple of times before climbing steeply up to the vista. The massive view down Mountain Lake and Canada is second to none. This trip averages 4 to 5 hours to complete and can utilize canoe or kayak.
Rose Falls & Stairway Portage
After a short shuttle for your party and your rental canoe(s) to West Bearskin Lake (east entry) your adventure begins. From the east end of West Bearskin paddle the 2 mile length of the lake and look for the portage into Duncan Lake. The 75 rod (.25 miles) portage is well traveled, easy to find and relatively flat. On the other side, your route will turn you north for another mile paddle to the Stairway Portage. You can leave your canoe at the landing and walk to the falls from there. A short steep climb up the Border Route Trail to the east above the falls leads to incredible views of untouched wilderness and Canada beyond. This trip averages 5 to 6 hours to complete and is for canoes only.
*Be sure to book your shuttle for this trip as well – details at bottom of this page
The trip to Johnson Falls is for those who want to spend the day paddling and portaging to a remote set of waterfalls. This is a 10 mile roundtrip with a total of 6 portages (3 each way) and a 1/4 mile hike to the falls. Starting from our dock at Clearwater Lodge you will paddle a mile and take a 2/3 mile portage to Caribou Lake. After the 3 mile paddle down Caribou you will make a short portage to Little Caribou Lake and then another 1/4 mile portage to Pine Lake. On the far west end of Pine Lake you will find the trail that leads up to the falls. This is a full day trip, but the two tiered falls which are perfect for swimming and relaxing are definitely worth the work. This trip averages 6 to 8 hours to complete and is for canoes only.
These self-guided day trips are easy to schedule. Determine how many and what type of canoe(s) or kayak(s) you need and either call us or reserve your watercraft online by clicking the link. Aluminum Canoes are great for beginners and those not planning to portage (Palisades and Mountain Lake Trips). Kevlar are recommended for the Rose And Johnson Falls trips due to the portages (wet entry and exit required for kevlar canoe rentals – See explanation on booking page). Let us know your day trip plans when you arrive and our outfitting team will assist and direct you to your destination.
Trips to Rose Falls will require a shuttle to and from the launch at West Bearskin (east) so be sure to reserve that as well with your canoe reservation if you are planning that trip to ensure you are on the schedule. Alternatively you can also let us know when you arrive as we are usually able to accommodate these shuttles with shorter notice, but cannot guarantee. Click the SHUTTLES menu on the left side of the booking screen after you reserve your canoes (this shuttle is at the bottom of the shuttle booking selections), or just click this link.