Powwow Trail
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Nearest Entry Point: Powwow Trail #86 Fishing: Isabella River, Quadga Lake, Pose Lake, South Wilder Lake, North Wilder Lake, Lake Three, other small lakes
Maps: Fisher F-4; McKenzie #18 and #19 Trail Water Views: Isabella River, Quadga Lake, Pose Lake, South Wilder Lake, North Wilder Lake, Lake Three, other small lakes and creeks
Fire History: 2011 - Pagami Creek Fire
Wildlife Seen on Visit: Wolf scat
Campsites: 4 (1 visited) Highest Trail Elevation: About 1,660 feet. (About 580 feet NW of the E most point along the loop part of the trail. This is just NW of the former connection to the currently unpassable old east loop of the Powwow Trail, about midway between The Wye and Pose Lake.)
Last Visited: May 12, 2023;
Previous Visit(s): July 25, 2021
Scenic Overlooks: Isabella River, Quadga Lake, Pose Lake, South Wilder Lake, North Wilder Lake, Lake Three, other small lakes and streams, many marshes and ponds
To Horseshoe Lake/Lake Three: Walk the 20 rod portage
To Harbor/North Wilder Lake: Walk the 75 rod portage
To North Wilder Lake/South Wilder Lake: Walk the 160 rod portage
To Isabella Lake/Isabella River: Walk the 40 rod portage
Trailheads: BWCA Entry Point 86 - Powwow Trail

Powwow Trail

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Kawishiwi and Tofte Ranger Districts

Campsite 1: (#1927) - On south side of the Isabella River
Campsite 2: (#2265) - Pose Lake Campsite
Campsite 3: (#2224) - Just south of Horseshoe Lake/Lake Three portage on Lake Three
Campsite 4: (#1936) - Northwest site on Quadga Lake
Campsite 5: (#2264) - South Wilder Lake - Western end of lake on north shore
Campsite 6: (#2230) - North Wilder Lake - Just north of portage to Harbor Lake
Campsite 7: (#1518) - Horseshoe Lake - North shore on point just east of Lake Three portage
Campsite 8: (#2263) - Rock of Ages Lake - North end of lake
Campsite 9: (#2262) - Path Lake - North shore
Campsite 10: (#2261) - Mirror Lake - South end of lake on west shoreline
Campsite 11: (#2260) - Superstition Lake - Middle of east shoreline
Campsite 12: (#2259) - Campfire Lake - East shoreline
Campsite 13: (#Unknown) - Diana Lake - East shoreline just south of channel to Wagner Lake
Campsite 14: (#2258) - Marathon Lake - South shoreline

The Powwow Trail is named after Powwow Lake. Powwow Lake is in the Fungus Lake Primitive Management Area. The Trail is made up of a 2.7 mile trail known as "The Stick" or "The Stem" that begins at the trailhead parking lot near Lake Isabella and stretches north until intersecting "The Loop" part of the trail at an intersection known as "The Wye" or "Y". "The Loop" can then be traveled in either direction making a full semi-circular route, eventually bringing hikers back to "The Wye". This loop section is 25.4 miles in length. A complete hike of the Powwow Trail from trailhead start to trailhead finish ends up being 29.9 miles. The restored part of the Powwow Trail is known as the western loop. Before the 2011 Pagami Creek Fire, there used to be a second loop known logically as the eastern loop. This eastern loop had already fallen into disrepair due to lack of maintenance, but the fire finished it off. The eastern loop of the Powwow Trail has not been restored. Powwow Lake, for which the trail is named, was along this eastern loop of the trail. There was a third smaller loop located between Pose Lake and the Arrow Lakes. This little loop was about 7.7 miles around and provided access to Arrow Lake 2 (Middle Arrow Lake), Arrow Lake 3 (Lower Arrow Lake) and Ahmoo Creek.

The Powwow Trail was created from a series of old logging roads that wound their way through the recently logged forests of the area in 1977. The entire trail was completed by 1981. Much of it was built by the Youth Conservation Corp. The trail existed from the completion of its construction in 1981 until 2011. In the Fall of 2011 a massive wildfire sparked by lightning swept through the area, obliterating most of the Powwow Trail. This is known as the Pagami Creek Fire.

After the fire, plans were created to restore the Powwow Trail. After several years of work, mostly by volunteers of the Boundary Waters Advisory Committee, the western loop of the Powwow Trail is now fully open to hikers and is being regularly maintained. Thank you volunteers!

The restored trail has been divided into logical sections on this website and they can be explored below.

Hiking the Powwow Trail


Regardless of which direction you plan to hike "The Loop" portion of the Powwow Trail, you must hike "The Stick" first in order to reach "The Loop". "The Stick" is 2.7 miles long and is divided into two sections.
Trailhead to the Isabella River Crossing (1.0 miles)
Isabella River Crossing to "The Wye" (1.7 miles)


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Powwow Trail 0A
Trailhead signage. These signs replaced the one below sometime after July 2021. The trail starts just to the right of the signs between the boulders (May 12, 2023).

Powwow Trail 0
Kiosk at the trailhead. It survived the Pagami Creek Fire (July 25, 2021).

Powwow Trail 1
Start of the Powwow Trail. That jack pine growing between the two boulders there is the first of about "a few million" you will see as you hike the trail (July 25, 2021).

Powwow Trail from the trailhead parking lot northward to the Isabella River crossing (July 25, 2021).

Powwow Trail 3
Typical view along this section of the trail (July 25, 2021).

Powwow Trail 3A
About a half mile along the trail from the trailhead, you'll come across this sign. This marks the boundary line of the BWCA (May 12, 2023).

Powwow Trail 4
Just before reaching the Isabella River, there is a campsite on the left (west) side of the trail. This campsite can be used by Powwow Trail hikers and by paddlers (July 25, 2021).

Powwow Trail 5
As you pass the campsite, looking further down the trail to the north, you will see the bridge over the Isabella River (July 25, 2021).

Powwow Trail 6
View from bridge looking upstream to the east toward Isabella Lake (July 25, 2021).

Powwow Trail 6A
Similar view from the bridge as shown above, but during very high water (May 12, 2023).

Powwow Trail 7
Shortly after crossing the bridge heading northbound, you will have to cross this secondary river channel. There is usually a simple log bridge here, but if that has washed away, there is a series of rocks to step on to make your way over the river. This is a view with extremely low water levels.

Powwow Trail 7
Similar view of the secondary channel as shown in the photo above, but this time with high water levels in the river (May 12, 2023).


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Powwow Trail 8
The log bridge and the stepping stones (just visible to right of bridge behind the bush). Just after crossing the river here, you will come to a four-way trail intersection. This is where the Powwow Trail intersects the 42 rod portage between Lake Isabella and the Isabella River. Keep going straight ahead down the Powwow Trail.

Powwow Trail 11
The last glimpse you will have of the Isabella River headed northbound until you come back this way on your southbound return trip. This is about 400 feet north of the Isabella River crossing.

Starting at the 42 rod portage trail between Lake Isabella and the Isabella River (just north of the bridge crossing), continue mostly north until reaching "The Wye" where "The Stick" part of the trail meets "The Loop".

Powwow Trail 9
Looking to the west at a low lying area. Perhaps used to be an old lake bed.

Powwow Trail 2
Looking to the southeast. This image is taken about 3,900 feet south of "The Wye". You can just make out Lake Isabella in the far distance (just slightly right of center) about 0.75 miles away.

Powwow Trail 10
View to the west from about 1300 feet south of "The Wye". Out in that marsh runs a small creek that flows off to the southwest and eventually drains into Pelt Lake. Pelt Lake lies about 1/2 mile to the southwest of this location.

Powwow Trail 12
View to the east about 800 feet before reaching "The Wye". The trail passes through several stretches of some very tall marsh grass in this area. Makes footing difficult since you can't see where you are placing your feet. There are a few big holes that you can hopefully avoid stepping in. A pole or walking stick will be useful here. Also, the trail has some muddy sections in this area. How much depends on the season and recent rainfall.

Powwow Trail 13
A beaver pond with a beaver's lodge (far right), just before you reach "The Wye" intersection.

Powwow Trail 14
"The Wye" intersection set in a thicket of jack pine. Heading to the right will take you counterclockwise around "The Loop". Left of course will mean traveling "The Loop" in a clockwise direction. It's 25.4 miles around either way you decide to go.

"THE LOOP" - Clockwise Direction

The Powwow Trail can also be hiked in the counterclockwise direction.

Select a section of the Powwow Trail to hike:
"The Wye" to the Pose Lake Campsite Spur Trail (3.0 miles)
Pose Creek Campsite Spur Trail to the Pose Creek Crossing (0.9 miles)
Pose Creek Crossing to Wilder Creek Crossing (3.1 miles)
Wilder Creek Crossing to the North Wilder Lake (1.0 miles)
North Wilder Lake to the Lake Three/Horseshoe Lake Portage (2.9 miles)
Lake Three/Horseshoe Lake Portage to Lake Three Campsite Spur Trail (0.1 miles)
Lake Three Campsite Spur Trail to the Rock of Ages Lake (1.6 miles)
Rock of Ages Lake to the Path Lake (0.5 miles)
Path Lake to the Mirror Lake (1.6 miles)
Mirror Lake to the Superstition Lake (1.4 miles)
Superstition Lake to the Quadga Lake Campsite Spur (2.0 miles)
Quadga Lake Campsite Spur to Campfire Lake (0.2 miles)
Campfire Lake to the Diana Creek Bridge (2.3 miles)
Diana Creek Bridge to Marathon Lake (1.3 miles)
Marathon Lake to Flapper Creek Crossing (1.1 miles)
Flapper Creek Crossing to Fallen Arch Lake (0.6 miles)
Fallen Arch Lake to "The Wye" (0.9 miles)


"THE LOOP" - Counterclockwise Direction

Under Construction...


"The Wye" to BWCA Campsite 1927 on the Isabella River (1.7 miles)
BWCA Campsite 1927 on the Isabella River to the Trailhead (1.0 miles)


This is a 1.7 mile hike following the remnants of an old logging road most of the way. Start out at "The Wye" where "The Stick" intersects "The Loop" portion of the Powwow Trail. Near the end of this section, you cross the Isabella River. Just after passing over the wooden bridge, you come to BWCA Campsite 1927 on your right.


From the campsite hike the final mile to reach the Powwow Trailhead near Lake Isabella.

Return to the List of BWCA Hiking Trails

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