Fall Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Fall Lake #24 Fishing: MN DNR Fish Survey; Bluegill, Crappie, Northern Pike, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Yellow Perch
Maps: Fisher F-10; McKenzie #17, #116 Lake Depth: MN DNR; 32 feet
Fire History: 1923
Lake Size: 2,258 acres
Campsites: 8 (4 visited);
(also the Fall Lake Campground run by U.S. Forest Service)
Wildlife Seen on Visit: Mink, Loons, Bald Eagle
Last Visited: August 26, 2018
Previous Visits: September 4, 2016
Lake Elevation: 1319 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR

To Basswood Lake (Hoist Bay): Walk the entire Four Mile Portage (1,280 rods). Yup.
To BWCA Entry Point 24: Pull out
To Ella Hall Lake: Walk 1 1/2 miles on Four Mile Portage and then walk the 45 rod portage
To Mud Lake: Walk 1 1/4 miles on Four Mile Portage and then walk about 85 rod portage
To Muskeg Lake: Walk about 1 1/2 miles along the Four Mile Portage
To Newton Lake: Walk the 40 rod portage

Fall Lake

Kawishiwi Ranger District

Campsite 1: Campsite on south end, east side of Mile Island
Campsite 2: Campsite on north tip of Mile Island
Campsite 3: Second campsite on north tip of Mile Island
Campsite 4: Abandoned - Third campsite on north tip of Mile Island

Fall Lake is the location of BWCA Entry Point 24 and the Fall Lake Campground which is run by the U.S. Forest Service.

From Fall Lake you can basically go two directions, both of which lead to some part of Basswood Lake. Heading northwest from the entry point, you can portage 40 rods around Newton Falls into Newton Lake. Paddling the length of Newton Lake is about two miles. At the north end of Newton Lake there is a 90 rod portage around Pipestone Falls. This gets you into Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake. If you head to the northeast from the entry point, you are faced with the Four Mile Portage (1,280 rods). The other end of this portage is at Hoist Bay on Basswood Lake. Note that once north of Muskeg Lake, the Four Mile Portage becomes very difficult in places because it is often flooded, mostly as a result of beaver activity. It's not all bad. Along the way (at about the 1 1/2 mile mark) there is access to three lakes. Ella Hall Lake can be reached over a 45 rod portage from the Four Mile Portage. Mud Lake is reachable over an 85 rod portage from the southwest corner of Ella Hall Lake. Muskeg Lake is along the Four Mile Portage, but there isn't a maintained portage into the lake any longe,r as it was destroyed by a recent windstorm that swept through the area (2018). You can still bushwhack down to the lake with a little effort.

Fall Lake offers reasonable fishing mostly for northern pike and walleye.

Fall Lake is the location of the mouth of the Kawishiwi River. The Kawishiwi River flows into Fall Lake at the powerplant in the south part of the lake. You can reach the falls by following the Kawishiwi Falls Trail. There is a sign marking it along the Fernberg Trail. The lake is also fed by a small creek coming from Stub Lake just east of the entry point. Another major source of water into the lake is from the Sagawa River which flows into the southwest end of the lake. The waters of Fall Lake flow to the north over Newton Falls into Newton Lake on their way to Basswood Lake.

There used to be a portage between Fall Lake and Mud Lake. This portage began just east of the existing Four Mile Portage that leads to Basswood Lake. The old portage appears on the old 7.5 minute topographic maps. It does not appear on Fisher Maps as old as 1983. Use a spur off of the Four Mile Portage nowadays to access Mud Lake.

Logging in this area was extensive. The east shore of Fall Lake was logged by the St. Croix Lumber Company in the first decade1900's. This was the largest logging company that existed near what is now the BWCA. This logging company operated out of Winton, Minnesota. St. Croix was sold to a fellow named Edward Hines in 1911. The mill closed in 1923. Slash fires occurred in 1923, burning over much of the forest that the St. Croix Company had logged. Slash fires occur in recently logged areas because the lack of a forest canopy allows the forest floor to dry out. The leftover brush from logging becomes tinder dry and ignites easily (Heinselman, 1999). Another lumber company that operated on Fall Lake was the Swallow and Hopkins. Their mill was built in 1898. This mill operated until 1922 when it was taken over by the General Logging Company (part of a large firm called Weyerhaeuser). The milling for this company was done in Cloquet, Minnesota. They focused their logging efforts around the area surrounding Horse Lake, to which they had built a rail spur (Heinselman, 1999).

The Swallow and Hopkins Lumber Company wass responsible for building the Four Mile Portage, which was originally the location of a railway between Fall Lake and Basswood Lake. It was built in 1901 (Heinselman, 1999).

More information about Fall Lake and in particular the Four Mile Portage can be found in the book "A Wonderful Country - The Quetico-Superior Stories of Bill Maggie" by Dave Olesen (see pages 9-11).

Extensive information about logging operations around Fall Lake can be found in the book "A Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem" by Miron Heinselman.

Beymer, Robert, Boundary Waters Canoe Area – Volume 1 – Western Region (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 2006), 148, 150, 154.
Heinselman, Miron, The Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 100-105, 109.
Olesen, David, A Wonderful Country (Ely: Raven Productions, Inc., 2005), 9-11.
Rom, William N., M.D., Canoe Country Wilderness (Stillwater: Voyageur Press, 1987), 47, 116.

Exploring Fall Lake

Routes to locations on Fall Lake are shown below:
Paddling from BWCA Entry Point 24 to Mile Island and exploring the three campsites there
Paddling from the Four Mile Portage to BWCA Entry Point 24

Click on the photos below to see the full resolution image - Use your browsers back button to close photo and return to this page.


Fall Lake 1
Looking roughly northwest. The end of the dock at the entry point landing is visible.

Fall Lake 2
From BWCA Entry Point 24 you are looking to the northeast across Fall Lake. In the middle distance is Mile Island. The south end of Mile Island demarcs the boundary of the BWCA.

Turning from a compass direction of northwest to northeast, looking out at Fall Lake from BWCA Entry Point 24 boat landing.

Paddling from BWCA Entry Point 24 to the campsite on the south end of Mile Island.

Fall Lake 3
The campsite on the south end of the island nearest the Fall Lake entry point is a sand beach backing up to the forest that covers much of the island.

After pulling away from the sand beach at the south campsite, paddle north to another campsite on Mile Island. This is the middle of the three campsites.

Fall Lake 4
View of the campsite from the canoe landing. This is the middle of the two campsites on Mile Island.

Leave the middle campsite and paddle the short ways to the northern most campsite on Mile Island.

Fall Lake 5
The beach landing at the north most campsite on Mile Island.

From the campsite on the north end of Mile Island, paddle across an open part of Fall Lake to the north until you reach the start of Four Mile Portage. This long portage connects Fall Lake to Basswood Lake and several smaller lakes along the way.

Fall Lake 6
On final approach to the start of the Four Mile Portage at Fall Lake.
Travel the Four Mile Portage -or- Explore Another Route
***********************************************END OF ROUTE***********************************************


Fall Lake 7
View from the end of the Four Mile Portage of Fall Lake. The bay where this portage is located is in the eastern most bay at the north end of the lake. Looking toward the southwest. The distant shoreline near the middle of your view is almost 1.5 miles away.

Paddling through Fall Lake from the Four Mile Portage to an abandoned campsite (as of 2018) on the west side of Mile Island. This campsite was damaged by the July 2016 windstorm.

Fall Lake 8
Close up of the decaying dock/pier structure that is near the end of the Four Mile Portage.

Fall Lake 9
This is the small island that is due west of the point where the old log pier is located.

Fall Lake 10
View is to the west taking in the west end of the small island. Near sunset in mid-summer.

Fall Lake 11
Mile Island can be seen to the right of center. The campsite on the north tip of the island is also visible (the sand beach just right of center).

Paddling from the abandoned campsite on the west side of Mile Island, to the BWCA Entry Point 24 canoe landing.

Fall Lake 12
The canoe landing at BWCA Entry Point 24. There is also a boat ramp here which you can partially see to the right.
Explore BWCA Entry Point 24 -or- Explore Another Route
***********************************************END OF ROUTE***********************************************

Route Connections for Fall Lake

From Fall Lake, you can portage to Newton Lake. There is also the Four Mile Portage that connects Fall Lake to Hoist Bay on Basswood Lake. Along the Four Mile Portage there is access to Muskeg Lake, but you will have to do a little bushwhacking to get to the water. There is also a 45 rod portage spur from the Four Mile Portage to Ella Hall Lake. Another spur trail leads to Mud Lake. You can also leave the wilderness at BWCA Entry Point 24.

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