Moose River
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Nearest Entry Point:
Moose River South #8;
Moose/Portage River North #16
Fishing: Unknown
Maps: Fisher F-9; McKenzie #12 River Depth: Unknown
Fire History: 1863-64, 1755-59
River Length: From its source at Big Moose Lake to its mouth at Nina Moose Lake, the river is about 12.4 miles long.
Campsites: 0 Wildlife Seen on Visit: None
Last Visited: September 27, 2020 Creek Elevation: Headwaters at Big Moose Lake at 1393 feet. Mouth at Nina Moose Lake at 1255 feet. Average of 11 feet per mile of elevation loss.
Water Clarity: N/A

To BWCA Entry Point 8: Walk the 4 rod portage
To BWCA Entry Point 16: Walk the 152 rod portage
To Big Moose Lake: Walk the 64 rod portage
To Nina Moose Lake: Paddle In

Moose River

LaCroix Ranger District

The majority of permits for the Moose River are for those traveling north toward Nina Moose Lake from BWCA Entry Point 16 - Moose/Portage River North. (Note: Almost nobody uses the Portage River to get to Nina Moose Lake. That route is not maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and is very difficult.) The paddle to Nina Moose Lake along the Moose River is about 2.5 miles. Besides the 152 rod portage from the entry point parking lot, there are two other short portages along this route. There are nearly always a couple beaver dams to liftover too. This route can be fairly busy. Most paddlers going this way stay on either Nina Moose Lake or Agnes Lake. If you are looking for more solitude, continue past these two lakes.

For those seeking quieter waters, paddle the Moose River south down to Big Moose Lake. The BWCA Entry Point 8 - Moose River South allows only one permit quota group per day. Most people heading this way camp on Big Moose Lake. There are some routes out of Big Moose Lake, but all involve massive and difficult portages.

The section of the Moose River between the Echo Trail and Forest Road 464 is mostly passable, but not maintained. There are a couple rapids and likely several beaver dams and down trees stretching across the river along this stretch that will require portaging/lifting over. Expect travel through this section of the river to be slow and difficult in places.

The 1863-64 fire burned about 112,600 acres and was the fourth largest fire in recorded history in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (Heinselman, 1999).

Logging took place west of the Moose River and north of the Echo Trail between 1956 and 1965. This was known as the Blandin Sale and was a purchase of the Blandin Paper Company. The Blandin Trail is named for this operation. That trail used one of the logging roads from this operation as its route (Heinselman, 1999).

Beymer, Robert, Boundary Waters Canoe Area – Volume 1 – Western Region (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 2006), 68, 70, 71, 80, 95, 101, 103, 106, 108, 112, 117.
Heinselman, Miron, The Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 41, 56, 119.
Pauly, Daniel, Exploring the Boundary Waters (Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 65, 88, 112, 116, 117.
Rom, William N., M.D., Canoe Country Wilderness (Stillwater: Voyageur Press, 1987), 87.

Traveling the Moose River (Upstream)

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Once reaching the BWCA Entry Point 16 parking lot, most groups don't portage up the road and put back in south of the Echo Trail. The section of the Moose River between the Echo Trail upstream (and south) to Forest Road 464 is typically not traveled. That being said, this section is mostly canoeable water, but you will have to bushwhack around a couple of rapids. There is also likely a number of beaver dams along this stretch. Downed trees lying across the entire river will also probably be encountered.

Continuing in the upstream direction from BWCA Entry Point 8...

Moose River 1
Looking upstream from the BWCA Entry Point 8 landing, which is located right on the south side of Forest Road 464. This stretch of the river eventually ends at Big Moose Lake, the source of the Moose River. You must haul over two portages along this section of the river, before reaching Big Moose Lake.

Traveling the Moose River (Downstream)

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The Moose River begins at Big Moose Lake. From that lake you paddle until you reach BWCA Entry Point 8, which is where the river passes underneath Forest Road 464 through a culvert. Almost no paddlers traverse the section of river between Forest Road 464 and the Echo Trail. That section of river is not maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. It is probably passable by determined groups, just expect to bushwhack to get around the two or three stretches of rapids. There is probably beaver dams and downed timber in the river to navigate through too.

Moose River 2
Start of the portage from the Moose River to the BWCA Entry Point 16 parking lot.

A moderately long, but otherwise easy portage from the river to the parking lot.

Route Connections for the Moose River

From the Moose River, you can portage into Big Moose Lake reached by paddling south from BWCA Entry Point 8. You can also paddle into Nina Moose Lake, which is accessible by paddling north from BWCA Entry Point 16. BWCA Entry Point 8 and BWCA Entry Point 16 provide access to the Moose River.

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