Sundial Lake Primitive Management Area
Sundial Lake PMA Map BWCA
Nearest Entry Point: Stuart River or Mudro Lake Number of Lakes in this PMA: 11;
Number of Creeks/Rivers in this PMA: 5
Maps: Fisher F-16, F-17; McKenzie #11, #12 Number of Lakes Visited in this PMA: 4;
Number of Creeks/Rivers Visited in this PMA: 0
Last Visited: September 6, 2014 Number of Zones in PMA: 5

Sundial Lake Primitive Management Area

The only one of the primitive management areas (PMA’s) that doesn’t seem to have an unpleasant name associated with it (i.e., Humpback, Tick, Canthook, Weeny, etc.). Maybe because the bushwhack out to Sundial Lake would be unpleasant enough; probably one of the more difficult PMA lakes to reach and it is all by itself.

There are not a lot of lakes in this PMA, but there are a few good ones. There are many creeks though. On the eastern side of the Sundial PMA is Sinneeg Lake and Ritual Lake. Sinneeg Lake is large and has good water depth. Access to Sinneeg could be attempted by paddling down a long creek (Sinneeg Creek) from Sunday Bay in Crooked Lake. Another approach looks to be from Thunder Lake as there are a few open marshes, ponds and sections of creek that could be strung together to make the bushwhack manageable. The other good-sized lake in this part of the PMA is Ritual Lake. Ritual is accessed from Wagosh Lake. McKenzie maps show a dashed line indicating that there is (or was) some semblance of a portage trail. It is a long bushwhack of about 140 rods or so from Wagosh Lake out to Ritual Lake. Ritual Lake appears to be surrounded by bogs, but the lake does not appear to be marshy in satellite images. Bunggee Lake is also towards the eastern side of this PMA and is also probably best approached from Thunder Lakes’ north end via a 100+ rod bushwhack; that bushwhack doesn’t appear to be easy.

Going up the middle of the Sundial PMA is the Beartrap River. This river has good navigational qualities and can be followed to Sunday Lake which likes smack in the center of this PMA. Sunday Lake is large and is a relatively popular destination as PMA lakes go.

The west side of the Sundial PMA is bordered by the Stuart River. From Stuart Lake, the river can be followed upstream where it provides access to several more Sundial PMA lakes. About a half mile from Stuart Lake one could bushwhack into Nibin Lake and Bibon Lake. The bushwhack into Nibin Lake and Bibon Lake follows a formerly maintained portage trail that is still relatively passable (as of 2014). The trail has several cairns erected to guide your way. Another mile down river, a short but spongy bushwhack through a peat bog gets you into Contest Lake. The creek into Contest Lake is not canoeable. Contest is actually a very pretty but shallow lake. Finally, in the southwest corner of the Sundial PMA is White Feather Lake. White Feather Lake is also accessed directly from the Stuart River, but unless you are really motivated, do this only during high water levels. During low water, it is a difficult slog over even the short distance into White Feather Lake. The 1996 White Feather Fire burned this area along the Stuart River. Roughly 4,700 acres of forest were burned. You can easily see the scarring on the ridgeline behind White Feather Lake when looking in that direction from the Stuart River. Finally, Sterling Lake, said by the few who have seen it, to be one the prettiest lakes in the BWCA. Sterling Lake lies just to the east/southeast of Bibon Lake. Access to Sterling Lake, which is composed of many small bays, narrows, and islands, is via Sterling Creek from the east and through Bibon Lake and Nibin Lake to the west coming from Stuart Lake. Sterling Creek flows into the Beartrap River about a half mile or so west of Sunday Lake. Sterling Lake is over a mile upstream from the Beartrap River. From satellite images, Sterling Creek appears mostly navigable with likely some beaver dams and a small rapids or two to keep your bushwhacking skills in prime shape. Sterling Creek has its headwaters south of Sterling Lake, through which it passes.

A fire in 1996 burned about 4,750 acres of the Sundial Lake PMA (Beymer, 2006). The Beymer book referenced below has good information on a route through this PMA.

Beymer, Robert, Boundary Waters Canoe Area – Volume 1 – Western Region (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 2006), 121, 124, 145.

PMA #1: Weeny PMA #4: Tick PMA #7: Pitfall PMA #10: Hairy
PMA #2: Canthook PMA #5: Spider PMA #8: Mugwump PMA #11: Weasel
PMA #3: Sundial PMA #6: Drag PMA #9: Humpback PMA #12: Fungus
Beartrap River Contest Lake Sinneeg Creek Sterling Lake
Bibon Lake Nibin Lake Sinneeg Lake Sunday Lake
Bunggee Creek Parley Lake Spring Creek Sundial Lake
Bunggee Lake Ritual Lake Sterling Creek White Feather Lake
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