BRANT, GABI SEAGULL
BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE ROUTE – BRANT, GABI SEAGULL
BWCAW Entry Point 52 Brandt(4 entry points), 54 Seagull(11 entry points)
Minimum Trip Length 4 Days
This is a great route for folks who like to travel and who don’t mind numerous portages. There are many small lakes connected by frequent portages and lakes teeming with lake trout. On a four day trip there could be two or three different campsites depending upon ambition levels and interests. A first night campsite for three different sites could be Green, Bat or Gillis Lake followed by the second night on Gabimichigami or Agamok and the last night on Ogishkemuncie or Alpine Lake. If you’re only going to have two different campsites then you may want to get a little bit farther into the wilderness, at least to Gillis Lake. Whatever you do you’ll want to leave time to explore the waterfalls between Agamok and Mueller Lakes as it’s a highlight of this trip. A significant portion of this trip has been affected by wildfire either in 2006 or 2007. The amount of growth in the forest each year is astounding and makes this trip unique and interesting.
BWCA Maps Needed:
- Fisher Maps: F-32
- McKenzie Maps: 6, 7, 8
- Voyageur Maps: 6
|Lake||DNR #||Fish Species||Maximum Depth||Acres||Elevation||Campsites|
|Round||16060600||Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike||45||154.48||1744||0|
|West Round||16060500||Northern Pike, Perch, Sucker||20||10||1756||0|
|Gillis||16075300||Lake Trout, Northern Pike||180||570||1651||7|
|French||16075500||Lake Trout, Northern Pike||130||112||1659||2|
|Gabimichigami||1608110||Lake Trout, Northern Pike||209||1198||1480||8|
|Agamok||16075900||Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike||65||839||1455||5|
|Ogishkemuncie||38018000||Walleye, lake trout, northern pike||75||701||1482||11|
|Kingfisher||16081200||Walleye, lake trout, smallmouth bass||42||35||1484||0|
|Jasper||16076800||Walleye, lake trout, smallmouth bass||125||239||1495||6|
|Alpine||16075900||Walleye, lake trout, smallmouth bass, northern pike||65||839||1455||25|
|Seagull||16062900||Walleye, lake trout, smallmouth bass, northern pike||145||4996||1451||36|
|Gull||16063200||Walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike||40||183||1431||0|
|Portages out of Round||Portages out of West Round||Portages out of Edith||Portages out of Brandt|
|-West 85 rods to West Round|
-SW 142 rods to Missing Link
|-West 50 rods to Edith|
-SE 85 rods to Round
|West 35 rods to Brant|
-East 50 rods to West Round
|-NW 100 rods to Gotter|
-SE 35 rods to Edith
|Portages out of Gotter||Portages out of Flying||Portages out of Green||Portages out of Bat|
|West 50 rods to Flying|
-East 100 rods to Brant
|-North 15 rods, then 13 rods to Bingshick|
-NW 70 rods to Fay
-SW 70 rods to Green
-South 50 rods toGotter
|-West 20 rods to Bat|
-East 70 rods to Flying
|-South 25 rods to Gillis|
-East 20 rods to Green
|Portages out of French||Portages out of Gillis||Portages out of Gabimichigami||Portages out of Peter|
|–W 33 rod to Powell|
-W 130 rod to Peter
-N 27 rod to Seahorse
-S 13 rod to Fern
-SE 25 rod to Gillis
|S 90 rod to Crooked|
-NE 25 rod to Bat
-NW 25 rod to Fern
|-North 15 rods to Agamok|
-NE 110 rods to Howard
-East 39 rods to Peter
-SE 25 rods to Rattle
-SE 20 rods to Leg
|-NW 39 rods to Gabimichigami|
-SW 80 rods to Virgin
-East 130 rods to French
|Portages out of Agamok||Portages out of Mueller||Portages out of Ogish||Portages out of Kingfisher|
|-NW 100 rods to Mueller|
-SE 15 rods to Gabimichigami
|NE 80 rods to Ogish|
-SE 100 rods to Agamok
|NE 38 rods to Kingfisher|
-East 25 rods to Skindance
-East 80 rods to Mueller
-North 10 rods to Spice
-SW 15 rods to Annie
|-East 25 rods to Jasper|
-West 38 rods to Ogish
|Portages out of Jasper||Portages out of Alpine||Portages out of Seagull|
|-NE 45 rods to Alpine|
-West 25 rods to Kingfisher
|-North 48 rods to Red Rock|
-South 45 rod to Jasper
-NE 20 rod to Seagull
-NE 105 rod to Seagull
|-North 235s rods to Grandpa|
-North 38 rods to Gull
-NW 20 rods to Alpine
-NW 105 rods to Alpine
-West 20 rods to Rog
-South 535 rods to Paulson
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to sit still too long then the route from Brant Lake to Seagull Lake may be perfect for you. The route consists of quite a few smaller lakes that require you to get into and out of your canoe numerous times especially on the first day of your trip.
Round Lake provides access to two entry points into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The portage into West Brant Lake is located in the northwest part of Round Lake. Leaving from the public landing you’ll paddle on the same side of the lake as the landing to the portage into West Round Lake.
The first portage is approximately 85 rods in length and it is relatively flat and easy. It leads you to a tiny pothole known as West Round Lake. As you look straight across from the put-in you’ll see the next portage to Edith Lake. Don’t get too comfortable in your canoe because you’ll only need a couple of strokes of the paddle to get to the other shoreline. The 50-rod portage into Edith Lake is not challenging and has some planks to traverse across wet areas.
Back in your canoe for another couple strokes of the paddle and you’ll be ready to portage the short and easy 36-rods to Brant Lake. This is the official start of the BWCA and you’ll see a sign welcoming you to the wilderness.
Brant Lake is a uniquely shaped lake with arms spanning in different directions. There are campsites on the lake and northern pike in the lake for those who wish to wet a line. The canoe landing at the portage is nice but don’t let that fool you. The 88-rod portage begins with a steep climb and there’s a couple more climbs before you reach Gotter Lake. There are some nice views along the portage including a wetland before you descend the trail to the shallow water landing in Gotter Lake.
Gotter Lake is a small lake with quite a bit of character. There’s a pretty rock cliff you’ll paddle along and lots of aquatic vegetation. You’ll need to paddle through a shallow swampy area with lily pads, reed grass and floating bogs. It’s a neat lake without any campsites on it. People have developed a few different landings for portaging into Flying Lake. If you take out at the first portage you’ll carry about 55-rods but depending upon water conditions paddlers often pole their way through the muck a little farther shaving a few rods off of the portage. At the end of the portage there is a set of wooden steps that take you down to the sandy landing for Flying Lake.
Flying Lake is about double the size of Gotter Lake but you’ll only paddle a small portion of the lake. There aren’t any campsites on the lake but it is a neat area to explore with access to the Chub River and Bingshick Lake. There’s a spot where the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006 and the Ham Lake Fire of 2007 intersect. The portage to Green Lake is at the edge of a rock wall not far from the put in. It’s a fairly rugged and rocky 70-rod portage. The trail used to go straight up the cliff but now you can follow the shore and do a switchback before a climb up a hill. You’ll descend steeply right before you reach Green Lake.
Green Lake will be a treat to see because it has not been affected by recent wildfires. It’s a deep lake but with no campsites and no game fish according to the Minnesota DNR. It’s surprising there are only white sucker and creek chub in spite of the fact there’s a 70-foot hole. As you make your way west you’ll enter a shallow bay where you’ll find the easy 25-rod portage to Bat Lake.
Bat Lake is a nice-sized lake with clear water and three campsites to choose from. The campsite on the west end of the lake is elevated about 20 feet above the water and offers nice views, if you don’t mind hauling your stuff up a hill. It’s an interesting lake to paddle because one shoreline was affected by the Cavity Lake Fire in 2006 and the other side was not. There’s a scenic cliff and a good number of small lake trout to catch and possibly provide a meal of fish.
You’ll paddle most of Bat Lake as you make your way to the 25-rod portage to Gillis Lake. It’s a short portage with a couple of hills and a boulder field at the Gillis Lake landing.
Gillis Lake is a nice lake with islands and crystal clear water. There are seven campsites to choose from and good fishing for lake trout with the occasional northern pike. There are some beautiful cliffs people like to jump off of and a creek that flows from Gillis to Crooked Lake that is quite scenic. The Cavity Lake Fire of 2006 affected a significant portion of the lake but every year that passes brings dramatic changes that are remarkable to see.
The portage to French Lake is a short 25-rod and French Lake has two campsites and fishing for lake trout and northern pike. The portage from French to Peter is a long 130-rod portage. You’ll find a short incline and an expanse of boardwalk to traverse some wet area. You’ll be happy to be heading in this direction as you’ll have a steep descent to get to the shore of Peter Lake. There are four campsites in Peter and fishing for lake trout. People who like to have a lake to themselves may want to camp on French or Peter as both were affected by the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006. The growth since the fire is remarkable but many folks look for towering pines to shade their campsite.
A 39-rod portage takes you from Peter Lake to Gabimichigami. Gabi is a large lake measuring almost one mile across and three miles in length. There are eight campsites to choose from and fishing for brook trout, lake trout, northern pike, bluegill, white sucker and yellow perch. Cliffs and beautiful vistas can be found on Gabi and the western end of the lake escaped the fire. It is one of the deepest lakes in Minnesota with a hole measuring 209 feet deep.
The portage out of Gabi to Agamok is a quick 15-rod carry. Some folks have been known to pull their canoe through the creek that connects the two lakes depending upon the water level and amount of debris. I prefer the sure footing of a portage and like to avoid slippery rocks. Agamok is a serene area that feels more like a river than a lake. There are five campsites to choose from and fishing for smallmouth and northern pike.
The portage from Agamok to Mueller is a somewhat challenging, hilly and rocky100-rod portage. There is the option of taking three short portages around the rapids but is a lot of in and out. The good news is the Kekekabik hiking trail intersects the portage and allows you to take a side trip to a beautiful waterfall. Head east on the trail, pass through a campsite and you’ll find a wooden bridge over the falls. The water cascades beneath the bridge as it makes its way from Agamok down to Mueller and it’s definitely worth the side trip to see.
Mueller Lake is small and beautiful with four campsites and fishing for lake trout. The portage to Ogishkemuncie is a narrow, rocky and rugged 85-rod carry. Ogish is almost like two lakes with half of it affected by the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006 and the other half not. There is fishing for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and lake trout.
While camping on Ogish one can explore Skindance Lake by taking the 22-rod portage from Ogish or explore Spice Lake to the North by traversing the quick 10-rod portage from Ogish. Both of these lakes have campsites, privacy from paddlers on Ogish and have fishing for northern pike and smallmouth bass.
The many bays and islands provide great fishing and beautiful scenery just a day’s paddle from Seagull Lake.
At the east end of the lake you’ll find the 38-rod portage along a stream connecting Kingfisher which has no campsites. It’s a fast paddle to the opposite side of the lake where the 25-rod portage into Jasper can be found. Jasper has six campsites to choose from and since the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006 they are usually open. It was one of the hardest hit lakes during this forest fire and regeneration has been slower here than other places in the BWCA. It’s a private lake and tends to be super quiet too.
A 45-rod portage leads into Alpine Lake. Alpine is a favorite lake of many because there are a number of hidden bays and islands where 21 campsites await. A 105-rod portage leads into Seagull Lake where you can either exit or take one more portage into the Seagull River and back to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.
The 1999 blow down storm and the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006 touched most all of the lakes on this route. While it is recent in historical terms I think it is significant enough to include in the history of this route. On July 4, 1999 a strong wind storm later called a Blowdown or Derecho swept through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. As it was a holiday weekend many folks were out camping and enjoying the area. Winds estimated at 80 to 100 mph moved rapidly through the area, causing serious damage to 600 square miles of forest in the Arrowhead region. Tens of millions of trees were blown down and sixty people in the BWCA were injured by falling trees, some seriously. Twenty of those injured were rescued by float planes flying to lakes located in the forest near the victims. Crews spent a number of days clearing portages so people could get out of the wilderness. That storm left us without power at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters for fourteen days. The fear after the blowdown was a wildfire of significant size due to the dead and down fuel. A number of prescribed burns by the USFS were completed prior to the destructive Cavity Lake and Ham Lake Fire. For further reading about both the Cavity and Ham Lake Fire follow this link.
A Short Story:
The small lakes and numerous portages known to the Brant Lake entry point aren’t my favorite when I’m out on a big trip with lots of gear. I’d prefer one long portage rather than having to unload and load my canoe after quick trips across small lakes but it does have its allure. One time I was grateful for the frequency because it was cold and raining and my kids were small. They weren’t paddling so had we not had to get out of the canoe to portage so often they would have been very wet and bored.
One cold and very windy day we found ourselves on the shore of Gabimichigami. The waves were pounding the shoreline and we doubted we could get the canoe loaded and shoved off of the landing without capsizing the canoe. Mike assured my friend and I we would be able to make it the mile across the lake and I remember not being so sure. As we paddled the swells the tune of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald entered my mind. Before long the words were coming out of my mouth and my friend joined in the singing. All I could think of when I was in the middle of the lake were the words about how the big lake never gives up her dead and I could see my body resting on the bottom of one of the deepest lakes in Minnesota. Luckily we made it to the other side but I still think of that trip when I hear that Gordon Lightfoot song.
The Mueller Agamok area is one of my favorites in the Boundary Waters. It feels cozy and intimate and I love to visit the waterfall. I’ve been there numerous times but I most appreciated the waterfall while hiking the Kekekabik trail from the end of the Fernberg road to the Gunflint Trail. It’s a very special place that is a highlight of this route.