BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE ROUTE- SEAGULL LAKE BASE CAMP
BWCAW Entry Point 54A Seagull Lake Only(2 entry permits) or 54 Seagull Lake (11 entry permits)
Minimum Trip Length 3 Days
A Seagull Lake base camp provides an excellent opportunity for a BWCA wilderness canoe trip without portaging. For people who are unable or unwilling to portage Seagull provides a wonderful setting for a wilderness canoe camping trip. Families with small children or those folks who want to try a kayak trip will want to make Seagull their camping destination. Beginning paddlers are comforted by the close proximity to civilization and experienced ones are amazed at how peaceful and quiet Seagull is in spite of it. Everyone who paddles Seagull loves it for the beautiful rock studded islands, sheer granite cliffs and great fishing. Choose this Boundary Waters route if you are short on time, don’t feel like paddling or portaging long distances or if you want to take advantage of all Seagull Lake has to offer.
BWCA Maps Needed:
- Fisher Maps: F-19 or F-32
- McKenzie Maps: 6
- Voyageur Maps: 6
|DNR #||Fish Species||Maximum Depth||Acres||Elevation||Campsites|
|16-0629-00||W, LT, SB, NP||145||4.996||1451||36|
- North 235 rod to Grandpa Lake
- North 38 rod to Gull Lake or through Trail’s End Campground
- NW 20 rod to Alpine
- NW 105 rod to Alpine
- West 20 rod to Rog Lake
- South 535 rod to Paulson; formerly J.A.P.
Seagull is most known for its beautiful islands and rock palisades. There are over 100 islands over an acre in size many with campsites on them. A person can paddle day after day exploring the many bays and fingers of Seagull Lake without ever paddling the same route twice.
Don’t be surprised if you’re paddling and you see a bridge connecting two pieces of land together. This bridge belongs to Wilderness Canoe Base on Fishhook Island just outside of the BWCA. It’s a privately run wilderness camp that has an outdoor chapel for Sunday Worship and the occasional wedding. Some evenings you’ll find a white sheet hanging from the bridge with a movie being projected on it. You’ve heard of drive-in movie theaters before but this is one of the only paddle-in movie theaters around.
You may notice people climbing or rapelling on a sheer cliff next to Miles Island. These are most likely campers scaling the 80 foot high cliff known as the palisades. There is a hiking trail to the top where thousands of pictures have been taken. Risk takers are sometimes seen jumping into the water from various levels of the cliffs and this is not recommended.
There are a lot of little lakes a person can access from Seagull Lake. If a person wants to do some hiking then the portages leading out of Seagull Lake are the perfect place to stretch your legs. A hike to Grandpa Lake and back is almost 1.5 miles and to Alpine and back it’s just under a mile. With the Paulson portage distancing 515 rods one way it is over 3 miles round trip. Paulson Lake was once known as Jap Lake but the harsh sounding word caused a stir even though the lake name just stood for the initials of local Gunflint Trail folks. J.A.P. stood for James and Ann Paulson.
If you want to explore some different lakes and don’t mind carrying your canoe and fishing gear then Seagull is a great lake to use as a base camp. You’ll find plenty of trout in the area with brook trout in Rog Lake, rainbow trout in Meditation Lake and lake trout in Paulson Lake. Grandpa Lake has northern pike and Alpine Lake has walleye, lake trout, northern pike and smallmouth bass. There’s really no need to leave Seagull Lake in search of fish since there are plenty to be caught right there without having to portage.
On the north shoreline of Seagull Lake you will notice trees all uniform in size. These trees are relatively young as they just started growing after the Roy Lake Fire in 1976. Younger looking trees are most likely the result of the Cavity, Alpine or Ham Lake Fire or quite possibly from a prescribed burn.
On the west side of Three Mile Island you can find cedar trees that are over 300 years old. If you see cabins and boats with motors then you are East of Three Mile Island. Boats can use up to a 10 horsepower motor in these waters as cabins and resorts existed before the area was made into the Boundary Waters. In spite of the proximity to the civilization on the shores of Seagull Lake it is a very peaceful place for a wilderness canoe trip.
According to the book, “A Taste of the Gunflint Trail,” “When Russell Blankenburg first came to Seagull Lake, the road ended there. The lake had no homes or inhabitants. The only way to get to Saganaga Lake was to go down the river from Seagull. And all of this was happening in the late 1920’s. It wasn’t that long ago!”
Since then there have been a number of resorts and cabins on Seagull Lake. Some of them were located in what now is the BWCA and were moved to make room for wilderness travelers. Seagull Resort was the first resort on Seagull Lake and was located on what is now Blankenburg Landing. It was owned by Russell and Eve Blankenburg and the site was chosen for the beautiful beach; a rare treat on the Gunflint Trail. The beach is still there for people to enjoy as well as a plaque denoting the history and contributions of the Blankenburgs.
A Short Story:
Seagull Lake was home to a great restaurant called Sea Island. It was owned and operated by the Lande family until the year 1999 when they served their last meal. Mike and I enjoyed many meals at the beautiful log lodge and were always impressed the previous owners had only paid $500 for the building. It was 1956 and the lodge had to be auctioned off and moved from the west end of the lake because of the Wilderness Act. It was purchased by the Cushman’s who were then responsible for moving it to its present location on the northeast shore of Seagull Lake. I’ll never forget the wonderful meals that always began with warm rolls and an onion pie. You can find the recipes for these in “A Taste of the Gunflint Trail”, a cook book with a little bit of history intertwined.