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Campsites

This section gives an overview of the available campsites along the Border Route Trail. Most of the campsites within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness were originally built by the Forest Service and intended for use by canoeists. In many cases, therefore, you will have to take spur trails to access the campsites, but on the upshot: The sites are almost always close to water, well maintained and very scenic. Bring your swim trunks/suit and enjoy a dip in the lake!

Loon Lake Topper Lake Sock Lake
South Lake Partridge Lake (southwest) Partridge Lake (northwest)
Rose Lake (west) Rose Lake (east) Clearwater Lake (west)
Clearwater Lake (east) Gogebic Lake Pine Lake
Pine Ridge McFarland Lake Campground Portage Brook
Otter Lake Swamp River

Loon Lake
Location: On Loon Lake, off Bryce-Breon trail
Tent spaces: 2
Description: Outside of BWCA, no permit for overnight stays.
Topper Lake
Location: On northern shore of Topper Lake, a short spur trail from the Border Route Trail, 0.08 mile east of the Topper Lake- South Lake portage junction or 0.80 mile west of the Topper Lake Cutoff junction. The spur trail is marked by a wooden post with a small tent symbol.
Tent spaces: 2-3
Description: This campsite is situated at the end of the spur trail 20 feet below the BRT on the southern flank of the ridge right on Topper Lake. The ground in the entire campsite is gently sloping towards the lake, but there are at least two good spots to put up a tent that are comparatively flat. Campsite is spacious, with enough room (and trees) to put up a tarp. Just across the lake, high cliffs mark the southern border of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Sock Lake
Location: The camp spur trail is 0.64 mile east of the Topper Lake Cutoff trail junction or 2.19 miles west of the South Lake Trail junction. The camp is on the north shore of Sock Lake 50 feet below the BRT at the end of the .033 mile spur trail.
Tent spaces: 2
Description: The campsite lies on top of a 4 foot high shelf that drops sharply into the lake. It is not accessible via canoe due to a lack of a portage. This is the only campsite on this small lake, giving it a very intimate feeling.
South Lake
Location: North 0.33 mile on the South Lake trail from the junction with the BRT. The elevation of the campsite is 337 feet below the junction.
Tent spaces: 5
Description: The campsite sits on the edge of a bay on the east end of South Lake. Note that you will drop 300 vertical feet from the ridge to the lake, which you will have to hike up again the next morning. The site, however, is worth the effort: Nestled in a fairly dense part of the woods, it provides ample opportunities to pitch tents. The view west from the shore of the ridges and cliffs on the Canadian site are spectacular, especially in foggy conditions.
Partridge Lake (southwest)
Location: 1.02 miles south of BRT on the South Lake trail on the southwest shore of Partridge lake
Tent spaces: 2
Description: This campsite is exposed and small with space for two 2-person tents. It provides little tree-cover, i.e. no refuge from the occasional high wind.
Partridge Lake (northwest)
Location: The camp spur trail is 3.4 miles east of the South Lake Trail junction or 2.55 miles west of Stairway Portage. The spur trail goes south 0.4 mile from the BRT to an elevation 100 feet below the BRT.
Tent spaces: 3
Description: On the way to the campsite, you will have to cross a beaver dam. The campsite is sheltered by trees all around and is right on the west shore of the bay on the north end of Partridge Lake.
Rose Lake (west)
Location: Above Rose Lake, directly off the trail, It is 1.83 miles east of Stairway Portage or 0.65 miles west of the Rose Lake (east) camp.
Tent spaces: 2
Description: The campsite sits above Rose Lake with an obstructed view of the lake and a short path down to the lake. It is sheltered by trees all around.
Rose Lake (east)
Location: On Rose Lake 0.65 mile east of the Rose Lake Camp (west) or 0.44 miles west of the Long Portage landing on Rose Lake.
Tent spaces: 3
Description: Open fire grate area with an excellent view of the east end of Rose Lake. Tent spaces are sheltered by trees.
Clearwater Lake (west)
Location: South 0.33 mile from the junction on the ridge with the portage between Clearwater and Rove. The junction with the BRT is 2.1 miles east of the junction with the Daniels Lake trail. The camp elevation is 170 feet below the BRT junction.
Tent spaces: 5
Description: South 0.33 mile from the junction on the ridge with the portage between Clearwater and Rove. The junction with the BRT is 2.1 miles east of the junction with the Daniels Lake trail. The camp elevation is 170 feet below the BRT junction.
Clearwater Lake (east)
Location: South on an unmarked spur trail 140 yards from the junction. The spur junction is 6.07 miles east of the Clearwater/Rove portage junction and 0.16 mile west of the west end of the Clearwater/West Pike portage. This spur trail is not well established.
Tent spaces: 3+
Description: Large campsite with tent spaces separated by trees from the fire grate area. The lake landing is flat rock with a view of the bay at the east end of Clearwater Lake.
Gogebic Lake
Location: On Gogebic Lake, directly on trail, 1.42 mile east of the west end of the Clearwater/West Pike portage or 1.05 miles east from BRT split going east from Clearwater/West Pike portage. The camp is 5.66 miles west of the Pine/Pike portage junction.
Tent spaces: 3
Description: This campsite is right on the lake and is well sheltered by trees. Tree roots limit the space available for tents.
Pine Lake
Location: South 0.45 mile on the Pine/Pike portage from its junction with the BRT. The camp elevation is 200 feet below the BRT.
Tent spaces: 3
Description: The campsite lies to the east of the portage trail, about 200 ft. from the Pine Lake portage landing. The camp is sheltered by trees which obstruct the view of Pine Lake. The landing provides an expansive panoramic of the lake.
Pine Ridge (backpacking only)
Location: 3.42 miles east of the Pine/Pike portage junction or 120 yards west of the ridge junction with the McFarland/East Pike portage. Look for an unmarked spur trail on the left that goes 50 yards to the camp.
Tent spaces: 2
Description: This is one of the few campsites that is not shared with canoeists, i.e. there is no canoe or water access (For water, go down the hill 120 yards on portage to the East Pike Lake landing).
McFarland Lake Campground
Location: 17 miles from Hovland (Hwy 61) on the Arrowhead Trail or directly across the road from the parking lot at the trailhead of continuation of the BRT heading east. The entrance to the campground is 50 yards down the road from this parking area.
Camp sites: 5, some with multiple tent spaces. First com/first served.
Description: The campsites consist of a cleared area, fire ring, and table. There is one handicap accessible outhouse toilet. During the campground season water and garbage cans are available and there is a fee of $12 per night. Early and late in the hiking season, water and garbage cans are not available. For further information refer to the State Forest website.
Portage Brook
Location: Southeast of bridge, just off trail.
Tent spaces: 1
Description: This campsite lies outside the BWCA and therefore no permit is required for overnight stays. It features an old table and fire ring, but there is the possibility of a large number of bugs.
Swamp River
Location: Across Otter Lake/Rengo Road from eastern trailhead, just past boat launch.
Tent spaces: 2-3
Description: Like the site at Otter Lake, this is a very public campsite. It lies outside the BWCA and does not require a permit.
Otter Lake
Location: On Rengo Road, 0.75 miles south of BRT on Otter Lake Cutoff
Tent spaces: 3
Description: This is a make-shift campsite right on Rengo Road with some slanting ground. It has no tree-cover but is surrounded by trees and brush on three sides (the fourth is open to the road). If you are planning to continue your hike on the Superior Hiking Trail down the North Shore of Lake Superior, or continue on the BRT after hiking the SHT, this would be an ideal spot to place a food caché (but remember to secure your food from rodents and bears). There is no fire ring at this campsite, but a latrine is located in the woods.