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Old 06-01-2010, 09:20 AM   #1
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Boundary Waters Paradise- Sawbill Campground

We had the most wonderful Memorial Day weekend at Sawbill Campground in Tofte, MN. The sites do not have hook ups- but are spectacular! Each one is so very private and clean. The bathrooms were immaculate. The Sawbill Outfitters store had everything you could ever want- the gear for outfitting was top of the line and in excellent condition. The management and staff were so fantastic and helpful- we couldn't imagine a better place to basecamp to head out to the Boundary Waters paradise!
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Old 06-01-2010, 09:26 AM   #2
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Great report on a campground many of us would never have found on our own. It's on my list of places to go, now.

Thanks - Pat
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:10 AM   #3
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Looks like you may be in site #5?

We had a great time at Sawbill a few years ago. We had a fire ban when we were there but it was mid August. We'd go back in a second if we ever had enough time.

How did you like the last 13 miles or so of road getting into the Sawbill campground? I'm still trying to figure out which tooth goes where after that ride, or maybe they resurfaced it since we were there.

Post pictures if you have them.

Jonathan
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:25 AM   #4
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Is Sawbill off the Gunflint Trail?
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:31 AM   #5
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Here was Jonathan's report on Sawbill - http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ong-35716.html. I'd helped him with info on the area but he still was surprised at the washboard dirt road going in there. That is a variable -- dependent on when they bladed it last.

Will you be going out for day paddles? (well recommended!) Take lunch and picnic on flat rocks at the north end of Sawbill. I've spent a lot of time camping up north on Cherokee and Long Island Lake -- but that's too much for a day trip. Alton Lake is big and can get windblown. Smoke & Burnt Lakes can get you over to Kelly Lake's pretty stream/lake combination -- depends on how you like portaging -- that could be a full day explore.

Skeeters? They are less hectic the further into August you get. Biting flies are worse in the hottest period of summer -- July 4th and after. You'll attract fewer flies if you wear clothing without brighteners -- so no pure white (socks too) -- you'll attract flies if the fabric would glow in a black light.

Fishing? We like to paddle/tour with a lazy rod across the gunwale -- butt of the rod tucked under one knee. A perch (dark green) floating Rapala on the thinnest 6" black steel leader you can find works well. They'll dive while you're paddling and tend not to snare too many rocks. Smallmouth don't get skunky in those cold, tannin waters. Walleye are also a possibility. You can go without the steel leader if you're willing to lose the occasional lure to a toothy northern pike.
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:37 AM   #6
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The Sawbill Trail leaves northshore at Tofte. You can also get to Sawbill from Grand Marais if you have a good map -- like a DeLorme.

As long as you have a good atlas to get there -- driving east of Sawbill -- the hike up Eagle Mountain (tallest point in MN) is strenuous but beautiful & fun! Give it something more than half a day to do. Take water.
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:44 PM   #7
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The road to Sawbill is only paved for the first 5 miles of the 24 to the campground- yes it is quite a rough ride.

We day tripped out to the "fire lakes" Burnt, Flame and Smoke. Fantastic fishing!!! We ate Walleye dinner every night and had a ball catching small mouth and northerns.

We had a miraculous 5 days of sunshine, 75 degrees and NO BUGS!!!!! But this is pretty unusual for BWCA- expect some rain, storms and have your bug nets ready at the portages.

We have loved the backcountry tripping for awhile- but the campground was a real treat for daytripping.

Excellent guess on the site- #5 has a great view of the lake and is off the road nicely. We also scoped out site #17- not reservable- but very nice as well.
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:34 PM   #8
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Another nice mountain in the area is Honeymoon mountain. Not as high as Eagle (about 400 ft shorter), but the view is spectacular.

Its a little hard to find, at N 47.724063 and W -90.829858
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Old 06-01-2010, 07:33 PM   #9
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There are lots of small national forest campgrounds in and around all those back roads to the various entry points to the Boundary Waters. Three girlfriends and I are going in for 5 days in August at Hog Creek entry point to Perent Lake. Only a couple hours paddling the creek to get to the lake, and it has great fishing and lots of island campsites. It would make a good day trip also and there's several national forest campgrounds near it. Those gravel roads vary in how smooth/rocky they are but if you take it slow and are careful, it's not a problem. The biggest problem is the idiots who drive really fast in the middle of the road coming over hills at you! I landed in the ditch once due to that problem.
Boundary Waters are beautiful and fun! And yes, you need to be ready for any weather it throws at you! We go well equiped, and have only bailed early on a trip once, and that was after 3 days of rain and a very cold night coming up last August. We were on the Canadian border.....

Kay
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Old 06-02-2010, 07:43 PM   #10
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We went up the Sawbill Trail last month and saw our moose.



The campground is very nice. There are three National Forest campgrounds where you can camp and launch into the BWCAW and just day trip if you desire. One is Fall Lake just east of Ely. Fall Lake has some electrical sites available. This Sawbill Trail campground and Trails End campground at the end of the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marais. The Gunflint Trail is paved all the way and Trails End is one of my favorite places.

I suppose you could wind your way from the Gunflint to the Sawbill but you would have to do so on unpaved forest roads that might be proved to be less maintained than the Sawbill. Besides going back to US 61 would be faster anyway.

I put together this photo gallery of the Minnesota North Shore scenery and culinary opportunities to entice Class B camper vans to a rally in Grand Marais this September. If it doesn't wet your appetite to visit then I apologize.

MobileMe Gallery
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:13 PM   #11
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Davydd, we're set to spend two weeks at GrandMarais City Campground on the harbor the middle of July, meeting friends, one daughter and her partner, and who knows how many others of the family deciding they can't stay away at the last minute. However, now I've "consumed" your feast of northwoods gourmet dining sites and scenery, maybe I don't need the trip afterall. You've nearly done it all with your photos! What a visual treat. Thanks, ~G
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:11 AM   #12
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And BTW- CanoeStream was MOST helpful with our trip planning to the area. We really appreciated that. So he just may be the grand professor for this part of the world.

Cheers.

Jonathan
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:21 AM   #13
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How are the mosquitoes up there, particularly in August? I have a friend, who shall remain unmentioned , who is preparing heavily for an onslaught of carnivorous droves of the critters.

Maggie
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:50 AM   #14
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We are only visitors once or twice a summer season, but our experience is that we are seldom bothered by the critters along the Lake Superior shore, UNLESS we hit an unusual warm spell with land breezes--then they may descend. Up from the lake, inland, Katy-bar-the-door! They'll be there, ready to dine, but we've also found that if we wear a good repellent that they hover in a buzzy cloud a few feet above our heads, but don't bother us. Breezy open areas will be better than brushy close regions, for example, along a trail. Come prepared. If really worried, bring long sleeved shirts and pants, light weight fabric, and perhaps a hat with a veil to protect face and neck. Mosquitos are a factor, but manageable. I'd NEVER pass up a trip to the NorthWoods for fear of mosquitos. I hope your unmentioned friend will enjoy the trip! Where will you be camping or touring? ~G
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