Disappointment Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Snowbank Lake #27, 28 Fishing: MN DNR Fish Survey; Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye
Maps: Fisher F-10, F-11, F-31 Special; McKenzie #9 Lake Depth: MN DNR Lake Map; 54 feet
Fire History:
Lake Size: 919 acres
Campsites: 10 Wildlife Seen on Visit: Loons
Last Visited: July 25, 2015 Lake Elevation: 1482 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR Routes from Disappointment Lake:
To Ahsub Lake: Walk the 35 rod portage
To Snowbank Lake: Walk the 141 rod portage
To Parent Lake: Walk the 85 rod portage

Disappointment Lake

Kawishiwi Ranger District

Disappointment Lake is named for the "mountain" that lies to its northeast and dominates the view in that direction while paddling through the area. It could be that the mountain was named after the lake too. In either case, the "mountain" rises about 350 feet above the surface level of the lake.

A spur of the Old Pines Trail can be hiked over Disappointment Mountain. This trail provides an occasional view (when the trees part enough) and also allows hikers to see a part of the BWCA that has not been logs; this means you will see some huge pine trees. The problem is that the Old Pines Trail is one of the least hiked trails in the BWCA. Therefore, it is hard to follow and even hard to find. Supposedly the trail intersects the Disappointment Lake to Ahsub Lake portage, but I was unable to find it. The Snowbank Lake Trail also hugs the southwest shore of Disappointment Lake. A section of the Kekekabic Trail runs along the south shore of the lake.

The fishing in Disappointment Lake can be good. There are northern pike (some big ones too) and decent walleye fishing. There are lots of smallmouth bass, but they tend to run small. The lake, with just under a 1,000 acres of littoral area has a very long shoreline with plenty of structure.

You often hear the question is it easier to get to Disappointment Lake via Parent Lake or just use the long portage directly from Snowbank Lake. The longer portage is easier, but I prefer the Parent Lake double portage as it is a more scenic route. The Parent Lake route is also better if Snowbank Lake is kicking up big waves as the paddle from the entry point to the Parent Lake portage is fairly short and somewhat protected.

Disappointment Lake's campsites tend to fill up quick. Ahsub Lake just a short portage north of Disappointment Lake has two very good campsites.

Exploring Disappointment Lake

Disappointment Lake in the BWCA
Disappointment Lake from the Snowbank Lake/Parent Lake portage landing. These two portages both end at the same spot on Disappointment Lake.

Heading out from the Parent Lake portage landing (same as the Snowbank Lake portage landing by the way), you head northeast up the lake. This first stretch gets you to near the island campsite in the south end of Disappointment Lake.

From near the island campsite in the south end of Disappointment Lake, this leg of the paddle ends about the middle of the lake on the large west point that just out into the lake.

Disappointment Mountain in the BWCA
Disappointment Mountain from around the middle of Disappointment Lake. This summit of this "mountain" is about 350 feet above the surface of Disappointment Lake.

From the middle of Disappointment Lake, continue north up the lake. You can now begin to see Disappointment Mountain in the distance. This section of the trip ends as you approach the point that juts out from the east side of the lake. This is about three-quarters the way up the lake from where you started at the Parent/Snowbank Lake portage landing at the southwest end of the lake.

Disappointment Lake in the Boundary Waters
A look north from near the middle of Disappointment Lake. Disappointment Mountain is just visible above the point stretching out from the right (east) side of the lake in the distance.

Disappointment Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
A very recognizable rock formation that you pass by in the north end of Disappointment Lake.

Finishing up the north leg of Disappointment Lake, you reach the portage landing to Ahsub Lake. You have to wait offshore while a large youth group clears the portage.

Disappointment Lake - BWCA
From the portage landing to Ahsub Lake, this is your view to the left (east) looking down Disappointment Lake's shoreline.

Route Connections for Disappointment Lake

From Disappointment Lake, you can portage to Ahsub Lake, Parent Lake or Snowbank Lake. You can also bushwhack into Birdseye Lake and Vivid Lake.

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