Little Indian Sioux River
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Nearest Entry Point:
Little Indian Sioux River South #9;
Little Indian Sioux River North #14
Fishing: Unknown
Maps: Fisher F-9; McKenzie #12 River Depth: Unknown
Fire History: 1971, 1863-64, 1755-59
River Length: From its source at Otter Lake to its mouth at Loon Lake, the river is about 31 miles long. The river flows through Upper Pauness Lake and Lower Pauness Lake.
Campsites: 1 Wildlife Seen on Visit: None
Last Visited: September 27, 2020 Creek Elevation: Headwaters at Otter Lake at 1453 feet. Mouth at Loon Lake at 1160 feet. Average of 9.5 feet per mile of elevation loss.
Water Clarity: N/A

To BWCA Entry Point 9: Walk the 8 rod portage
To BWCA Entry Point 14: Walk the 40 rod portage
To Bootleg Lake: Walk the 205 rod portage
To Little Pony River: Paddle In
To Little Trout Lake: Walk the 290 rod portage
To Loon Lake: Paddle In
To Lower Pauness Lake: Paddle In or walk the 40 rod portage or the 55 rod portage
To Otter Lake: Walk the 95 rod portage
To Upper Pauness Lake: Paddle in or walk the 40 rod portage or the 13 rod portage
To Sioux-Hustler Trail: Accessible along the river

Little Indian Sioux River

LaCroix Ranger District

The Little Indian Sioux River is often abbreviated as L.I.S.R. or just L.I.S. This river cuts its way through the Vermillion Batholith, an area of often exposed granite that dates back to the Precambrian era, about 1.5 billion years ago.

Except for the section downstream of BWCA Entry Point 14, the entire river is lightly traveled. It is possible to paddle the entire length of the river by creating a giant loop route, with half of the route on either side of the Echo Trail. This route uses the two Little Indian Sioux River entry points and the Big Lake and Stuart River entry points. A difficult but rewarding trip with a minimum travel distance of at least 90 miles.

There is a single campsite along the river itself, at the Devil's Cascade downstream of Lower Pauness Lake. Other campsites are on the lakes the river flows near to, or through.

Some patches of wild rice can see be found along stretches of the river.

Besides a lot of portages around impassable sections of the river, also expect to lift your canoe/gear over a number of beaver dams.

A modest fire burned 14,600 acres in three days in 1971 just east of the L.I.S., a couple miles south of the Echo Trail. Fire consumed the leftover slash in an area that was recently logged. This was known as the Little Sioux Fire and it was probably the largest fire in the BWCA between 1910 and 1950.

The 1863-64 fire was the fourth largest (over 112,000 acres) in recorded history in the the area that is now the BWCA.

Logging operations were extensive on the lakes in this area, especially in the early 1900's. However the L.I.S. was never used for floating logs so the river was left mostly unscarred by these operations. Two notable logging sales were the one south of Shell Lake. This tract extended south along the eastern bank of the L.I.S. The other logged area along the river was burned by the 1971 fire mentioned above (Heinselman).

Traveling the Little Indian Sioux River (Upstream)

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Little Indian Sioux River 1
Looking upstream from the BWCA Entry Point 9 landing, which is located right on the side of the Echo Trail.

Little Indian Sioux River 2
A view from along the 160 rod portage that runs between the two entry points. These two entry points provide access to north and south routes along the Little Indian Sioux River.

This portage connects the two canoe landing locations on the L.I.S. for BWCA Entry Point 14 and BWCA Entry Point 9.

Traveling the Little Indian Sioux River (Downstream)

Little Indian Sioux River 3
Looking downstream from the portage landing for BWCA Entry Point 14. Note that there is a portage between BWCA Entry Point 9 - Little Indian Sioux River South and BWCA Entry Point 14 - Little Indian Sioux River North.

Portaging 160 rods from the BWCA Entry Point 9 canoe landing, downstream to the canoe landing for BWCA Entry Point 14.

Route Connections for the Little Indian Sioux River

From the Little Indian Sioux River, you can portage into Bootleg Lake, Little Trout Lake, Lower Pauness Lake, Otter Lake and Upper Pauness Lake. You can also paddle into the Little Pony River, Loon Lake and both Lower Pauness Lake and Upper Pauness Lake. In addition, two entry points are accessible from the Little Indian Sioux River: BWCA Entry Point 9 - Little Indian Sioux River South and BWCA Entry Point 14 - Little Indian Sioux River North. The Sioux-Hustler Trail is also accessible from the river.

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