Isabella Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Isabella Lake #35 Fishing: MN DNR; Black Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Pumpkinseed, Rock Bass, Walleye
Maps: Fisher F-4; McKenzie #19 Lake Depth: MN DNR; 19 feet
Fire History: 1864, 2011
Lake Size: 1,257 acres
Campsites: 11 Wildlife Seen on Visit: None
Last Visited: July 10, 2016 Lake Elevation: 1551 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR

To Entry Point 35: Walk the 70 rod portage
To Isabella River: Walk the 42 rod portage
To Perent River: Walk the 27 rod portage

Isabella Lake

Tofte Ranger District

None visited yet.

Most of the forest surrounding the lake was burned in 2011 by the Pagami Creek Fire.

Isabella Lake lies just north of the former site of Forest Center, a town that existed solely as the hub of a logging camp for the Tomahawk Timber Company. The town supported a population of around 250 people. From Forest Center an extensive network of roads was extended to the west, north and east well into what is now the Boundary Waters. Many of these old logging roads are still easily visible today on satellite images of this area. The Pow Wow Trail is built on the tread of these old roads. This huge area of logging extended west to Bald Eagle Lake, north to Lake Insula and east of Lake Polly. As of 1948, the Duluth, Mesabi and Iron Range Railroad had laid track to within a couple hundred yards of Isabella Lake. Extensive logging continued in the area until the early 1960's. Forest Center was a ghost town by 1964. Soon after the town shuttered, the buildings were removed. All that remains of Forest Center now is a sign, an open field and the current entry point parking lot for Lake Isabella. See "The Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosytem" by Miron Heinselman for excellent historic information about this area and the BWCA in general.

A couple small creeks flow into the north side of Lake Isabella. However, the majority of the water enters and leaves the lake through two major rivers. The Perent River flows into the eastern side of the lake. The Isabella River flows out the western side of the lake and makes its way all the way west to Bald Eagle Lake. These two rivers offer the only route options from this area and both of them are quite long. The Perent River presents the more rugged route of the two, with many portages.

The lake used to support nearly a dozen campsites and was often quite busy. However, the condition of many of those campsites is now in question due to the recent fire, so don't assume every red dot on your map is going to be inhabitable. One benefit of the fire is that Isabella Lake now receives far fewer visitors. Therefore finding campsites and solitude are easier. The parking lot was empty on a July weekend in 2016.

Isabella Lake itself is a large open and shallow lake dominated by a large island in the lakes northern half. The fishing on Lake Isabella is mostly for northern pike and walleye. Some other species, not commonly found in the BWCA, are also present.

Exploring Isabella Lake

Routes to locations on Isabella Lake are shown below:
View of Isabella Lake from BWCA Entry Point 35

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Isabella Lake 1
Wide view of Isabella Lake from the entry point portage landing. (View is wider than it appears due to camera distortion.)

Isabella Lake 2
Looking to the west along Isabella Lake's south shoreline.

Isabella Lake 3
A view toward the east. Isabella Lake sits in a large shallow basin. The deepest part of this fairly large lake is less than 20 feet.

Isabella Lake 4
View to the north of Lake Isabella.

Isabella Lake on a calm, overcast day. View is from the BWCA Entry Point 35 portage landing. The easy portage up to the parking lot is about 70 rods.

Route Connections for Lake Isabella

From Lake Isabella, you can portage into the Isabella River or the Perent River. You can also exit the wilderness by portaging from the lake to BWCA Entry Point 35 parking lot.

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PMA #1: Weeny PMA #4: Tick PMA #7: Pitfall PMA #10: Hairy
PMA #2: Canthook PMA #5: Spider PMA #8: Mugwump PMA #11: Weasel
PMA #3: Sundial PMA #6: Drag PMA #9: Humpback PMA #12: Fungus
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