Kelly Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Baker Lake #39 Fishing: MN DNR; Green Sunfish, Northern Pike, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye
Maps: Fisher F-12; McKenzie #21 Lake Depth: MN DNR; 13 feet
Fire History:
Lake Size: 173 acres
Campsites: 5 Wildlife Seen on Visit: Loons, Waterfowl
Last Visited: May 27, 2016 Lake Elevation: 1747 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR

Routes from Kelly Lake:
To Burnt Lake: Walk the 230 rod portage
To Jack Lake: Walk the 65 rod portage
To Peterson Lake: Walk the 3 rod portage (can be skipped sometimes)
To Pipe Creek: Paddle In

Kelly Lake

Tofte Ranger District

Kelly Lake runs southwest/northeast and is basically just a wider section of the Temperance River which flows through it. To the west of Kelly Lake are two large hills. The southern hill has an elevation of 1,986 feet and the northern hill rises to 2,022 feet. Neither hill is named. These hills separate Kelly Lake basin from that of Burnt Lake. The portage to Burnt Lake meanders along the souther end of the south most of these two hills. The elevation of Kelly Lake is 1,747 feet. Another hill, not quite as high, reaches a height of 1,933 feet to the east of the lake near its northern end.

Kelly Lake can be shallow in spots, especially the north end. Later in the season, especially if the water is low, some pushing through weeds may be required.

As mentioned, Kelly Lake is just a wide section of the Temperance River. The Temperance River flows in from Jack Lake (at the north end of Kelly Lake) and out into Peterson Lake at the south end of Kelly Lake. Jack Lake lies four feet above Kelly Lake in elevation and Peterson Lake is one foot below Kelly Lake. Pipe Creek also drains into Kelly Lake, just east of where the Temperance River enters the lake. Pipe Creek is probably paddle worthy for a short distance. However, this creek loses 75 feet of elevation between Tobacco Lake and Kelly Lake (a distance of slightly more than two miles). This would indicate it has some rapids or waterfalls or just a strong current along its length to facilitate that great of a drop.

Exploring Kelly Lake

Kelly Lake from Jack Lake portage in BWCA
Looking south down Kelly Lake from near the Jack Lake portage on a gloomy, rainy afternoon.

Starting from the Jack Lake portage, paddle south down the long length of Kelly Lake.

Kelly Lake in BWCA
The upper part of Kelly Lake is pretty shallow and can get very weedy in the summertime. Here the lily pads are only just starting to reach the surface. It is late May.

The atmosphere is misty and the rain has become fairly steady. You paddle until you start to round the point that marks the location where Kelly Lake really widens.

Kelly Lake in the Boundary Waters
After canoeing down the northern section of the lake which is fairly narrow, Kelly Lake starts to finally look less like a river (which it is since the Temperance River flows through it) and widens into a lake.

Staying towards the western shore of Kelly Lake, this long paddle continues southward. Rain is still coming down, but there is no wind or lightning in the area so you just keep paddling along.

Keeping a closer eye on the west shore, you look for and eventually land your canoe at the Burnt Lake portage.

Kelly Lake from Burnt Lake portage in BWCA
The far shoreline is the very south end of Kelly Lake. Just over your right shoulder is the portage path leading the Burnt Lake. This portage is long, but not particularly difficult. The portage does does climb a bit at the start as it ascends the south side of a large hill. The portage descends as it approaches Burnt Lake.

Route Connections for Kelly Lake

From Kelly Lake, you can portage to Burnt Lake, Jack Lake or Peterson Lake. You can also paddle into Pipe Creek, but this creek is not a designated canoe route so it would require bushwhacking to traverse.

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