Fool Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Cross River #50 or Missing Link Lake #51 (via Round Lake) Fishing: Saw fish jumping (smallmouth and northern pike) and detected fish on fish finder
Maps: Fisher F-12, McKenzie #7 Lake Depth: At least 14 feet; measured with depth finder
Bushwhack Rating: This is definitely a PMA Lake Size: 43 acres
Campsites: One Wildlife Seen on Visit: Ducks
Last Visited: August 16, 2014 Lake Elevation: 1770 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR Fire History: 1936, 1894, 1846, 1824 and 1727

Fool Lake

Hairy Lake PMA

Fool Lake is fairly large and is at least 14 feet in depth (maximum depth seen using fish finder paddling throughout the lake). The lake has one reasonable campsite located in the eastern end of the lake on the south shore. This site appears to see few visitors, but had enough space for tent pads and also had a relatively nice canoe landing area. Fish finder detected fairly good fish activity and a number of fish were seen jumping and swirling in the lake.

The bushwhack into Fool lake is somewhat difficult to find. To locate it, head up the creek from the unnamed lake between Fool Lake and Cross Bay Lake. This same creek also leads to Lucky Pay Lake. When you get to some large cliffs in the creek, you will notice what appears to be a beaver run going through the marsh grass when you are facing opposite these cliffs. This "beaver run" is perhaps a hundred feet long and leads to a cleared landing which is obviously the start of an old portage trail. The portage trail while traceable, is really more of a bushwhack now. This bushwhack goes back and forth between carrying and paddling. There is a nasty mud hole just below the small pond, about midway along the portage. This pond is held back by a large beaver dam. The entire bushwhack into Fool Lake is through dense forest.

From Fool Lake, it is only a short bushwhack into Jester Lake. The bushwhack to Jester Lake follows a small unnavigable creek and is less than 20 rods. Jester Lake is worth a visit as it is deep and quite scenic. Jester Lake also has some interesting rock formations. A favorite lake among PMA lakes that I have visited. The creek coming into the bay in the middle of the south shore of Fool Lake is not canoeable. This creek flows out of Swollen Ankle Lake which lies about 1/4 mile to the south of Fool Lake. It appears that the best approach to Swollen Ankle Lake would be through Yogi Lake which lies south of Swollen Ankle Lake. Another way to Swollen Ankle Lake would be to take the creek from Lucky Pay Lake. Much of this creek is quite floatable in a canoe.

Could it be that Fool Lake got its name for all the voyagers who ended up with sore ankles trying to bushwhack to Swollen Ankle Lake from Fool Lake?

A number of smaller burns affected the eastern part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 1936, including some areas in the Hairy Lake Primitive Management Area.

1894 saw a large number of fires throughout the entire BWCA. The fire in this area is called the Snipe Lake/Round Lake area to Gunflint Lake/Pine Lake area complex. This fire probably got its start near Round Lake, a popular BWCA entry point.

A fire started within what is now the Hairy Lake Primitive Management Area. The ignition point was probably somewhere between Mass Lake and Auk Lake. This fire, which took place in 1846, is called the Auk Lake/Long Island Lake/Cross Bay Lake Complex.

The 1824 Long Island Lake/Rush Lake/Loon Lake fire complex probably burned the eastern part of the Hairy Lake Primitive Management Area and moved eastward. It likely started somewhere around Snipe Lake, or perhaps the northwest part of Long Island Lake.

Way back in 1727, the Gordon Lake/Brule Lake/Winchell Lake Complex burned this area. It probably began somewhere near Sawbill Lake.

Approach to Fool Lake

You carry your canoe uphill from Cross Bay Lake, around a small waterfall, and eventually reach a scenic unnamed lake. There is a wall of rock next to the waterfall that requires climbing up the rock and then pulling your gear and canoe up. Paddling across the unnamed lake will bring you to the creek on its opposite shore that leads farther into the Hairy Lake PMA; namely to Fool Lake, Jester Lake and Lucky Pay Lake (the Gambler Lakes or Royal Court Lakes).

Upon reaching the south shore of the the unnamed lake, you head upstream along a little creek. As you reach an area with high cliffs on the left, you notice that when looking away from the cliffs in the other direction, there is a beaver run that leads back toward the forest edge. This is the way to Fool Lake. Continuing along the creek past the beaver run at the base of the cliff takes you to a small rapids where the bushwhack begins to Lucky Pay Lake.

Bushwhack and Paddle along Stream through the Forest

From the fairly large cliffs along the creek, south of the unnamed lake, you find and head up a beaver run going through the marsh grass, back toward the forest line. A short paddle up this beaver run and you spot a surprisingly good portage landing. You unload and start your bushwhack. You soon come to an evil mudhole below a beaver dam. The dam holds back a small pond. This little pond is visible on your BWCA map. Unfortunately, while looking down at your map, you stepped into the mud. Do not step in the mud!

Fool Lake Bushwhack in the Hairy Lake PMA in the BWCA
This is the "Mud Hole" you extricated your leg from. The mud is deeper than your paddle is long. It was difficult just getting your lower leg and foot out so...take care not to step in this hole. This is really quicksand and you may be in trouble if you went in waist deep and had nobody along to help you out.

Hairy Lake Primitive Management Area
Looking across the the small pond that you just crossed on the way to Fool Lake. Directly across the pond, to the left of the rock outcrop, is a beaver dam. Below this beaver dam is the "Mud Hole".

Starting from the small pond, you paddle onward to the otherside and then begin the next section of the bushwhack. There is a faint trail to follow still. It is less obvious now, but the creek guides you. After a quick bushwhack, you put the canoe back into another section of creek and paddle forth. Through this section you have to perform a few beaver dam liftovers. You are no doubt an expert at this now, barely breaking stride (er, stroke). You polish off the bushwhack to Fool Lake with another carry. This ends at the northern tip of Fool Lake in a swampy bay.

Exploring Fool Lake

Fool Lake in the BWCA Hairy Lake PMA
You look out on a small bay of Fool Lake after completing the moderately demanding bushwhack.

After you recover a moment from the bushwhack, you begin paddling through this small bay and out into the main part of Fool Lake.

You paddle along the western shoreline of Fool Lake and up the small channel leading to the bushwhack to Jester Lake.

From the creek leading up to Jester Lake, you paddle out of the weedy bay and proceed east along the south shoreline of Fool Lake. Paddling back into another small bay at about the middle point of the south shore of the lake, you recon a wetland and tiny creek that could potentially be followed/bushwhacked out to Swollen Ankle Lake. This way to Swollen Ankle Lake doesn't appear pleasant. Maybe there is a better route...

You start at the bay on Fool Lake's south shore nearest to Swollen Ankle Lake. With steady paddling, you reach the eastern end of lake. Finally, you continue up Fool Lake's eastern shoreline.

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
Auk Lake Fool Lake Juniper Lake Plug Lake
Burt Lake Fungus Lake Little Copper Lake Ragged Lake
Din Lake Hairy Lake Lucky Pay Lake Sora Lake
Don Lake Intersection Lake Mass Lake Swollen Ankle Lake
Ell Lake Iris Lake Moth Lake Tame Lake
Fetters Lake Jester Lake Myth Lake Yogi Lake
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