Contest Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Stuart River #19 Fishing: Lake is shallow. Saw no fish and didn't wet a line
Maps: Fisher F-16, F-17; McKenzie #11, #12 Lake Depth: Less than 10 feet
Bushwhack Rating: There are worse... Lake Size: About 15 acres
Campsites: Possibly One Wildlife Seen on Visit: Trumpeter Swans, Ducks
Last Visited: September 6, 2014 Lake Elevation: 1310 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR Fire History: 1894, 1875, 1864 and 1822

OVERVIEW

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Contest Lake

Sundial Lake PMA

A small lake surrounded by a peat bog on the north and western shoreline. The eastern shoreline is rocky with some substantial cliff formations. The entire lake is shallow, but not overgrown with weeds; mostly open water.

The BWCA maps show a small creek into Contest Lake, but other than the first 100 feet from the Stuart River, the rest is definitely not navigable. This small creek mouth is easy to miss too. The creek mouth is about a one minute upriver paddle on the Stuart River from the next portage. There is no trail or other signs that little Contest Lake gets much visitation.

It looked like you could find a place to land a canoe and set up a tent along the rocky eastern shoreline of Contest Lake. Nobody would ever know that you are here, even though a thin, but steady line of canoeists is making their way up and down the Stuart River only a short distance away.

There were many ducks and a group of trumpeter swans swimming around Contest Lake when I visited.

There is another remnant lake named Contest Lake in the BWCA. It is over near the Round Lake entry point off the Gunflint Trail.

The known fires in this region were the 1894 fires (possibly two of them) that are known as the Oriniack/Sioux River/Lac La Croix/Crooked Lake complex and the Chad/Cummings/Lac La Croix/Crooked Lake complex. In 1875 the Mule Creek/Sterling Lake/Sunday Lake/Crooked Lake complex burned much of the area. Eleven years prior to that, in 1864, the Little Indian Sioux River/Lac La Croix/Crooked Lake complex burned here. The oldest fire known to affect the area occurred in 1822 and is referred to as the Hook Lake/Hegman Lake/Crooked Lake complex.


Approach to Contest Lake


Paddling from the portage just downstream on the Stuart River to the mouth of the small creek flowing out of Contest Lake


Tiny creek from Contest Lake where it enters Stuart River BWCA
Enter this small opening in the peat bog along the Stuart River and follow the creek about 150 feet. At that point, the creek will become impassable and you will have to bushwhack the rest of the way into Contest Lake.


Bushwhack to Contest Lake


Bushwhacking into Contest Lake from the Stuart River until about midway across the peat bog along the tiny creek. Stop to adjust some gear.



From the halfway point between the Stuart River and Contest Lake, continue the rest of the bushwhack heading east to the shoreline of Contest Lake.


Exploring Contest Lake

Contest Lake in the BWCA Sundial Lake PMA
This will be your first view of Contest Lake when approaching it along the small crick from the Stuart River. You are looking east.


Contest Lake Sundial Lake PMA in the BWCA
Looking back at the small creek where it exits Contest Lake


Swans on Contest Lake in the BWCA
A group of trumpeter swans on Contest Lake; you are looking towards the east in this image.



From the west end of Contest Lake, paddle out of the small creek that you followed during the bushwhack and paddle over towards the rocky south shoreline of the lake.


BWCA Sundial Lake Primitive Management Area
This is looking southwest to the area south along the shoreline from the small creek that leads back towards the Stuart River


Contest Lake BWCA
The rocky shoreline along the southern shoreline of Contest Lake.



Paddling and floating around the east end of Contest Lake.


Sundial Lake PMA in the Boundary Waters
View of the northeast shoreline of Contest Lake.



This short paddle takes you along the north shore of Contest Lake where a few waterfowl were surprised by our visit.


 
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