Nibin Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Stuart River #19 Fishing: Fish finder showed lots of fish. Saw hundreds of little smallmouth bass in the shallows.
Maps: Fisher F-16, F-17; McKenzie #11, #12 Lake Depth: Unknown
Bushwhack Rating: From Stuart Lake: This is definitely a PMA; From Bibon Lake: Piece of Cake Lake Size: 41 acres
Campsites: None Wildlife Seen on Visit: Bald Eagles, Loons, Moose Tailings
Last Visited: September 6, 2014 Lake Elevation: 1294 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR Fire History: 1904, 1894, 1875, 1864 and 1822

Nibin Lake

Sundial Lake PMA

Nibin is a sister lake of Bibon Lake. Nibin means "summer" while Bibon means "winter" in the Ojibwe language.

Coming from Stuart Lake, the bushwhack/portage can be found by locating a large outcrop of small rocks, about a quarter mile north of the portage into Stuart Lake from the Stuart River. This smooth rock area likely has a cairn erected to make it easy to find, but it is possible these could get knocked down. While the bushwhack into Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake is long, it follows a still fairly serviceable former portage trail. In a few of the tricky spots, cairns have been placed to help you make the right decision. The bushwhack slowly deteriorates as you move away from Stuart Lake. There was some signs of moose activity along the route. The last part of the bushwhack feels endless as you wind your way down from a ridge through thick brush and then into semi-boggy area near Nibin Lake itself. If you are coming from the Bibon Lake direction, getting into Nibin Lake is trivial.

Nibin Lake is mostly a hard, sandy bottomed lake. It is fairly shallow and various water plants grow throughout. The lake is not choked with plant growth though.

There are several places along Nibin Lakes' shoreline that could serve as campsites.

In 1904, the Mule Lake/Stuart Lake/Bibon Lake/Stuart River complex fire, a relatively small burn, scorched a small part of this area which is now part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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 Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake

The approach to Nibin Lake from the west is through Stuart Lake by making your way along a faint portage trail. The portage trail is covered with blowdown and is a fairly vigorous bushwhack now. From Bibon Lake, you get to Nibin through a short little creek that usually has enough water for a canoe to clear the bottom. There was a very old beaver dam here in 2014 that might require a liftover.

Stuart Lake in the BWCA and the start of Nibin Lake bushwhack
This large table rock outcrop on Stuart Lake marks the location of the start of the bushwhack to Nibin Lake. There will likely be a cairn here, but the place is easy to find regardless.

Cairn marking Nibin Lake bushwhack on Stuart Lake in the BWCA
One last look at Stuart Lake before the vigorous 180 rod bushwhack to Nibin Lake.

Walking from the lakeshore along Stuart Lake, head up to the edge of the forest where the old, now unmaintained portage trail begins that leads to Nibin Lake.

Approach to Nibin Lake from Bibon Lake

Nibin Lake in the BWCA Sundial Lake PMA
This is a view toward Nibin Lake from the small creek that you traverse from Bibon Lake. This creek is floatable except that you may have to lift over a beaver dam.

Bushwhack to Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake

This is the first part of the bushwhack from Stuart Lake to Nibin Lake. The next part is shown below.

Lichen garden along bushwhack to Nibin Lake in Sundial Lake PMA
If you peak out from under your canoe during the bushwhack, there are many subtle, but pretty things to see in the forest. This is around the halfway point.

This video shows the last half of the bushwhack going from Stuart Lake and finally reaching Nibin Lake. This last part is discouraging because you have to wind down from the hill; the faint trail does not follow a direct path at all. So you are close to Nibin Lake, but seems to take forever to reach it.

Exploring Nibin Lake

Nibin Lake in the BWCA
This will be a very pleasant sight if you have just completed the bushwhack to Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake. Directly across the lake, to the right, is a nice point that could serve as a reasonable campsite (just right of center). The area directly to the right is a large peat bog that extends out from this end of the lake.

A full 360 degree view of Nibin Lake from the start of the portage/bushwhack trail leading back to Stuart Lake. You can see that faint trail through the grass when looking back toward the woods. There is (usually) a cairn here that is visible from the the water that can help you find this location.

Cairn at Nibin Lake marking start of bushwhack back to Stuart Lake in the BWCA
This small rock cairn along Nibin Lake marks the start of the bushwhack back to Stuart Lake. You will want to remember this if you are returning the same way you came in. If you are coming from the Sterling Lake direction, this cairn and boulder are easy to see if you take your time paddling the area close to shore.

Starting from the end of the bushwhack just completed from Stuart Lake, paddle west towards the marshy area on that end of Nibin Lake and then easterly along the south shoreline to the east end of the lake.

Nibin Lake in the Sundial Lake Primitive Management Area
This is the large marsh that extends from the western shoreline of Nibin Lake into the forest. The rock outcrop on the left of the photo is directly across the lake from the point where you bushwhacked into Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake. This rocky outcropping seemed to offer some reasonable locations for setting up a tent.

After taking a last glance back at Bibon Lake, return through the small creek and paddle along Nibins north shoreline.

Nibin Lake BWCA Sundial PMA
From near the bushwhacking start point back to Stuart Lake, this is the view to the east along the north shoreline of Nibin Lake

Continue along Nibin Lake's north shore until you sight the rock cairn that marks the location of the beginning of the long bushwhack to Stuart Lake.

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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