Rock Island Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Lake One #30 Fishing: Saw large northern pike (35"+) near mouth of Rock Island Creek. MN DNR Fish Survey.
Maps: Fisher F-4 or F-31 and McKenzie #18 Lake Depth: 21 feet
Bushwhack Rating: Piece of Cake Lake Size: 55 acres
Campsites: One Wildlife Seen on Visit: Beaver
Last Visited: September 8, 2013 Lake Elevation: 1460 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR Fire History: 2011 and 1894

Rock Island Lake

Weasel Lake PMA

Rock Island Lake is accessed from Lake Two. There is a portage to the left of the small creek. The creek initially is filled with toppled trees, probably many from the recent fire. After about 10 rods of easy bushwhacking along this portage, the creek becomes navigable thanks to our beaver friends who had created at least one dam for you to lift your gear over. The creek widens as it approaches Rock Island Lake.

Rock Island Lake is an easy PMA lake to reach and also has a fairly good campsite. Combine that with the fact that there are northern pike in the lake and you have a good reason to visit. Some of the shoreline has been burned, but other sections of the lakes shore are unaffected by the recent fire.

The campsite is located on a nice point and provides an expansive view of this very pretty lake.

Via the west bay of Rock Island Lake, a bushwhack can be made to reach Judd Lake. Clearwater Lake may be accessible beyond Judd Lake, but I was unable to find the portage path that once existed between those two lakes.

This lake used to have a different name. On the 1952 Fisher No. 113 map, this lake is referred to as One Island Lake. Makes some sense as there is one island. Current name makes sense too, because the island is made of rock. Officially, the latter origination of the name is the true origin.

In 1894 a fire affected this area. This fire started somewhere near Gabbro Lake and burned from Gabbro Lake up to Lake One, Lake Two and Lake Three.

Approach to Rock Island Lake

The entire approach to Rock Island Lake shown here is from Lake Two.

Bushwhack to Rock Island Lake

Creek connecting Rock Island Lake to Lake Two in the BWCA
You stand next to the mouth of Rock Island Creek, just as it flows into Lake Two. You stay to the left of the creek for the portage. The path is obvious with a few fallen trees to maneuver around, over or under.

You come to this Beaver dam along Rock Island Creek, as you look upstream in the direction of Rock Island Lake. This took you just a few paddle strokes to reach, just upstream from where the portage ended that you walked from Lake Two.

BWCA Weasel Lake Primitive Management Area
You take a breather and look back downstream after clearing that last beaver dam. The beaver dam was only about 100 feet upstream from the end of the portage/bushwhack that began at Lake Two. Looking past the trees along the creek, you can glimpse that back in the forest, some of the trees were burned by the 2011 Pagami Creek Fire in this area.

Weasel Lake PMA in the BWCA
A bit further upstream and the creek starts to widen for you. Just ahead you can see the creek enters a marsh and hooks to the left. At this point, it is much easier to see the burn scars of the recent forest fire.

Boundary Waters and the Weasel Lake PMA
You stop along Rock Island Creek (not official name as far as I know) as it flows through the marsh, taking in the scenery. The fire seemed to burn some areas and leave other islands of forest intact. The water is low during your visit.

You travel along the creek between Lake Two and Rock Island Lake.

Exploring Rock Island Lake

Rock Island Lake in the BWCA Weasel Lake PMA
Soon after entering the lake, you look back towards where Rock Island Creek flows out of Rock Island Lake. You are in the northern end of the lake.

You are paddling down the western arm of Rock Island Lake, through which you expect to get to Judd Lake.

You are now paddling toward the far western end of Rock Island Lake, where the creek from Judd Lake flows in.

Passing by 'Rock Island', you paddle on. Eventually you pull your cano up to and land at the campsite on Rock Island Lake. You discover that the campsite has a nice landing and is in rather good shape.

Rock Island Lake in the BWCA
Taking in the expansive view from the lakes campsite. You are generally looking toward the south. The island for which the lake is probably named is easily seen. Not a bad view...

You continue canoeing and exploring the southern part of Rock Island Lake, until you have completed its circumnavigation.

From old campsite on Rock Island Lake in the BWCA
Turning, you look toward the north from the campsite. Rock Island Creek flows out of the lake back towards Lake Two around the corner to the right. Left of center is the bay leading towards Judd Lake.

After leaving the campsite, you paddle and bushwhack from Rock Island Lake all the way back out to Lake Two through and along Rock Island Creek.

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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