Swan Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Bower Trout Lake #43 Fishing: MN DNR; Walleye; Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike (in low numbers), very low to non-existant Lake Trout population
Maps: Fisher F-13; McKenzie #3 Lake Depth: MN DNR; 122 feet
Fire History: Lake Size: 200 acres
Campsites: 3 Wildlife Seen on Visit:
Last Visited: July 24, 2020 Lake Elevation: 1689 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR

To Lac Lake: Unmarked portage of about 35 rods
To South Brule River (downstream): Walk the 30 rod portage
To South Brule River (upstream): Paddle In

Swan Lake

Gunflint Ranger District

This is a destination lake along this route. The campsites on this lake tend to get taken quickly. It is midway between the Bower Trout Lake entry point and the Brule Lake entry point. It is a lovely lake, so much sought after by campers.

Swan Lake is a deep, clear lake. It is one of the deeper lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The lake used to support a population of lake trout, but when walleye were introduced into the lake in the early 1900's, the lake trout population declined. There might be a few lake trout in the lake, as stocking efforts have been attempted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The only gamefish species now prevalent in any numbers in this lake is the walleye.

The northern most campsite on the lake used to be the site of an old logging camp. That logging camp was at the end of a spur railway that ran from the current location of the Bower Trout Lake entry point and then along the north shores of Bower Trout Lake, Marshall Lake, Dugout Lake, Skidway Lake, Lac Lake and finally Swan Lake. This railroad was originally built by the Alger-Smith Company. The full railway ran from Duluth up to the Rose Lake area. In 1918 the Northern Lumber Company bought this railroad from the Alger-Smith Company. Finally the General Logging Company bought in and added more miles to this railway. From this main line, railroad spurs were built. One of these spurs once existed along the north shore of Swan Lake. Logging began in earnest on Swan Lake in the mid 1920's. The logging camp on this lake supported at least 35 men. Logging didn't last long on Swan Lake. A combination of the Great Depression, a forest fire, and the discovery that much of the white pine in the area contained heart rot, caused operations to come to a quick end around 1931(Heinselman).

The South Brule River flows through Swan Lake. It enters on the very western end of the lake and leaves from the small bay in the southeast corner of the lake.

The hill that stands over the north side of the lake rises about 200 feet above Swan Lake's surface. The hills surrounding Swan Lake are named the Misquah Hills. The third highest point in Minnesota lies 1.2 miles due north of Swan Lake at Point 2260 (2,260 feet above sea level). A list of the highest points in Minnesota can be found by scrolling down a bit on this page.

The route east of Swan Lake is lightly traveled. Bower Trout Lake entry point only allows a quota of one group per day. Toward the west, much of the traffic from Brule Lake stops at Vernon Lake, as Swan Lake is protected by a 281 rod portage in that direction.

Exploring Swan Lake

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Swan Lake 1
Swan Lake as seen from the South Brule River portage. View is to the north/northwest.

Route Connections for Swan Lake

From Swan Lake you can portage to the South Brule River. You can also follow an unmarked portage to Lac Lake. Finally, you can paddle up the South Brule River heading west. This direction eventually leads to a 281 rod portage to Vernon Lake.

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