Snowbank Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Snowbank Lake #27, 28 Fishing: MN DNR Fish Survey; Northern Pike (including the rare silver phase), Lake Trout, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass
Maps: Fisher F-10, F-11, F-31 Special; McKenzie #9 Lake Depth: MN DNR Lake Map; 150 feet
Fire History: 1917, 1910
Lake Size: 4,655 acres
Campsites: 6 Wildlife Seen on Visit: Loons
Last Visited: October 3, 2021;
Previous Visit(s): July 25, 2015
Lake Elevation: 1425 feet
To Boot Lake: Walk the 80 rod portage, paddle across pond, and the 55 rod portage
To BWCA Entry Point 27: Visit the canoe landing
To Disappointment Lake: Walk the 140 rod portage
To Grub Lake: Bushwhack for about 25 rods
To Parent Lake: Walk the 80 rod portage

Snowbank Lake

Kawishiwi Ranger District

None visited yet.

This is a large lake and can thus be rough to paddle in a canoe if the wind is up. The north end of the lake, up near the Boot Lake portage, is particularly exposed. The lake allows motors up to 25 horsepower. Much of the lake is also outside of the BWCA. Snowbank Lake hosts entry points 27 and 28. Most of this boats are out on the lake fishing for walleye, lake trout and northern pike (including a relatively rare silver phase subspecies).

Snowbank Lake is 150 feet deep (one of the deepest lakes in the BWCA) and well over 4,000 acres. Several large named islands dot the lakes surface. The 1999 Independence Day windstorm did quite a bit of damage to the forest along the north shore of the lake. At least two commercial lodges are active on the lake: Wilderness Bay Lodge and Smitty's on Snowbank. Additional damage to the surrounding forest occurred in July 2016. This destruction is evident along the portage between Snowbank Lake and Disappointment Lake.

There are a number of cabins scattered along the lakes shoreline. You can tell the parts of the lake that are outside of the BWCA by noticing where the cabins are visible.

Snowbank Lake gets is name from a translation of it's Ojibwe name. This translation roughly means "snow blown into heaps, lying about here and there". Boot Island on Snowbank Lake is named for its shape.

Most folks entering on Snowbank Lake make a bee line for one of the three major portages providing access to the BWCA beyond Snowbank Lake. These portages are the Boot Lake portage on the very northeast tip of the lake. This portage consists of an 80 rod portage, then a paddle across a small pond, and finally another 55 rod portage into Boot Lake. Old maps used to show this as a single portage, but since the 1999 windstorm, it has been two separate portages. Disappointment Lake is accessible by a 140 rod up and over portage. Parent Lake is an 80 rod portage. If the wind is blowing hard and Snowbank Lake is rolling, head to the Parent Lake portage and use it, since it is the closest to the entry point and the most protected route. This is an alternative route if your group is heading to Disappointment Lake.

The north side of Snowbank Lake burned in 1910. Extensive area around the lake also burned in 1917. These were slash fires. Slash is the remaining forest cover that remains after logging operations. The Swallow and Hopkins Company logged much of the area around Snowbank Lake in the first decade of the 1900's (Heinselman, 1999).

Beymer, Robert, Boundary Waters Canoe Area – Volume 1 – Western Region (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 2006), 170, 172, 173, 175, 180, 196.
Heinselman, Miron, The Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 101, 102, 103, 199, 209, 236, 274.
Pauly, Daniel, Exploring the Boundary Waters (Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 169, 170, 173.

Exploring Snowbank Lake

Routes to locations on Snowbank Lake are shown below:
Paddling from the BWCA Entry Point 27 landing to the Parent Lake portage
Paddling from the Disappointment Lake portage to the BWCA Entry Point 27 landing
Paddling from the Boot Lake portage south past East Island and then ending near Halli Island

Click on the photos below to see the full resolution image - Use your browsers back button to close photo and return to this page.


Snowbank Lake 1
The small island (left side of your view) that lies straight out from the entry point landing. The north end of Burnt Island is right behind the small island. If heading to Parent Lake portage, head just right of the little island and then paddle just north of the north end of Burnt Island. Once past Burnt Island, the route to the Parent Lake portage is straight ahead (July 25, 2015).

From the BWCA Entry Point 27 landing, paddle across Snowbank Lake to the Parent Lake portage. The route passes by the small island visible from the dock at the entry point and then goes near the north end of Burnt Island. Finally the route continues into Wilderness Bay where Wilderness Bay Lodge and the Parent Lake portage are located (October 3, 2021).

Older footage showing similar route as shown above (July 25, 2015). (Note: Video ends about 100 feet from portage to avoid recording another party using the portage.)

Snowbank Lake 2
A view of the Wilderness Bay Lodge from the Parent Lake portage landing (July 25, 2015).

Snowbank Lake 2a
Another view of Wilderness Bay Lodge from the Parent Lake portage, but the view is panned a bit to the left compared to the image above. Also the image is taken in a different season, several years later (October 3, 2021).
Portage to Parent Lake -or- Explore Another Route
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Snowbank Lake 4
Looking west at the small bay on Snowbank Lake where the 140 rod Disappointment Lake portage is located (October 3, 2021).

Snowbank Lake map1 Evening paddle during the fall season. Beginning from the Disappointment Lake portage, paddle toward the southwest along the south shoreline of Snowbank Lake. Pass to the north of Burnt Island before heading west again to the BWCA Entry Point 27 canoe landing (October 3, 2021).

Snowbank Lake 5
Reaching the Snowbank Lake access point (October 3, 2021).
Visit BWCA Entry Point 27 -or- Explore Another Route
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Snowbank Lake 3
Early evening looking out from the Boot Lake portage landing at Snowbank Lake. Note that it looks like a calm evening for paddling, however this is a small protected bay. Out on the main part of the lake, the waves in the afternoon on this day were about two feet high at times. Had to wait until evening to make the long crossing of Snowbank Lake (July 25, 2015).

Paddling Snowbank Lake from the Boot Lake portage, south along the east side of the lake passing by the northwest corner of East Island. From East Island continue southwest toward Harri Island (Snowbank Lakes largest island). Route ends just over one mile northeast of the BWCA Entry Point 27 parking lot (July 25, 2015).
Explore Another Route
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Route Connections for Snowbank Lake

From Snowbank Lake, you can portage to Boot Lake, Disappointment Lake or Parent Lake.You can also bushwhack to Grub Lake and Wooden Lake. Snowbank Lake also provides access to the BWCA for Entry Point 27 - Snowbank Lake and Entry Point 28 - Snowbank Lake (restricted).

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