Cherokee Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Sawbill Lake #38 Fishing: MN DNR; Lake Trout, Northern Pike
Maps: Fisher F-12; McKenzie #21 Lake Depth: MN DNR; 142 feet
Fire History: 1875, 1936; Logging as recent as 1960's
Lake Size: 837 acres
Campsites: 18 (1 visited)
Campsite 1
Wildlife Seen on Visit: Loons, Waterfowl
Last Visited: June 16, 2019
Previous Visit(s): May 26, 2016
Lake Elevation: 1788 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR

ROUTES/PORTAGES FROM CHEROKEE LAKE:
To Cherokee Creek: Paddle In
To Gordon Lake: Walk the 15 rod portage
To Ranger Lake: Bushwhack for about 80 rods (this used to be a maintained portage)
To Sniff Lake: Bushwhack for about 5 rods
To Town Lake: Walk the 5 rod portage, paddle across small pond, walk the 10 rod portage

Cherokee Lake

Tofte Ranger District

CHEROKEE LAKE CAMPSITES:
Campsite 1: Campsite on the north end of large island in north end of lake.

Cherokee Lake is the primary destination lake in this area. There are many campsites on this lake, but not all campsites are created equally. Therefore if you want one of the better campsites on the lake, you may want to stake out a camp early in the day. The lake serves as a hub for several other routes. From the north end of Cherokee you can head into Gordon Lake. This is the way up to Long Island Lake and the Frost River area. The eastern side of the lake has two routes. The northern route eventually leads to Brule Lake. This is a very rugged route with only a single campsite all the way to Brule Lake. The southern route going east from Cherokee Lake takes you over to the Temperance River. Cherokee Lake also provides a route to the south, which eventually leads to Sawbill Lake.

The fishing for lake trout in Cherokee Lake is considered spotty; odd given the depth and size of this lake. Cherokee Lake is one of the deepest lakes in the BWCA. Northern pike are also in here.

There are a number of smaller lakes, particularly along the west shoreline of Cherokee Lake that do not have portages yet are still relatively accessible. Ranger Lake used to have a maintained portage and remnants of that portage are probably still intact. It used to show as 80 rods on maps. Sniff Lake near the southwest corner of Cherokee Lake can also be visited with relatively little effort. Snip Lake beyond that too. There are other possibilities as well for the more adventurous.

Cherokee Lake is fed from the south by Cherokee Creek. Sniff Lake drains its small watershed into the lake through a little creek too, near the southwest corner of the lake. Further north up the west shore a creek from Ranger Lake drains into Cherokee Lake. From the northeast comes the water of Town Lake, through a narrow creek by the portage. Finally, Snub Lake's water passes into Cherokee Lake through a connecting stream. Cherokee Lake itself drains to the north into Gordon Lake. Cherokee Lake may be the source of the Long Island River.

A massive fire struck this area around 1875. Another fire started by lightning occurred in 1936 and burned around 3200 acres (relatively small). Logging occurred near the south end of Cherokee Lake as late as the 1960's (Heinselman).

Exploring Cherokee Lake

Routes to locations on Cherokee Lake are shown below:
View of Cherokee Lake from the mouth of Cherokee Creek
Paddling from the campsite on the large island in north part of lake to the Town Lake portage
View of Cherokee Lake from the Gordon Lake portage

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

VIEW OF CHEROKEE LAKE FROM THE MOUTH OF CHEROKEE CREEK

Cherokee Lake 1
Looking into Cherokee Lake from the mouth of Cherokee Creek at dusk.
Explore Another Route
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PADDLING FROM THE CAMPSITE ON THE LARGE ISLAND IN NORTH PART OF LAKE TO THE TOWN LAKE PORTAGE


A morning paddle across a lake that is as flat as a mirror. This paddle initiates at the northern most island campsite on Cherokee Lake. The route takes you to the east, along the south shoreline. The final destination is the Town Lake portage.


Cherokee Lake 2
Reflections seen along the southeast shore of Cherokee Lake, in the northeastern part of the lake.


Cherokee Lake 3
Cliffs along Cherokee Lake. Around that point. just to the left of the center of your view, is the entrance to the small bay where the portage to Town Lake is located.


Cherokee Lake 4
You are looking at the south shore of the little bay where you'll find the portage to Town Lake.


Cherokee Lake 5
Another view of the small eastern most bay on Cherokee Lake, just after you round the south point. The portage to Town Lake is on the east shore of this bay.
Portage to Town Lake -or- Explore Another Route
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VIEW OF CHEROKEE LAKE FROM THE GORDON LAKE PORTAGE

Cherokee Lake 6
View of Cherokee Lake looking toward the south from the Gordon Lake portage.
Explore Another Route
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Route Connections for Cherokee Lake

From Cherokee Lake, you can portage to Gordon Lake or Town Lake. You can also paddle into Cherokee Creek. Sniff Lake is also accessible via a short bushwhack. Ranger Lake is also accessible via bushwhack. There used to be a portage to Range Lake, but it is no longer maintained.

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