BWCA Entry Point 35 - Isabella Lake
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Entry Point: Isabella Lake #35 Last Visited: July 25, 2021;
Previous Visit(s): July 10, 2016
Maps: Fisher F-4; McKenzie #19 Daily Quota: 2
Fire History: 2011
Nearest Ranger Station: Tofte Ranger Station, Tofte, MN along Hwy. 61 on the North Shore
Portage Length from Parking Lot: 71 rods Restroom at Entry Point: Yes

BWCA Entry Point 35 - Isabella Lake

Tofte Ranger District

This entry point is found just under a mile past the Island River entry point. You will know you are close when you cross the old wooden bridge. The Isabella Lake entry point parking lot is also shared by BWCA Entry Point 86 - Powwow Trail.

The access road to the Lake Isabella Entry Point is the same as that for the Island River entry point, but its one mile or so farther down the road. From Minnesota Highway 1, head to the town of Isabella if coming from the North Shore (Lake Superior). Once in Isabella, just head out of town on Forest Road 912. There are many signs along these gravel forest roads that show the mileage and direction to the many BWCA entry points in the area. The signs are posted at almost every intersection.

Before you reach the Island River bridge crossing, you will enter the 2011 Pagami Fire burn area. It stretches for many miles. The Lake Isabella entry point wasn't spared by the fire. Except for a stand of pine trees near the parking lot, there aren't many mature trees eft standing in the area, although new growth (particulary jack pine) is rapidly greening the area up.

The portage down to the lake is very easy and mostly downhill.

Heading out from the canoe landing, you have two route choices - east or west. Most groups head to the west down the Isabella River. Places to visit along the Isabella River include Quadga Lake and access to two small rivers; the Snake River and the Little Isabella River. If you follow the Isabella River all the way to its mouth, you will have reached Bald Eagle Lake. A nice little loop can be done on the lakes around Bald Eagle Lake. Many paddlers do out and back trips to this entry point. If headed east, you will have to face the Perent River. There are many short portages along this river as you follow east to Perent Lake. Perent Lake is a large and popular lake that is typically accessed from BWCA Entry Point 36 - Hog Creek. You could put one car at the Isabella Lake entry point and one at the Hog Creek entry point and do a shuttle if you don't want to double-back to your starting point.

Exploring the Entry Point

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Isabella Lake Entry Point 1A
Sign along Tomahawk Road (also known as Forest Road 377). Almost there (July 2021). Most of the burned trees have now fallen.

Isabella Lake Entry Point 1
Nearly same view as above (July 2016). Notice how almost all the burnt tree skeletons are still standing.

Isabella Lake Entry Point 2A
Signage indicates this parking lot is used for both BWCA Entry Point 35 - Isabella Lake and BWCA Entry Point 86 - Powwow Trail. Good view of the burned timber in the background (July 2021).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 2
Similar image to that shown above (July 2016).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 6
A finer privy you won't find for many miles in any direction courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service. The bulletin board in the distance is the one for the Powwow Trail. To the far left is the entrance road that leads out to the main drag (Tomahawk Road). Once on the main road, it is under a mile to the nearby Island River crossing/entry point (July 2016).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 7
Similar to view above, slightly different angle. See how much the forest has changed (July 2021).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 5
A wider view of the parking lot (July 2016). You are looking toward the start of the portage that leads to the lake. There is another bulletin board over your left shoulder (out of view) that is for users of the Powwow Trail. The Powwow Trail was effectively destroyed by the 2011 Pagami Creek Fire. However, because of the efforts of a lot of volunteers (Good job!), the trail is now back in action (as of late 2019).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 4B
Most recent image of this sign (May 12, 2023).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 4A
The sign explains the historical significance of this place (July 2021).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 4
View of this sign from a few years back (July 2016).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 3B
The 71 rod portage down to Isabella Lake begins here at the end of the parking lot (May 12, 2023).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 3A
Similar to the photo shown above (July 2021).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 3
Close to the same photo as shown above (July 2016).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 9
Close up of the newer bulletin board (July 2021).

A very easy portage, mostly downhill to the lake. Passes through an area of planted pine trees that had the bases of their trunks blackened, but otherwise survived the massive forest fire (May 12, 2023). (See this portage in both directions here.)

Past video of this portage (July 25, 2021).

Older footage of this portage (July 2016).

Isabella Lake Entry Point 10
Shoreline of Lake Isabella. This is during drought conditions, so much of the beach is exposed (July 2021).

Now that you've reached the shore of the lake, visit: ISABELLA LAKE

Return to List of BWCA Entry Points (sorted by Entry Point Name or by Entry Point #)

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