Horsefish Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Kawishiwi Lake or Round Lake Fishing: Unknown
Maps: Fisher F-11, F-12; McKenzie #7, #8 Lake Depth: Unknown
Bushwhack Rating: Lake Size: 51 acres
Campsites: None Wildlife Seen on Visit: Never visited
Last Visited: Never Lake Elevation: 1647 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR Fire History: 1894, 1875 and 1863-64

Horsefish Lake

Mugwump Lake PMA

The map outline of this lake resembles a seahorse.

There used to be two maintained portages into this lake. One was from Image Lake (two portages of 55 rods and 40 rods between Horsefish Lake and Image Lake separated by a pond). The other portage was from Pace Lake. This was 155 rods. There is evidence that this portage at least, still exists. These portages were still shown on the 1993 Fisher F-12 map.

Using these old portages, There used to be a through route from Vee Lake to Gabimichigami Lake. There was a long portage to Amimi Lake (180 rods) from Vee Lake, then from Pace Lake 155 rods to Horsefish Lake. From Horsefish Lake take a 40 rod portage to an unnamed creek that connects to Image Lake, then 55 rods from the creek into Image Lake. Finally, paddle downstream to Leg Lake and then do the 20 rod portage into Gabimichigami Lake. Should be easy.

In 1894, a relatively small fire burned the area between Pace Lake and Sprig Lake in what is now the Mugwump Lake Primitive Management Area within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Horsefish Lake was probably along the eastern border of this burned area, with the northwestern part of the lake most impacted..

In 1875, a large fire complex called the Alice Lake/Ogishkemuncie Lake/Tuscarora Lake/Cherokee Lake Complex burned the area around all those major lakes. It probably started near Lake Insula or the Hog Lake area.

There was another large fire in this area around 1863-1864. This fire is known as the North Kawishiwi River/Alice Lake/Cypress Lake/Saganaga Lake Complex. Like the fire that burned this area in 1875, it began south of the current BWCAW's southern boundary.

Approach to Horsefish Lake

From Image Lake: Near the south end of Image Lake, in the lakes southwest corner, look for a creek inlet. See if you can find remnants of the old portage that used to begin here.

From Pace Lake: Head to the very eastern most point on Pace Lake and try to find the old portage that used to run out to Horsefish Lake.

Bushwhack to Horsefish Lake

From Image Lake: The first 20 rods has the creek passing through forest and therefore, this section of the creek is not navigable. See if you can find the old portage here which probably followed the creek. Eventually, the creek enters the usual peat bog and proceeds southwest. You are traveling upstream from Image Lake to Horsefish Lake. The old portage that used to exist here ran for another 35 rods and at that point, the creek used to be navigable. Paddle along the creek for another 70 rods until it turns straight south. (Note: If one were to turn north here and follow the peat bog in that direction, you would eventually get up to Glitter Lake.) After it turns south, the creek soon becomes impassable in a canoe again. It is here that there used to be another portage of 40 rods that headed straight south to the very north tip of the long north arm of Horsefish Lake. The creek bends around to the west at this point, but the portage goes straight south through the trees and is a shorter distance overall. The creek looks to pass through a rocky and rough section so finding the former portage here is worth the effort.

From Pace Lake: The 2011 McKenzie #8 map still shows a dotted line trail between Pace Lake and Horsefish Lake. So the old portage was still reasonably detectable only a few years ago. When you find the trail, follow it for 155 rods. Caution: Make sure you are following the trail! These old portage trails can be crisscrossed by game trails or other openings in the forest that can get you off track. Do not continue following a trail unless you are certain it is the “real” one. It is very easy to get lost out here. Always carry a compass and/or GPS unit. It is possible that this trail may have a few cairns along the route to help with guidance.

Exploring Horsefish Lake

Horsefish Lake is quite big. Finding all the old portages would be a good place to start exploring this lake. Another small lake, Kaiak Lake, lies just east along a small creek. Kaiak Lake has extensive rock ledges which one may find to be interesting if you care to visit. Several peat bogs extend out from the bays that divvy up Horsefish Lake. Paddlers could also head out of the south end of Horsefish Lake toward Cookoosh Lake. An unnamed lake of reasonable size lies just to the southeast of Horsefish Lake halfway between Horsefish Lake and Incus Lake.

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
Amimi Lake Glitter Lake Maymay Lake Raven Lake
Bakekana Lake Horsefish Lake Median Lake Riddle Lake
Balmy Lake Image Lake Mugwump Lake Siren Lake
Bewon Lake Incus Lake My Lake Sprig Lake
Capote Lake Kaiak Lake Pace Lake Travois Lake
Cookoosh Lake Leg Lake Pouch Lake Van Lake
Darlet Lake Lounge Lake Rapture Lake Your Lake
Elk Lake Marble Lake    
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