Nibin Lake
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Nearest Entry Point: Stuart River #19 Fishing: Fish finder showed lots of fish. Saw hundreds of little smallmouth bass in the shallows.
Maps: Fisher F-16, F-17; McKenzie #11, #12 Lake Depth: Unknown
Bushwhack Rating: From Stuart Lake: This is definitely a PMA; From Bibon Lake: Piece of Cake Lake Size: 41 acres
Campsites: PMA - No designated campsites Wildlife Seen on Visit: Bald Eagles, Loons, Moose Tailings
Last Visited: September 6, 2014 Lake Elevation: 1294 feet
Water Clarity: MN DNR Fire History: 1904, 1894, 1875, 1864 and 1822

Nibin Lake

Sundial Lake PMA

Nibin is a sister lake of Bibon Lake. Nibin means "summer" while Bibon means "winter" in the Ojibwe language.

Coming from Stuart Lake, the bushwhack/portage can be found by locating a large table rock about a quarter mile north of the portage into Stuart Lake from the Stuart River. This large exposed rock area often has a cairn erected to mark the spot (as the starting point of the bushwhack to Nibin Lake). While the bushwhack into Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake is long, it follows a still fairly serviceable former portage trail. In a few of the tricky spots, cairns have been placed to help keep you from getting lost. The bushwhack slowly deteriorates as you move away from Stuart Lake. There was some signs of moose activity (moose tailings) along the route. The last part of the bushwhack feels endless as you wind your way down from a ridge through thick brush and then into a semi-boggy area near Nibin Lake itself. If you are coming from the Bibon Lake direction, getting into Nibin Lake is trivial via a short creek.

Nibin Lake is mostly a hard, sandy bottomed lake. It is fairly shallow and various water plants grow throughout. The lake is not choked with plant growth though.

There are several places along Nibin Lakes' shoreline that could serve as campsites.

In 1904, the Mule Lake/Stuart Lake/Bibon Lake/Stuart River Complex fire, a relatively small burn, scorched a small part of this area.

The known fires in this region were the 1894 blaze(s) (possibly two of them) that are known as the Oriniack/Sioux River/Lac La Croix/Crooked Lake Complex and the Chad/Cummings/Lac La Croix/Crooked Lake Complex. In 1875 the Mule Creek/Sterling Lake/Sunday Lake/Crooked Lake Complex burned much of the area. Eleven years prior to that, in 1864, the Little Indian Sioux River/Lac La Croix/Crooked Lake Complex fire spread through here. The oldest fire known to have affected the area occurred in 1822 and is referred to as the Hook Lake/Hegman Lake/Crooked Lake Complex.

Beymer, Robert, Boundary Waters Canoe Area – Volume 1 – Western Region (Berkeley: Wilderness Press, 2006), 121, 124, 145.
Pauly, Daniel, Exploring the Boundary Waters (Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 125, 139.

What is a Primitive Management Area (PMA)?

Approach to Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake

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The approach to Nibin Lake from the west is through Stuart Lake by making your way along an unmaintained portage trail that is no longer cleared by the U.S Forest Service. The portage trail is covered with blowdown and is somewhat of a bushwhack now. From Bibon Lake, you get to Nibin Lake through a short little creek that usually has enough water for a canoe to clear the bottom. There was a very old beaver dam here in 2014 that might require a liftover.

Nibin Lake 1
This large table rock outcrop on Stuart Lake marks the location of the start of the bushwhack to Nibin Lake. There will likely be a cairn here, but the place is easy to find regardless.

Nibin Lake 2
One last look at Stuart Lake before the moderately vigorous 180 rod bushwhack to Nibin Lake.

Walking from the lakeshore along Stuart Lake, head up to the edge of the forest where the old, now unmaintained portage trail begins. This trail leads to Nibin Lake.

Approach to Nibin Lake from Bibon Lake

Nibin Lake 3
This is a view toward Nibin Lake from the small creek that you traverse from Bibon Lake. This creek is floatable, although you may have to lift over a beaver dam.

Bushwhack from Stuart Lake to Nibin Lake

Nibin Lake 9
The trail heads into the forest right in the center of your view. It is hard to see, but when you are actually standing on the trail in the woods, it is fairly easy to follow. There are a few spots where you need to be careful and ensure you are following the path.

This is the first part of the bushwhack from Stuart Lake to Nibin Lake. The next part is shown below.

Nibin Lake 4
If you peak out from under your canoe during the bushwhack, there are many subtle, but pretty things to see in the forest. This is around the halfway point.

This video shows the last half of the bushwhack from Stuart Lake and finally reaching Nibin Lake. This final part is discouraging because you have to wind down from the hill; the faint trail does not follow a direct path at all. So once you know you are close to Nibin Lake, it seems to take forever to actually reach it.

Bushwhack from Bibon Lake to Nibin Lake

Follow this creek from Bibon Lake to Nibin Lake. There was an old beaver dam on the Bibon Lake end of the creek during last visit. Otherwise, the creek is deep enough and wide enough that you shouldn't have to get out.

Nibin Lake 10
Marsh surrounds the little creek that connects Bibon Lake and Nibin Lake.

Exploring Nibin Lake

Routes to locations on Nibin Lake are shown below:
Paddling from the Stuart Lake bushwhack to the Bibon Lake bushwhack
Paddling from the Bibon Lake bushwhack to the Stuart Lake bushwhack


Nibin Lake 5
This will be a very pleasant sight if you have just completed the bushwhack to Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake. Directly across the lake, to the right, is a nice point that could serve as a reasonable campsite (just right of center). The area directly to the right is a large peat bog that extends out from this end of the lake.

Nibin Lake 6
This small rock cairn along Nibin Lake marks the start of the bushwhack back to Stuart Lake. You will want to remember this if you are returning the same way you came in. If you are coming from the Sterling Lake direction, this cairn and boulder are easy to see if you take your time paddling the area close to shore.

Nibin Lake 7
From near the bushwhacking start point back to Stuart Lake, this is the view to the east along the north shoreline of Nibin Lake.

Nibin Lake 11
Looking straight across the lake from the Stuart Lake bushwhack. Possible place to setup camp on the rocks.

Nibin Lake 8
This is the large marsh that extends from the western shoreline of Nibin Lake into the forest. The rock outcrop on the left of the photo is directly across the lake from the point where you bushwhacked into Nibin Lake from Stuart Lake.

After taking a last glance back at Bibon Lake, return through the small creek and paddle along Nibin Lake's north shoreline.


From the creek leading to Bibon Lake, paddle northwest until you reach the north shoreline of the lake. Generally follow the north shore of the lake westward until you arrive at the start of the bushwhack to Stuart Lake. This bushwhack is usually marked by a cairn. It is on the very west end of the north shoreline.

Nibin Lake 12
Low lying shoreline in the southeast corner of the lake. This is just south of the creek that connects Nibin Lake and Bibon 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
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