Duck Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage East, 140 rods, to the Portage River
  • Portage Southwest, 480 rods, to Big Moose


  • Fisher F-9, Cummings, Big Moose, Fourtown Lakes
  • McKenzie No. 12, Moose River; No. 16, Burntside Lake


  • DNR Lake No. 690191
  • Lake Map No. C0905
  • Lake Table No. 1
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality - N/A
Duck Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Duck is a rather small, very shallow lake at the head of Duck Creek in the Portage River drainage, 24½ miles southeast of Crane Lake and 15 miles northwest of Ely. Roughly egg-shaped, Duck's 110 acres have a maximum depth of only 5' and a measured water clarity of 3½'. Duck Creek originates at the southeast end of the lake, beginning its nearly 5 mile run west and then north, to join the Portage River.

Along the lake's eastern shore, a 140 rod up-and-over portage heads east for the Portage River. After 30 fairly level rods, it quickly gains a low, 13' crest, before a long gentle descent to the river with no net change in elevation. Off the southwestern shore, a 480 rod (1½ mile), double-hump portage heads south and west for Big Moose. After 55 rods across open bog and fen, the trail climbs 54' over the second 55, dropping 66' in the next 128 rods to cross Duck Creek only to ascend some 75' over the next 160 (½ mile) to the high ground before a steep, final descent some 65' to the shores of Big Moose. Whew!

The forests to the south and east of Duck are barely a century old, dating back only to the fires of 1894. Those stands to the north and west of the lake are somewhat older, being of 1863-64 vintage. The Independence Day windstorms of 1999 did not materially affect this area of the BWCAW.


Duck supports no established campsites, not altogether surprising given its shallow waters and mucky margins..

Planning Considerations

Duck, sitting as it does between Big and Big Moose, provides the only connecting route between the cluster of lakes between Big Lake and Burntside and the remainder of this region, even if it is not a particularly easy link. Don't expect to see a lot of other travelers here.

Duck is included in Beymer, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vol. 1, The Western Region, routes 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 18, and 20.


This is moosey country, the entire shallow breadth of the lake being one big dinner plate. Watch for them if you're passing through.

Notes and Comments

Plan on filtering your water here. 'Nuff said.


Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004