Little Trout Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage Northwest, 141 rods, to the North Arm of Trout
  • Portage Northeast, 220 rods, to Gowan
  • Portage East, 376 rods, to the Little Indian Sioux
  • Paddle South, into Trout


  • Fisher F-8, Vermilion, Trout Lake, Vermilion River, Bootleg Lake
  • McKenzie No. 15, Trout Lake


Little Trout  Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Little Trout is a larger lake in the Trout Lake basin of the Vermilion drainage, 20½ miles SSE of Crane Lake and 21½ miles WNW of Ely. Over 1½ miles long and up to ¾ mile across, its 538 acres have a maximum depth of 37', and a measured water clarity of 9', with only 178 acres in the littoral zone (less than 15' deep). To the south, it drains into big Trout Lake. Along its northern shore is the mouth of Gowan Creek, down from Gowan Lake, and three portage landings. The portage to the west of Gowan Creek is a 141 rod, up-and-over to the northwest, into the North Arm of Trout. It climbs gradually to an elevation some 40' above the lakeshore, then drops down the other side with no overall change in elevation. The portage just to the east of Gowan Creek follows the eastern bank of the stream 220 rods up to Gowan Lake. The trail climbs some 30' in the first 60 rods to get above the boggy creek bottoms, then drops back to cross a boggy section before cresting a low rise to the lakeshore, in the end only 3' above the landing on Little Trout. The third northern portage, out of the northeast corner, heads for the banks of the Little Indian Sioux over a mile to the east. It gains some 40' of elevation in the first 60 rods, crossing the drainage divide between the Trout basin and the watershed of the Little Indian Sioux. The remainder of the long trail tends downhill, dropping 70' to the mucky margins of the little river.

The forest surrounding Little Trout did sustain some significant damage in the 4th of July windstorms of 1999, particularly to east, south, and southwest, where the loss of standing trees is estimated at 34% to 66%. The Little Indian Sioux portage crosses some of this more heavily damaged sector.


Little Trout supports four established campsites, two along the southeastern shore, one to the northwest, and one on the island.

Planning Considerations

Little Trout forms the northern connection between Trout Lake and the Little Indian Sioux. It also provides the only access to Gowan.

Little Trout is included in Beymer, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vol. 1, The Western Region, routes 2, 3, and 12.


Little Trout supports populations of Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Tullibee (Cisco) (Coregonus artedi), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).

Notes and Comments

Little Trout is "little" only by comparison to its sprawling neighbor. With more than 500 acres, Little Trout is a relatively large lake for the BWCA.


Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004