Otto Lakes

Making Connections

    Portage North, 52 rods to Henson


  • Fisher F-13, No. Gunflint Trail, Gunflint, Bearskin Lakes
  • McKenzie 4, Gunflint Lake


  • DNR Lake No.160xxx
  • Lake Map No. N/A
  • Lake Table No. 10C
Otto Lakes
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Otto Lakes are a cluster of three small lakes on the high ground between the long east/west lines of Winchell in the south and Henson in the north. The only established link is the 52 rod portage north to Henson, one of the roughest, most rollercoaster like, of the shorter portages in the BWCA.


Otto Lakes have two campsites, both on the western lake. That on the southern shore sits on a rocky rise with a great view and would be considered a fine site on any lake. The other site, at the northwest end is more spectacular, set in a great grove of old pines, with an open, needle strewn floor.

Planning Considerations

There are several east/west routes through this eastern end of the BWCA, following the topography of its long, narrow lakes. Otto sits just off one of these, from Horseshoe in the east to Long Island in the west. Its east end serves as a short link in one of the few north/south routes through this region, from Meeds in the north south to Gaskin and Winchell. Neither of these is a preferred route for most travelers, however, which makes the Henson route especially appealing. The heavy traffic tends to stay farther to the south, the highway running from Horseshoe through Gaskin to Winchell and beyond to Brule.


The burn area which extends up to the eastern shore of the western Otto should present an excellent opportunity in the coming years to view the impact of fire on the north woods and the recovery of the natural ecosystem. Look for the recovery of the fire adapted herbs and shrubs, like the blueberries, and the wildlife which they attract. The fire killed timber also attracts insects which, in turn, attract the woodpeckers, including the relatively rare Northern and Black Back Three Toed Woodpeckers.

Notes and Comments

While the route through Henson is generally less popular than the alternative to the south, the short but rugged portage up to Otto is a big step in the direction of even greater solitude.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004