Hustler Lake

Making Connections

  • Bushwhack North, 200 rods, to Posse
  • Bushwhack Northeast, 90 rods, to Weeny
  • Portage East, 240 rods, to Oyster
  • Portage South, 48 rods, to Emerald
  • Portage West, 10 rods, to Ruby


  • Fisher F-16, Loon, Lac La Croix, Nina Moose Lakes
  • McKenzie 12, Moose River


Hustler Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Hustler is a moderate-sized lake in the Hustler River watershed of the Lac La Croix basin, situated 15 miles ESE of Crane Lake and 27 miles northwest of Ely. Three armed in form, Hustler stretches over 1¼ miles along its east/west axis and nearly 2 miles from north to south, though relatively narrow throughout and covering only 272 acres. Its greatest depth is 60' in the central bay. The long northern arm of Hustler ends in the head of the Hustler River, which flows north for 3¾ miles before emptying into Finger Lake. At the end of the shallow eastern arm, a 240 rod portage leads to Oyster, gaining 65' of elevation in the first 74 rods before beginning a slow descent into Oyster, punctuated by a final quick hill climb. Near the end of the southern arm, a 48 rod portage connects with Emerald.

The forests which ring Hustler are of various age classes, for reasons both natural and unnatural. Most of the forest around the lake has grown up since the fires of 1894, with 1864 vintage woods along the west side of the south arm and some 17th and 18th century stands to the north of the Ruby portage. A more recent development was the work, in 1915-1917, of the Virginia and Rainy Lake Lumber Company, which logged off much of the area along the northeastern shore, as well as a large area south of the Ruby portage and Ruby Lake. This region of the BWCA did escape damage in the 4th of July windstorms of 1999, which caused such extensive tree loss to the south and east.


Hustler supports six established campsites, well distributed among its three arms and central bay. The four in the east arm and central bay are on the primary route through the lake, while those in the north and south arms offer greater promise of solitude.

Planning Considerations

Hustler is a link in the east/west Pauness/Boulder Bay route, which heads north and east out of Upper and Lower Pauness on the Little Indian Sioux River through Shell, Little Shell, Lynx, Ruby, Hustler, Oyster, and Lake Agnes, to Boulder Bay on Lac La Croix. It also provides access to Emerald to the south and the Hustler River country to the north. Many opportunities for bushwhacking and crosscountry hiking begin from Hustler, including Posse and the Hustler River afloat, and Hag, Rangeline, Warpaint, and Weeny afoot.

Hustler is included in Beymer, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vol. 1, The Western Region, routes 3, 13, 15, 16, and 17.


Hustler supports populations of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Tullibee (Cisco) (Coregonus artedi), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens). Hustler is also one of only two locations in Minnesota where Lepomis megalotis, the Longeared Sunfish, has been found.

We also came upon a nesting pair of Black Backed Woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus) making use of an old snag just off the north arm of the lake on our 1999 visit.

Notes and Comments

Hustler offers the passing canoeist an opportunity to hike a portion of the Sioux Hustler Trail, which crosses the Oyster portage just beyond the east end of the lake and heads to the northwest, passing behind the campsite on the east side of the north arm (Take the trail up to the latrine, then just keep going), crossing the Hustler River at the end of the northern arm. The trail then proceeds northwest to Rangeline, passing near the backpacking site at the north end. The walk to Rangeline makes for a good afternoon hike, though the trail is only lightly maintained at this time (1999). There are rock cairns to mark the way, but also a large number of windfalls to block and hide the path. If you've the time, however, it is definitely worth the effort.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004