Little Shell Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage East, 4 rods, to Lynx
  • Portage Southwest, 15 rods, to Shell


  • Fisher F-16, Loon, Lac La Croix, Nina Moose Lakes
  • McKenzie 12, Moose River; 14, Loon, Wilkins Bay


  • DNR Lake No. 690384
  • Lake Map No. N/A
  • Lake Table No. 2A
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality - N/A
Little Shell Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Little Shell is a small, though relatively deep, lake in the Loon River drainage, 13¾ miles ESE of Crane Lake and 27 miles northwest of Ely. Not more than ½ mile across, it still attains a depth of over 40'. Out of the northeastern corner a short channel connects with much larger Lynx. A 4 rod portage is available along the north side of the channel for those times when low water levels make the channel impassible. Out of the southwest end, a 15 rod carry climbs the 5' to the shores of big Shell.

The forests which ring Little Shell Lake are over 140 years old, dating back to the big burn of 1864. The peninsula between Shell and Little Shell was logged in 1915-1917 by the Virginia and Rainy Lake Lumber Company, presumably for its Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) and White Pine (Pinus strobus). This region of the BWCA escaped damage in the 4th of July windstorms of 1999, which caused such extensive tree loss to the south and east.


Little Shell supports one established campsite, on the western shore of the point in the northeast end of the lake.

Planning Considerations

Little Shell Lake 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. Tucked in between the much larger Shell and Lynx., Little Shell is for most just a passing through lake, though the single campsite does allow the party using it the benefit of being the only people on a small wilderness lake, if only for the evening.

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


Little Shell supports populations of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Tullibee (Cisco) (Coregonus artedi), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).

Notes and Comments

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004