Lower Pauness Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage North, 160 rods, to the Little Indian Sioux
  • Portage East, 216 rods, to Shell
  • Portage West, 8 rods, to Upper Pauness
  • Portage Southwest, 40 rods, to Upper Pauness


  • Fisher F-15, Crane, Echo Lakes, Loon River, West Echo Trail; F-16, Loon, Lac La Croix, Nina Moose Lakes
  • McKenzie 12, Moose River; 14, Loon, Wilkins Bay


  • DNR Lake No. 690465
  • Lake Map No. N/A
  • Lake Table No. 2B
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality
Lower Pauness Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Lower Pauness is is a moderate sized lake on the Little Indian Sioux River, 12 miles ESE of Crane Lake and 27½ miles northwest of Ely. Roughly bilobe in form, the triangular central bay, about a half mile to a side, is connected with the incoming river by a narrow, mile-long southeastern arm. The north end of the arm is relatively shallow with extensive beds of floating and emergent vegetation. Its eastern shore has the west end of the 216 rod carry into Shell, a long, but relatively easy portage, though its packed clay trails can be muddy after a rain and both landings are mucky and can be troublesome. The southern end is more open, ending in a narrow channel connecting with Upper Pauness, bypassed at its end by an 8 rod, up-and-over portage. The Little Indian Sioux exits at the northern apex of the central bay, bound for the Devil's Cascade and Loon Lake. (Bypassed by a steep 160 rod carry, the Devil's Cascade is a popular destination in its own right and well worth a stop). The southwestern point of the bay holds a 40 rod portage into Upper Pauness.


Lower Pauness supports four established campsites, three on the central bay and one in the southeastern arm. The site on the point is exquisite, elevated well above the lake on a steep rock face. Tent sites are numerous and the exposure allows for plenty of breezes to keep the bugs at bay, (though it can seem a bit much on a very windy day.) The other two sites on the central bay look good, as does that in the southeastern arm though, fairly low and adjacent to weedy shallows, the latter may present more biting insect problems.

Planning Considerations

Lower Pauness is a link in the east/west Pauness/Boulder Bay route, which heads north and east out of Upper and Lower Pauness through Shell, Little Shell, Lynx, Ruby, Hustler, Oyster, and Lake Agnes, to Boulder Bay on Lac La Croix. It is also, along with its twin, the first camping opportunity for visitors traveling down the Little Indian Sioux from BWCAW Entry Point #14 on the Echo Trail. Either makes a suitable location for a first night or last night of a trip where an afternoon put in or morning departure are called for.

Lower Pauness is included in Beymer, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vol. 1, The Western Region, routes 3, 5, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 27.


The weedy shallows between the central bay and the southeastern arm are good moose habitat and numerous trails down to the water are visible. A large beaver lodge sits just off the northeastern end of the point.

Notes and Comments

Both ends of the southeastern arm have extensive beds of Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) which, when in bloom, must cover the area with a lavender haze.

Does anyone else see a meteor impact crater, or perhaps a soggy crop circle, in the lowlands between the northern ends of the two Pauness lakes?

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004