Lake One

Making Connections

  • Portage North, 45 rods, to North Kawishiwi River
  • Paddle South, to Lake Two
  • Portage Southeast, 30 rods, to pond, 40 rods to Lake Two


  • Fisher F-4, One, Two, Three, Four, Bald Eagle, Insula Lakes, F-10, Basswood, Fall, Moose Lakes
  • McKenzie 18, Lake One


Lake One
Scale 142840
Full image approximately 4 miles square


Lake One is a large and very popular lake on the Kawishiwi River, 15 miles ENE of Ely, and 11 miles northwest of Forest Center. Located at the edge of the BWCAW, just off the Fernberg Road (St. Louis County Road 18), Lake One serves as BWCAW Entry Point 30, long one of the most popular entries. A sprawling lake of islands, bays, and 28 miles of shoreline, One covers 876 acres with a maximum depth of 57'. Most of the lake bottom is in the highly productive littoral zone, less than 15' below the surface.

The Kawishiwi River enters the southeast corner of One, passing over a series of rapids from Lake Two. The river exits One through a narrow channel at the far north end as well as another, dammed channel, along the northern shore. A 45 rod up-and-over portage with a 6' crest bypasses the dam on the west side. In the northeastern end of One is the mouth of Climax Creek, down 1¼ miles from little Climax Lake. In the southwestern end is the mouth of Pagami Creek, down from Pagami Lake, 2 miles upstream in the Weasel Lake Primitive Management Area.

Most of the area around Lake One is second growth forest, having grown up in the aftermath of the early logging of the St. Croix Lumber Company of Winton (1896 - 1920). Prior to logging, the area probably supported numerous stands of big Red and White Pines, dating back to 1796 and earlier. Only the area to the southwest of One was not logged, probably because it burned in 1894 and was not sufficiently mature to be of much interest to the lumber company. The big Independence Day windstorms of 1999 missed Lake One, the broad swath of greatest destruction lying well to the north.


Lake One supports 11 established campsites, most along the northern edge of the southern bay. Popular with campers, these sites are also popular with bruins. Hang 'em high.

Planning Considerations

Lake One has long been the second most popular entry point in the BWCAW, after Moose Lake. (The Lake One permits go early so if this is your entry point of choice, do reserve early.) Lake One provides access to several routes, including the North Kawishiwi River to the west, the Clearwater routes south to Bald Eagle (through Lake Two), and ever popular Number Lakes route east to Insula. Lake One also provides a tempting opportunity to bushwhack up Pagami Creek, perhaps as far as Pagami Lake, or even up to its source, at Clearwater.


Lake One supports populations of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Burbot (Lota lota), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Tullibee (Cisco) (Coregonus artedi), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).

Notes and Comments

Indicative of the popularity of Lake One was our experience on entering through Lake One a couple of years ago. One of the nephews decided that he would count the canoes we met and he started counting out loud as we paddled down One. He quit after hitting 60. We were still on the Number Lakes.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004