Pickerel Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage North, 170 rods, to Kemptons
  • Portage South, 120 rods, into the North Kawishiwi River



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


Pickerel is a shallow, mid-sized lake, entirely outside of, but abutting upon, the BWCAW, 18¼ miles WNW of Forest Center, and 7½ miles ENE of Ely. Situated in the North Kawishiwi River drainage and just over a mile in length, its 184 acres reach a maximum depth of only 13'. Out of the lake's southeast corner, Pickerel Creek runs south less than ½ mile to the North Kawishiwi, picking up the waters of Greenstone Creek on the way. The creek is not generally navigable and so access to Pickerel from the river is generally obtained by way of a 120 rod portage out of the southwest corner of the lake. Out of the north end, a boggy, 170 rod portage leads to Kemptons.

The forests surrounding Pickerel are largely second growth, having had their origins in the aftermath of the early logging of the region in the early years of this century. The Independence Day windstorms of 1999 did no significant damage in the Pickerel area.


Pickerel supports two established campsites, both on points, one each on the northern and the southern shores.

Planning Considerations

Pickerel is entirely outside of the BWCAW proper, but is accessible only from within the wilderness area. The 170 rod portage to Kemptons is essentially a deadend rather than a connection to the motorized world along the Fernberg Road. Surrounded by acres of trackless bog, its only good access is through Pickerel. This all combines to make Pickerel worthy of consideration as a side trip off the North Kawishiwi route, whether as an overnight stopover, or as a base for exploring Kemptons and bushwhacking Pickerel and Greenstone Creeks. The latter is especially appealing.


Pickerel supports populations of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), and White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni). The boggy lands to the north are probably good moose country.

Notes and Comments

Pickerel, and neighboring Kemptons, are wild lakes outside the wilderness. My suspicion is that they are not included in the BWCAW because the area around them was so heavily logged over.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004