DescriptionSouth Wilder is a small, relatively deep lake on Wilder Creek in the Kawishiwi River watershed, 21 miles ESE of Ely, and 5 miles NNW of Forest Center. Nearly a mile from end to end, its 61 acres are marked by several small islands. The surrounding hills rise steeply from all sides of the lake and the lake bottom falls off just as steeply. Most of the lake is more than 15' deep and at its greatest depth it reaches 36'. In the southwest corner of the lake is the mouth of Pioneer Creek, which drains Pioneer Lake, a mile upstream to the south. In the west end of South Wilder is the beginning of Wilder Creek, which flows down to North Wilder, about a mile to the north. The Pow Wow Hiking Trail runs up along the west bank of the creek from North Wilder for about 190 rods, where it crosses the stream and continues eastward just off South Wilder's northern shore.
The forests surrounding South Wilder are relatively young, having come in only in the aftermath of the fires of 1910. The big 4th of July blowdowns of 1999 took down trees all around the Wilders, with damages for the area surrounding South Wilder estimated at between 10% to 33% loss of standing timber.
CampsitesSouth Wilder supports two established campsites, both on the south shore near the west end of the lake. Recent Fisher and McKenzie maps show a third site, opposite the mouth of Pioneer Creek, probably intended for use by backpackers on the Pow Wow Hiking Trail, which runs along the north side of the lake.
Planning ConsiderationsDepending upon the map you are using, there are a couple of different methods for traveling between North and South Wilder. Some Fisher show no portages at all, only the Pow Wow Hiking Trail. McKenzie shows the Pow Wow but adds a 15 rod portage at the head of Wilder Creek. The Forest Service, as on the map above, shows a 190 rod portage out of North Wilder which follows the path of the Pow Wow, dropping back to the creek below South Wilder and below the 15 rod portage of McKenzie. So, if water levels are high, one might, with luck be able to paddle the entire distance, otherwise a 190 rod carry making use of the Pow Wow along the creek will be required. Where the hiking trail crosses the creek, the portage trail should continue another 15 rods to reach navigable waters.
However it is reached, South Wilder is just off the North Wilder Loop which runs from the Number Lakes Three and Four on the Kawishiwi, east and north, through Horseshoe, Brewis, Harbor, and North Wilder, to return to the Kawishiwi just above Lake Four. It is also connected, by way of the Pow Wow Hiking Trail, to Pose and the Isabella River country. The lake would serve admirably as a base camp for exploring Pose and beyond (on foot) and Pioneer (by canoe and almost certainly wet feet). Or perhaps a day hike to rarely visited lakes like Briddle, Hump, Hush, and Repast, all within a mile of South Wilder. (A mid-day repast at Repast?).
WildlifeSouth Wilder supports populations of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), and White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni).
Notes and CommentsWe've not yet visited South Wilder, though had we the time on our way through North Wilder a few years back (and were it not dumping down rain at the time) we would have given it a try. It still remains near the top of our list of lakes we must see.