JAP Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage Northwest, 515 rods, to Seagull
  • Portage Northeast, to Jimmy
  • Portage South, 15 rods, to Glossy


  • Fisher F-12, Little Sag, Tuscarora, Temperance Lakes
  • McKenzie 7, Tuscarora


  • DNR Lake No. 160626
  • Lake Map No. C0283
  • Lake Table No. 8A
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality - N/A
Jap Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


JAP is a moderate size lake 4 miles south of Gunflint Trail's End and 44¾ miles ENE of Ely. Situated about a mile south and 225' above Seagull Lake, it's in the Seagull Creek watershed, draining to the north and east, out of the BWCAW and eventually into Seagull Lake. Its 146 acres are broken up by peninsulas and islands, its waters 60' deep. The forest that stretches from JAP's northwestern shore to Seagull is one of the older in the area, having not burned for nearly two centuries (since 1801). The forests which surround the lake on all other sides date from the big burn of 1864 although there are, in moist shaded places, remnant groves of older, truly massive White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis).

To the north, a little used 180 rod portage climbs 87' (most of the elevation gain in the first 58 rods) to isolated Jimmy Lake. There is no good canoe route beyond Jimmy, making this a good spot to leave the boats at the landing and lighten the load for the hike in. To the south of JAP, a 15 rod portage climbs 50' into Glossy, providing access south to the Chub River. But when canoists and outfitters speak of the "JAP Lake portage" it is neither of these that they have in mind. THE JAP portage is 515 rods of rocky trail, climbing steeply above the northern shore before beginning a long, twisting 225' elevation drop to the south shore of Seagull. At 320 rods to the mile, it's something over a 1½ mile carry; about an hour and a half of pack mule work, including an amusing creek crossing, on the rocks and in the water, with steep banks on either side. Seagull has never looked so good as from the north end of the JAP Lake portage.


JAP has two established campsites, one in the northwest corner near the Seagull Lake portage and the other on the western end of the large island. The island site is superb; elevated and with a good view. Though near the portage, there is little likelihood of the other site being too badly disturbed by heavy traffic.

Planning Considerations

JAP sits astride what is the only route to connect Seagull with the lakes to its south. All other Seagull routes point north and west. Were it not for this geographic circumstance, the JAP Lake portage would probably not exist. Beyond its convenient location, JAP and the lakes to the south which link it to the Chub River have an intrinsic appeal all their own. This rugged beauty ought not to be overlooked in a rush to get through the little lakes with the silly names on the way to or from JAP.


JAP is a Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) lake. Though often stocked with Rainbow Trout, these do not appear to have taken hold and seem to have died out.

Notes and Comments

Carrying the JAP portage is something of a badge of honor, or at least a claim to bragging rights, but it's really not that tough. It's just a little longer than most. It shouldn't dissuade anyone from visiting this lovely corner of the BWCA.

JAP is named after longtime local residents James & Ann Paulson and so is an acronym, rather than any kind of reference to the Land of the Rising Sun. (Our thanks to Stanislav Fritz and Michael J. Elling for bringing this to our attention and correcting a common misunderstanding).

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004