BWCA water levels

When we were in the BWCA (two weeks ago) I was interested in teh apparent low water levels. It appears that there is an ice “scour” line on the shoreline rocks, and that the water level was at least 16-18" below that line.

Are the lakes at unusually low levels? I know it is really dry…


Low water
Well the fire ban is still in place. I know in Northern Wisconsin my father-in-law’s lake is 2 feet low. The water levels have been bad for a long time. The northern drought has been going on for some time.

just about normal now
that we have gotten some rain. But later this summer it suppose to be dry.

Just talked to a friend today
with a place on Gunflint Lake.He drove up during the fire (the Ham Lake fire I think it was called). He said that Gunflint is about 2 1/2’ down. He showed me a bunch of photos, devastation. Quite a few of his friends lost their cabins. I am going to try and get up there in August. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been in the BWCA. Thats too long.

Water is up again
but that is for now anyway.

We have had lots of rain the last couple weeks & water levels are pretty good.

If we don’t have a dry summer, then we should be in a lot better shape this fall.

Glad to hear that.
I may have to drive to Minneapolis for a conference in September - A jaunt to the BWCA might be in order if there is water.


Frank and I have talked about maybe doing the Sawbill trip in September that got changed because of the fire.


If I am in Minneapolis it would be September 10-14.


Our dates are flexible.
I would think we might like to go up the week before that.


still low
Just back from 12 days in Quetico - lots of rain.

The big lakes are still 2 1/2 to 3 feet low - it would take months of rain to get them back up to normal levels. Mid-size lakes are maybe 1 to 1/2 foot low. Smaller lakes and streams between them were at normal levels. Just like rivers, the smaller ones go up and down fast, the big ones change slowly.

Batchewaung lake, a big to mid-sized lake was about 2 feet low. The little “rapid” drainage between Batch and Pickeral lake is normally about 30 feet wide, and you just drift with the current watching for rocks under the surface. This year, the channel was just barely wider than the 29" of my gunnels - I actually reached down on both sides to grab rocks with my hands and steer the canoe thru on the way in; on the return trip, the water was up maybe 3 or 4 inches (after about 3 weeks of steady rain) and I was just able to paddle my way up thru there - it was maybe 36 to 40" wide then. Portage landings are harder to find and land at, usually in a lot of now exposed slippery rocks, though a few of them are easier with the low water.

I doubt that the BWCA side is much different.

Or maybe the week after

Low water levels.
My Brother works for the Army Corps of Engineers. They are concerned that winters have been warmer and lakes like Superior no longer freezes over. There is a loss of water due to winter wind evaporation. Do the BW lakes freeze later and thaw earier? Ice out (when the last ice cover melts) in Wisconsin seems to have gotten earlier over the 25 years I have lived here. Is this happening in the BW?

of course it is
Its on the same planet you know. I talked to a Canadian fellow the day after Labor Day, and he was telling me that Lake Superior was something like 6 feet low. He lives on the North shore, and now has a lot more “beachfront”, but maybe another 30 yards to walk to get to the water. Lowest level since sometime in the early twenties, he said. I normally do a Canadian trip

right around the same time each year, tag end of May and first week or so of June - Last year, the Missinaibi trip was just plain HOT. This year, it was not quite so hot in Quetico, but it was T-shirt weather, except for all the rain and skeeters that is.