Boundary Waters route through Stairway Portage

Duncan Rose

Duncan Rose

BWCAW Entry Point  60 Duncan(3 entry permits)
Minimum Trip Length 3 Days


BWCA Maps Needed:
  • Fisher Maps: F-13
  • McKenzie Maps: 2
  • Voyageur Maps: 9

Fast Facts:
Lake DNR # Fish Species Maximum Depth Acres Elevation Campsites
Bearskin 16022800 Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike 78 493 1678 1
Duncan 16023200 Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass 130 481 1658 7
Rose 16023000 Walleye, Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass 90 1315 1678 7


Portages:
Portages out of Bearskin Portages out of Duncan   Portages out of Rose
-North 60 rods to Daniels
-South 21 rods to Hungry Jack
-West 75 rods to Duncan
-South 53 rods to Moss
-SW 230 rods to Partridge
-SE 81 rods to Bearskin
-NE 78 rods to Rose
  South 80 rods to Duncan
-SE 337 rods to fork, 87 rods to Daniels or 291 rods to Rove
-West 4 rods to Rat
 
Route Description:
The entry point for Ducan Lake is accessed via West Bearskin Lake. There's a nice parking area and a short trail down to the waterfront where you'll launch your canoe.  It's a very short paddle across the west end of West Bearskin Lake over to the 75 rod portage into Duncan Lake.  The portage is is relatively flat and dry and is intersected by the Caribou Rock HIking Trail. 

Duncan Lake has several campsites to choose from but they are very popular due to the easy access.  You may not have a choice of campsites and in my opinion one of the nicer ones is not very private. Then again, if you're looking for privacy and solitude camping on Duncan may not be the best choice.

The Stairway Portage is an 80-rod portage into Rose Lake and there's a popular waterfall along the trail. Due to the proximity to a number of mid-trail resorts and outfitters this route is a very popular day trip. The BWCA does not regulate the number of groups entering for day trips so there can be quite a bit of traffic. 

The waterfalls are pretty and it's fun to cool off beneath them and relax in the pool.  The portage has stairs as one would assume due to the name.  The Border Route hiking trail intersects the portage and leads to some awesome views of Rose Lake. There's nice elevation on top of the cliffs so you can see most of the lake from on top of them. It's worth taking the time to veer off of the trail and explore, just don't forget your camera. 

There are a number of campsites on Rose Lake to choose from. There is a beautiful site right out from the portage but with day trip traffic it might not be the quietest.  There's a campsite to the west of the portage as well but any groups paddling by you would see.  There are a number of campsites on the south side of the lake.  The sites are all protected by pine trees and somewhat hidden.  Since the lake is half in Canada and half in the US you'll need to camp and fish on the south side of the lake. 

If you're a hiker then consider camping at the most eastern site.  It has direct access to the hiking trail and you can do a number of awesome day hikes including hiking back to Stairway Portage.  Rose is a beautiful lake that offers good fishing and is easy to get to in a short amount of time.

A Short Story:
 
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