Days
4
Motors Allowed?
Yes
Difficulty
Easy / Class A
Distance
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Snowbank Lake is one of the larger lakes in the BWCA. It has its benefits and its downsides. With a large lake, it's easy to escape the crowds on a busy day.  But the for a paddler, it can be a daunting task to reach the shores or next portage. Luckily there is a ten campsite options for people who want to wait the wind out. A Northwest wind of any kind is usually a no-go for cautious paddler. There are four portages out of Snowbank Lake, five if you count the small portage into the little grub lake for some day-tripping opportunites. Most paddlers choose to go to the eastern portages into Parent or Disappointment Lakes. These routes provide more camping opportunites and route options for people who choose to continue on farther. Many people who choose this entry will venture to the surrounding lakes like Thomas, Ima, Ensign, and Fraser Lakes. 

Snowbank provides a great starting point from a relatively close point to Ely. It's located just off the highway with minimal gravel roads. Snowbank lake is a motorized lake though. This means it does allow 25-hp motors on watercraft so the day traffic could be annoying to many people who want to get away from the noise. It is also a partially inhabited lake as it's not completely in the Wilderness Area.

The portages to and from Snowbank are relatively easy. The distances are tolerable for beginners and the elevation gains are minimal. Be sure to study a map of the lake before starting a route. It is very easy to be distracted by other paddlers and the similar terrain to take the wrong portage. This is a common occurence for people trying to get to Disappointment and they end up in Parent Lake. 

The Boundary Waters present endless route options. Unlike a lot of hiking routes or rivers, a route can be modified with each trip. Entering at Snowbank Lake Entry Point #27, a canoer has the option to go many different ways to create their own adventure. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Backcountry Permit

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Plenty of parking space. Good fishing. Large lake.

Cons

Large waves. Large crowds. Many boats.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Put-in location (lat, long coordinates)

47.971533, -91.432568

Take-out location (lat, long coordinates)

47.971533, -91.432568

Water Temperature

65.00 °F (18.33 °C)

Features

Vault toilet
Family friendly
Boat ramp(s)
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Fishing
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Trail type

There-and-back

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

Yes

Shuttle required

No

Site characteristics: Water

Lake

Portage required

Yes

Location

Nearby Adventures

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.