Winding waterways, beaver dams, tight turns, and a chance to see a moose. This is just a small portion of what Hog Creek has to offer. Some use Hog Creek as an entry or exit for a route through the BWCA, we used it as a way to get to our destination of Perent Lake.
“Water, water, water…” This is what we heard for a good 15 minutes as we paddled our way through Hog Creek. Our little man was on his second trip to the BWCA. Our first trip catered to being as simple as possible, now we were tackling something a little more complicated. Hog Creek did not disappoint.
For Entry Point 36, use the Tofte Ranger Station. It is located on Route 61 in Tofte, on your left hand side as you travel north. It’s a small building with, at the moment, only the entryway open. Hopefully the full building will be open soon. There are a number of neat souvenirs, books, and animal displays to see inside.
You’ll watch the video and take your short questionnaire prior to receiving your permit. Keep this permit on you as you travel through the BWCA. It’s a pretty quick process, maybe 10-15 minutes.
|Tofte Ranger Station Info:|
|Address:||7355 MN-61 Tofte, MN 55615|
May 1st- Sept. 30: 7 days a week
Oct 1st- April 30th: Closed Weekends & Holidays
Entry Point Details
|Entry Point #||36|
|Permits Issued Daily||5|
|Permit Type||Overnight Paddle|
|Ranger Station||Tofte district|
Getting to the Entry Point
From the Tofte Ranger Station, you’ll head northwest on Hwy 61 for 1 mile, take a left onto the Sawbill Trail (Cty Rd 2). Follow Cty Rd 2 for 17 miles. You’ll take a slight left onto Perent Lake road (Cty Rd 3). If you miss this slight left, you’ll have the opportunity to turn left shortly after this, it’s a bizarre set up. After 10 miles (turns into Hwy 7 after 8 miles), you’ll take a right onto Kawishiwi Lake Rd (Forest Rte 354). The Hog Creek parking area will be on the Left after about 2 miles. There are signs all along the way, just follow the ones for Hog Creek.
You’ll have paved roads for quite a ways before you reach the dirt roads. They were in good condition when we visited in June of 2021, but we’ve experienced some pretty nasty road conditions after heavy rainfalls. Be prepared for some holes and drive slow. One of the neat things about the drive to this entry point is that you will pass over Hog Creek before you reach your destination. It looks very narrow, but the section to be paddled is wider than the parts upstream.
Food Note: Coho Bakery and Café is just past the turn to Sawbill in Tofte, right on Hwy 61. It’s a great stop for breakfast and a coffee before you venture into the wilderness. They had lingonberry french toast, it was amazing!!
The parking area will be on your left. The grassy parking area is quite small for how many permits are issued per day. Our strategy was to unload the vehicle at the portage trail head and then repark the truck. This worked well, we had to park along the road. Getting there early is a good idea. There were a couple of trucks parked next to their trailers in the parking area, there were several others parked along the road and entry to the lot.
There are two portages on the way to Perent Lake. The first being a short portage from the Parking area to the Hog Creek and the second going around some rapids along the creek.
First Portage: This first portage is very short. It’s only 15 rods from the parking area to the creeks edge. It’s a downhill slope with logs placed to make an elongated set of stairs along with some stones acting as steps as well. At the bottom is a little bank that is perfect for placing a canoe and getting organized. Be careful, the stone “steps” can be quite slippery. It was raining on us on our way in and out.
Second Portage: It is a short distance downstream to the next portage. This is also a 15 rod portage. There is no good landing point at this portage. Given that it’s purpose is to go around the little rapids, you can expect rocks and some rough terrain. There are two paths to take on this portage, both are very rocky. I recommend taking a load of gear before tackling it while carrying your canoe. Be sure to stop and admire the rapids, it’s nothing huge, but is quite beautiful.
This was the most congested portage that I have ever encountered in my time in the BWCA. There were 4 different groups attempting to use this portage. Two beginning their adventure and two ending it. There was one group leaving with 10 people(max is 9) and 4 dogs. I couldn’t believe it! The group entering the BWCA alongside us, was a pair of Rangers. They were checking permits and managed the congestion situation.
Hog creek is a winding and somewhat narrow creek that is 15 miles long. The distance from the Entry Point to mouth of Perent Lake is only 3 miles. You can breath a sigh of relief here. About a mile down the creek you will encounter a beaver dam. You will need to get out and guide your canoe down, it’s steep. Be wary of the depth on either side. It seems like it’s shallow right next to the dam, but then drops off dramatically.
Going downstream is quite simple, follow the current and it will lead you to Perent lake. There is one point that we double checked the map for, Walter Creek. Stay west when you approach this portion of the creek. One thing that helped reassure us that we were on the right track was to follow the trail of maintenance. There are several trees that have fallen over the creek. The forest service has sawed them off to allow explorers of the wilderness to venture on.
Keep an eye out for wildlife, this is a quiet creek and you may just spy a critter going about their day. One of the groups that we passed mentioned they spotted a moose along the creek on their way out. We saw beaver tracks along the edge of the creek but weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these aquatic marvels.
Most of the creek is just wide enough to fit one canoe’s width, maybe two canoes in some places. There are so many sharp turns, using a rudder style of steering worked best to maneuver these tight spaces. Rivers and creeks are my favorite places to paddle, there is so much more to see and never a dull moment.
Finding a Campsite
The odds of landing a campsite on Perent Lake seem high with the number of campsites being 19. But if you check out your map, the next closest possibility being 7 to 8 portages away on Pompous, Boga, or Isabella Lake. Fortunately, Hog Creek is not one of the most popular entry points. And like all BWCA lakes, it’s first come, first serve. No campsite reservations.
There are a variety of different campsites to choose from, given that they are available. Our preferred campsite is on an island, having an island to yourself is an amazingly relaxing experience. Throw a hammock up; paradise.
Perent Lake Campsite Types
We ended up at the island on the north side of the lake. At first we weren’t sure if it was a campsite because the camp area is up in the middle of the narrow island. There are two clearings available for tent set up with the fire grate in a larger clearing in the middle. The latrine is not as far as usual from camp, I found that convenient. The view from the westside of the island were amazing and it offered great opportunity for the kids to climb and explore among the rock and driftwood riddle shoreline. This island site has become one of my favorite campsites to date.
An exiting group mentioned some killer walleye fishing. Unfortunately, we entered on a cold front and were not able to experience this fishing frenzy. But even in poor conditions, we did not go back to camp empty handed. We ate well on our fish dinner night and had fun catching and releasing as well.
I only caught one fish, but I was only out for about half an hour to fish. We had little ones along on this trip, I spent most of my time exploring with them. My dad, Drew, and husband, Scott, had a good time out on the water. There are fishing spots marked on bwca.com, this is a very useful website that I like to utilize when planning my excursions.
Side note: Remember to take photos of your catch before you start to fillet your dinner. You’ll end up with some goofy pictures like we did.
The Boundary Waters has a plethora of critters to encounter. My favorites that I see nearly every venture out are the common loon, eagle, and the squirrels. The eagle made himself known just after we entered Perent Lake. We were almost near the end of our trip before we heard the loon call. I was beginning to think that we were going to have a BWCA experience without one! There are squirrels all over the place. They are the most curious creatures! I love when they come into camp and check things out. Don’t feed them, they need to rely on themselves. They do go right for the food pack though, so keep that closed.
I’m not going to say that turtles are the stealthiest animal out there, but Scott if didn’t have such amazing eyesight, our one-year-old son, Killian, wouldn’t have all of his fingers right now. Killian was dipping his chubby little fingers in at the waters edge when Scott spotted a huge snapping turtle coming right up for those fingers. It didn’t stop after Scott snatched Killian out of the way, it was mere inches away. Had anyone else been with him instead of Scott, this story would have a different end. My husband has the best eyesight out of all of us, by a lot. That snapping turtle hung around for quite some time. The freaky thing is; we had just been swimming in that area a couple hours earlier.
Moose are by far the coolest animal to encounter up there. We did not happen upon any moose while on Perent Lake or along Hog Creek. Another group that I mentioned earlier did encounter one on their way out along Hog Creek. And we were lucky enough to witness a moose eating in the same location that we spotted one on our last trip. It is along the Sawbill Trail on the east side of the road, just south of the last pass over Plouff Creek. There is a small marshy pond that the moose were standing in both years. Killian was pretty jazzed, moose were his favorite animal at that time.
There is no greater peace than sitting at the edge of the water, listening to the gentle lap of the waves. With a loons call in the distance, the a breeze bringing in the fresh scent of pine, you can truly breath. Find time while you are out in this great wilderness to slow down and reset. An excursion in this environment can bring grand adventure and refreshing peace all in one. Savor it.
Being that creeks and rivers are my favorite waters to paddle in, I would most certainly make this trip again. Perent Lake is a great destination lake that has potential for tremendous walleye fishing. Our timing wasn’t ideal, weather wise. Had we been able to spend more time on this lake, I believe the fishing spots would have come to light. If you’re planning a trip in the BWCA for a destination lake with walleye, this one should be in the running. Though it is a more populated lake with a higher number of campsites, we had very little interaction with fellow campers. Happy Camping!!