Big Moose Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage Northeast, 480 rods, to Duck
  • Portage South, 580 rods, to Cummings
  • Portage Northwest, 60 rods, down the Moose River


  • Fisher F-9, Cummings, Big Moose, Fourtown Lakes
  • McKenzie No. 16, Burntside Lake


Big Moose Lake
Scale 1:42840
Full image approximately 4 miles square


Big Moose is a very large, relatively shallow lake at the head of the Moose River, 23½ miles southeast of Crane Lake and 14½ miles northwest of Ely. Nearly 2½ miles from north
to south and as much as a mile across, its 1032 acres have a maximum depth of but 23', with virtually all of the lake bottom in the shallow littoral zone (less than 15' deep).

Off the lake's eastern shore, a 480 rod (1½ mile), double-hump portage heads north and east for Duck. Gaining 65' in the first 80 rods, the trail then drops 75' to make the crossing of Duck Creek, followed by another 65' gain to the second crest, then a 54' drop to the boggy ground for the final 55 rod carry to open water. Out of the south end of Big Moose, a 580 rod (over 1¾ mile) portage climbs over 100' in the initial 125 rods, then continues south along the higher ground in an otherwise boggy area into the northeast bay of Cummings. On of the northwestern side of the lake, a 60 rod portage bypasses the headwaters of the Moose River to reach more navigable waters downstream.

The forests which ring Big Moose are of multiple age classes, as one might expect with so large a lake, in a region so often burned. The forest off the northeastern shore is the oldest, dating back nearly 250 years to the fire of 1755. The other shores of Big Moose burned again during the Civil War (1863-64 fire years), with most of the western side burning again in 1910 as most of the eastern side had burned in 1894. Isolated stands of 18th Century origin remain scattered about in these more recent burn areas, largely in pockets by the lake shore. Can you pick them out?

The Independence Day windstorms of 1999 did not significantly affect the immediate area around Big Moose, the damage being limited to patches of shoreline blowdown at the south end of the lake.


Big Moose supports five established campsites, three in the north end and one each on the eastern and western shores.

Planning Considerations

Big Moose provides the only connecting route, through Duck, between the cluster of lakes between Big Lake and Burntside and, through Cummings, the remainder of this region, even if it is not a particularly easy link. Don't expect to see a lot of other travelers here.

Big Moose is included in Beymer, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vol. 1, The Western Region, routes 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 18, and 20.


Big Moose supports populations of Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).

Notes and Comments


Line of Spruce Trees

Valley Internet Company
Return to Home Page
Send Feedback to Webmaster

Return to Region 1 home page
Return to Region 1 Lake Tables
Return to Region 1 Portage Table
Return to Canoe Country home page
Last updated on 11 April, 2004