Burntside Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage Northwest, 140 rods, to Slim
  • Portage Northwest, 320 rods, to Crab


  • Fisher F-2, Bear Head Park, Eagle's Nest, East Vermilion; F-9, Cummings, Big Moose, Fourtown Lakes
  • McKenzie No. 16, Burntside Lake


Burntside Lake
Scale 1:85682
Full image approximately 8 miles square


Burntside is a very large, deep lake in the Vermilion drainage basin, 30½ miles southeast of Crane Lake and but 3 miles northwest of Ely. All of Burntside's 7139 acres lie outside of the boundaries of the BWCAW but its western shore is adjacent to the wilderness and provides access to entry points #6 to Slim Lake and #4 to Crab and Cummings. From Entry Point 6, a 140 rod portage follows the creek up to the end of a narrow arm off the southeastern shore of Slim. Off the western shore of Burntside, the mile long Crab Lake portage (320 rods) climbs steadily, gaining some 40' of elevation over the first 250 rods. The trail the turns more sharply upward, gaining another 85' in only 65 rods before dropping back 25' to the southeast end of Crab.


Burntside supports numerous established campsites along its western shore and in the North Arm.

Planning Considerations

Burntside is a terminus of the Big Lake/Burntside route, which crosses this region of the BWCAW border-to-border, from Big in the north, by way of Lapond, Big Rice, Hook, Rice, and Slim, to the North Arm of Burntside. Burntside offers two BWCAW entry points, #6 to Slim and #4 to Crab. The Slim Lake entry may be reached by gravel road along the North Arm of Burntside while the Crab Lake entry requires paddling across the big lake from one of the public access points to the portage landing on the western shore.

Burntside is included in Beymer, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vol. 1, The Western Region, routes 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, and 27.


Burntside supports populations of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas), Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush), Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Shorthead Redhorse (Moxostoma macrolepidotum), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens). Walleye and Lake Trout were stocked in 1994 and 1996.

Walleye, Lake Trout, and Northern Pike from Burntside contain levels of mercury such that Walleye over 20", Trout over 25", and Northerns over 30" should not be eaten by children or women of child-bearing age. Others should limit their consumption of these fish to one meal per month. For more details, check the Minnesota Fish Consumption Advisory.

Notes and Comments


Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004