DescriptionBower Trout is a small, and quite shallow, little lake on the South Brule River, just inside the southeastern boundary of the BWCAW. Scarcely 1¼ miles across at its greatest length, its 149 acres have a maximum depth of but 6'. From its south shore, Brule Mountain rises some 575' to its 2226' summit, one of the highest points in Minnesota and only 75' below the summit of the state's highest point on nearby Eagle Mountain. To the north, a jumble of high hills rolls up to the Misquah Hills.
The South Brule River enters Bower Trout on the southwestern shore, down from Marshall Lake, 1/3 of a mile upstream to the south and west. A 92 rod, up-and-over portage along the north bank of the river climbs over 75' in the first 60 rods out of Bower Trout, before dropping back some 50' to the Marshall shore. The two landings on this portage demonstrate well the two most frequently encountered BWCA landings, a firm, rocky put-in on the Marshall side, and a mucky mess at the Bower Trout end.
Out of the lake's extreme east end, the river runs down 1/3 of a mile to and under Forest Road 152 and some 7½ miles beyond to its confluence with the North Brule. An old railroad grade runs up the South Brule on the north side of Bower Trout, from the BWCAW boundary 4½ miles up to Swan Lake.
CampsitesBower Trout supports two established campsites in the west end, one each on the northern and southern shore.
Planning ConsiderationsBower Trout is BWCAW Entry Point 43 and the gateway up the South Brule Valley to Brule Lake and the interior beyond. Canoe access to the lake is gained by way of a 1/3 mile paddle up the South Brule from the bridge on Forest Road 152, where limited parking is available. It can also be reached by a ½ mile primitive road from 152 and a portage down to the north shore of the lake. This road, past an old gravel quarry, is not passable its full length due to the mucky terrain as it nears the lake. Just over ¼ mile in from 152 are several parking spaces and from there a 72 rod carry, part of it along a new boardwalk, leads to the lake. The landing at lakeside, with normal water levels, is something of a mucky mess, with poor footing and a broad expanse between solid ground and water deep enough to float a loaded canoe. Nevertheless, this latter is the preferred approach to the lake.
Bower Trout may be a less used entry point but with only a single entry permit issued daily, advance reservations are definitely in order. Though largely a pass-through lake, the two campsites are useful for the first night of a trip after a late arrival, or the final night prior to an early departure. In order to make a loop route, Bower Trout is often paired with Ram Lake to the north. It's an easy walk of just over a mile between the Bower Trout and Ram Lake parking areas, making the ferrying of vehicles a fairly simple matter. Note: the Ram Lake road, while short, is yet more primitive than that into Bower Trout (a 'dozer road, really) so 4-wheel drive is a good idea, if only for the clearance.
WildlifeBower Trout's shallow waters support populations of Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens). Not surprisingly, moose are often seen here.
Notes and CommentsThe South Brule River route up from Bower Trout traverses an underappreciated corner of the BWCA and is probably the premier approach to big Brule Lake.
Some sources, including the USGS, have this lake as Lower Trout.
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