Swan Lake

Making Connections

  • Bushwhack East, 30 rods, to Lac
  • Portage Southeast, 40 rods, to South Brule River
    Landing: 47º57'03"/ 90º31'03"
  • Paddle West, to 292 rod portage to Vernon


  • Fisher F-13, No. Gunflint Trail, Gunflint, Bearskin Lakes
  • McKenzie 3, Ballclub Lake


Swan Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Swan is a smaller, relatively deep lake on the South Brule River. Roughly triangular in shape, ¾ mile to a side, each of its three corners ends at a stream - the mouth of Swan Creek at the north end, the mouth of the South Brule in the southwest, and the outlet of the South Brule in the southeast. Most of its 180 acres exceed 15' in depth, with a maximum depth of 108'. The land rises steeply to the northwest with somewhat lower hills to the south. Swan Creek drops 325' in its 1¾ mile course down from the high ground to the northwest.

The South Brule above Swan, after the first couple of deep S curves, is no longer navigable and pressing on to Vernon requires taking a 292 rod portage up the south side of the valley. The portage climbs nearly 120' in the first half mile (180 rods) before dropping 60' into Vernon. (Note that while the McKenzie maps show the portage landing on the southwestern shore of Swan, both Fisher and the USGS have it taking off up river, past the S curves, where the river ceases to be navigable. The latter are generally more reliable and are most likely correct in this instance). A short, 40 rod carry out of the southeast end of the lake connects with the South Brule. An old railroad grade runs down the South Brule valley from near the north end of Swan to Bower Trout. There was once a 30 rod portage off the northeastern shore of Swan into Lac which may or may not remain.


Swan supports three established campsites, two along the southern shore of the point that extends from the lake's northeastern side, and a third at the north end near the mouth of Swan Creek, where a logging camp once stood. (Beymer is unclear as to the location of the logging camp and I've not been there yet. It may be nearer the portage to Vernon).

Planning Considerations

Swan is a link on the South Brule route, the 8½ miles of river and small lakes up from the Bower Trout entry point to Brule Lake. Swan is a beautiful setting for an overnight stay and, while the high ground tends to restrict canoe travel to the river valley, those interested in stretching their legs might want to consider hiking up to little Footsteps Lake, less that 1/3 mile off the north end of Swan, and 167' above it.


Swan supports populations of Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), and White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni). Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) have been stocked.

Notes and Comments

The 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. The logging camp that once stood at the north end of Swan, and the old railroad that once carried timber down the South Brule from here, stand as fading reminders that, while protected as wilderness, some parts of the BWCA are still recovering from logging earlier in this century.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004