DescriptionHeritage Lake is a moderate-sized lake at the head of Heritage Creek, in the Loon River drainage, 12½ miles ESE of Crane Lake and 28¼ miles northwest of Ely. In form a very shallow S-curve some 2 miles long, Heritage covers 184 acres to a maximum depth of 40', about half of that in the highly productive littoral zone (a depth of 15' or less). Off the northwestern shore, Heritage Creek begins its 2½ mile course north and east to Loon Lake. About ¾ mile downstream, just before the creek narrows substantially, a tough 220 rod portage heads east to Loon, bypassing the lower reaches of Heritage Creek. The portage climbs 24' above the creekbank in the first 50 rods, then drops back by the same amount in the following 100 rods, at which point the trail plunges some 58' in only 22 rods, regains 12', then drops another 46' in the final 50 rods down to the Loon Lake shore. (It's a tough carry, but not nearly so bad as coming up from Loon to Heritage).
At its far southern end, Heritage narrows to a point at the mouth of Shell Creek, down from Shell Lake, a tenth of a mile to the south. A 60 rod portage up the east bank of the creek climbs 24' to the Shell Lake shore. Out of a small bay on the southeastern shore of Heritage, a 100 rod carry climbs steadily to the east, climbing the 28' to the west end of Lynx.
The forests which ring Heritage are, with a couple of exceptions, of fairly recent date. The bulk of the forest has grown up in the aftermath of the big 1894 fire, while an area off the north end of the lake, which presumably escaped the 1894 blaze, was logged during the First World War by the Virginia and Rainy Lake Lumber Company. However, the area through which the Lynx Lake portage passes, along with another small lakeside stand just up the eastern shore of Heritage from the portage, have not burned since the mid-18th Century. See if you can notice the difference on the portage. (This region of the BWCA escaped damage in the 4th of July windstorms of 1999, which caused such extensive tree loss to the south and east).
CampsitesHeritage supports two established campsites, one along the western shore, in the south end of the lake, with the lake's deepest water just off shore, and the other on a point at the north end, adjacent to the head of Heritage Creek.
Planning ConsiderationsHeritage, with its connections to Loon, Shell, and Lynx, provides an alternate, more northerly, and more difficult connection between big Loon Lake and the east/west Pauness/Boulder Bay route, which heads north and east out of Upper and Lower Pauness on the Little Indian Sioux River through Shell, Little Shell, Lynx, Ruby, Hustler, Oyster, and Lake Agnes, to Boulder Bay on Lac La Croix. Just to the west of Heritage, a number of small, unnamed lakes and ponds provide worthy destinations for the afternoon hiker.
WildlifeHeritage supports populations of Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Tullibee (Cisco) (Coregonus artedi), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).
Notes and CommentsHeritage is just enough removed from the heavier traffic on Loon and through the Lynx/Shell area, to provide an appreciably greater dollop of solitude when those more popular lakes are teeming.
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