Lac La Croix

Making Connections

  • Paddle East, up the Bottle River, to Bottle Lake
  • Portage East, 320 rods, to Iron
  • Portage South, 65 rods, to the Boulder River
  • Portage West, 28 rods, to Kelsey
  • Portage South, 100 rods, to Toe
  • Portage North, 8 rods, to Toe
  • Paddle West, up Pocket Creek
  • Portage South, 20 rods, to Takucmich
  • Portage South, 80 rods, to Gun
  • Paddle East, to North
  • Portage East, 70 rods, to Norway
  • Portage South, 50 rods, to Loon
  • Portage North, 300 rods, to Thompson (Q)
  • Paddle North, down the Namakan River (Q)
  • Portage East, 66 rods, to McAree (Q)
  • Portage East, 32 rods, to Brewer (Q)
  • Portage Southeast, 80 rods, to Bottle


  • Fisher F-16, Loon, Lac La Croix, Nina Moose Lakes
  • McKenzie 13, Lac La Croix; 14, Loon, Wilkins Bay


  • DNR Lake No. 690224
  • Lake Map No. B0205
  • Lake Table No. 2A
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality

Lac La Croix, West End

Map 3, Map 4

Scale 1:85682
Full image approximately 8 miles square


Lac La Croix is a massive border lake, stretching over 28 miles along the Minnesota/Ontario border. La Croix is simply immense, covering some 34,070 acres and reaching a maximum depth of 168'. It is the largest of the BWCA lakes, with some 8500 acres more than runnerup Basswood.

The forests which ring Lac La Croix are of a variety of age classes, as befits its great size. Much of the forest along its southern shore, and on Coleman Island, burned in the fires of 1864, with subsequent fire on the mainland in 1894. While these fires reached some of the islands, the islands do include remnant stands dating back to stand replacing fires in 1827, 1755, and even 1681. 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.


Lac La Croix supports dozens of established campsites, scattered about its islands and many miles of shoreline.

Planning Considerations

Lac La Croix is large enough and varied enough to provide many miles of portage-free travel and exploration, in both the US and Canada. It also links up with dozens of other, smaller lakes, providing a wealth of routing options. Motors are allowed, but only along a 4½ mile stretch of the border north from the Beatty Portage into Loon to the southern end of Snow Bay.

Be aware that on such a large body of water conditions can be dangerous even in good weather, due to the potential for high wind and waves. Allow plenty of time for crossing, start early in the day, know how to set and follow a heading with your compass, hold close to the shore, and always keep an eye on the sky for changing weather conditions.

Lac La Croix is included in Beymer, The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vol. 1, The Western Region, routes 5, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 25, and 27.


Lac La Croix supports populations of Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), Burbot (Lota lota), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), Pumpkinseed Sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus), Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax), Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Sauger (Stizostedion canadense), Shorthead Redhorse (Moxostoma macrolepidotum), Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui), Tullibee (Cisco) (Coregonus artedi), Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens). Shallow water fish populations are dominated by Walleye, followed by Northerns, Sucker, and Rock Bass. Very low numbers of other species.

Notes and Comments

Lac La Croix is French for "lake of the cross", presumably named by one of the early French explorers of the region. As the lake is not remotely cruciform, the name is probably of religious derivation.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004