Gillis Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage Northwest, 27 rods, to French
  • Portage Northeast, 25 rods, to Bat
  • Portage South, 90 rods, to Crooked
  • Portage West, 25 rods, to Fern


  • Fisher F-12, Little Sag, Tuscarora, Temperance Lakes
  • McKenzie 7, Tuscarora


  • DNR Lake No. 160753
  • Lake Map No. C0269
  • Lake Table No. 8B
  • MDH Fish Consumption Advisory - N/A
  • MPCA Water Quality - N/A
Gillis Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square

Gillis Lake, BWCAW, photo by Earl J.S. Rook


Gillis is a large lake of 570 acres, 6¾ miles SSW of Gunflint Trail's End and 42¾ miles ENE of Ely. A mile and a half across, it sits at the junction of several popular routes to the east, south, and west. It is a deep, open lake, with a prominant northwestern arm and a southern bay containing some rather large islands. The northwestern arm is linked by 25 rod portage to the much smaller, but equally well connected French, with its links north and east to the Chub River, and west to Little Saganaga and Gabimichigami. The northeastern corner holds the 25 rod hill climb up into Bat and the route east to the Round Lake entry. To the south, a 90 rod carry leads to Crooked and to the Frost River beyond.

The forests surrounding Gillis, with very limited exception, date from the 1864 fire which largely encircled the lake, reaching west to Little Sag. Only a small portion of forest on the northwestern shore near the French Lake portage, which had burned ten years earlier, escaped the 1864 fire. Another stretch of shoreline, in the southeastern end of the lake near Fern, burned again in 1875. Except for isolated pockets which may have escaped the big blaze, no forest around Gillis is more than 145 years old.


Gillis has seven campsites, all but one situated to the northern and western side of the lake. One is an island site.

Planning Considerations

Gillis is a useful lake to travel through, thanks to the many routes to which it is connected. It is also but a few hours of vigorous travel, over well trod paths and small lakes, from the Round Lake landing which makes it a good area in which to spend the last night of a trip. There are, however, better camping lakes just a portage or two away in almost any direction.


The Gillis fish population includes Burbot (Lota lota), Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush), Northern Pike (Esox lucius), White Sucker (Catostomus commersoni), and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).

Notes and Comments

Gillis' northeast/southwest orientation and open character can make the crossing from Bat something of a struggle on a windy day.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004