Paddling the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park
by James Churchill (Falcon Guides)
© James Churchill/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
The Shoepack run is an excellent choice for fishing enthusiasts. It's a pretty by-the-book run to begin, and getting from Ash River to Jorgens lake is just following the trails. Once you get to Jorgens, though, pay attention. There's an unmarked trail on the left just before Jorgens lake that is the portage to Little Shoepack. At least one ranger doesn't know about it, so just look for it when you get there.
This portage (unnamed) is 1.4 mi and is blissfully level. There are points where getting a canoe around is difficult, and there are currently a few points with downed trees that need to be maneuvered over and under. At the Little Shoepack end of the trail, it peters our by a bever dam. If you're carefull, though, you can grab a game trail to the edge of the dam and follow it to where the trail starts again at the NW end of the pond.
Little Shoepack is a short paddle to the NW corner where you'll head up a bay to find an unmarked (but at least mapped) portage on the right side. It's a cakewalk portage, and the .25 mi they list it as seems generous. From there, you're at Shoepack. The campsite shown on the map does not exist, and it appears that there used to be one on another point/island with a duck boat anchored at it. There is significant fire damage to Shoepack, though, and that site had been hit. I recommend finding another site, since a strong wind would turn that quite bad.
Overall, it's a very worthwhile route. While I've seen many recommendations that you should take two days to make it there, that's totally unneccessary. While I can't count going in (got slightly lost b/c I missed the trail not expecting one and bushwacking up to L Shoepack), the trip back out took me just a little over 5 hours, with double portaging. If you can do it without double portaging, Shoepack should be reachable with a steady pace in about 4 hours.
Sign in/up to upload photos.
Keep Me Informed
Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.
We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.