Boundary Waters, MN
Rule #1 when planning a trip to Boundary Waters: Be prepared. Your little munchers won't be able to duck into fast-food joints for french fries. And anything you pack must be portaged (carried) from lake to lake. Planning will make the difference between a terrific trip and a forced march.
Here are some basic points to cover before hitting the trail:
- Choose the right outfitter. It's possible to plan this trip on your own (provided you have a canoe and camping equipment). But we recommend using an experienced local outfitter. They'll tailor a route to suit your gang's ages and abilities, supply all the gear you need, and even help with park permits.
- Chart your course. If you don't want to set up camp every night in a new spot (a major undertaking with youngsters), choose a base camp and make day trips from there. If you want to move around, be sure to discuss portages with your outfitter.
The footpaths connecting the lakes are measured in "rods." A rod is about one canoe length (16.5 feet). Portages of 50 rods or under are easy, and considered best for families with young children. Some routes have portages of a mile (360 rods) or more. Waterproof, topographical maps, published by Mackenzie Maps or W.A. Fisher, will tell you if the terrain is flat (important to know when carrying a loaded canoe). Your outfitter will probably provide one of these maps, but it's better to buy and study one in advance.
Whatever you do, keep this in mind: Most empty canoes weigh less than 40 pounds. The weight of supplies depends on length of stay, style of camping, and size of group. Generally, adults carry the canoes (on their shoulders, mind you!), and kids haul gear.