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Overnight Permit Options and Cancellations

7/1/24 – We are fully in the summer swing of things here at Sawbill and it is wild that it is already July!! For anyone who is still looking to plan a trip into the Boundary Waters, or who currently has a trip planned, but maybe not for the entry point that you wanted, here are some helpful tips. 

As you may know, the 11 daily overnight paddle permits for Sawbill Lake Entry Point are a hot commodity and are generally fully booked for the whole summer. However, there are lots of other great options for entry points in our area (the Tofte District) that have routes with similar feels to routes out of Sawbill. 

For those who are wanting to do the Cherokee Loop, a great option if you cannot find a Sawbill permit would be to enter at either Baker or Brule which not only allows you to see an extra lake or two not on the classic Cherokee Loop, but after only an extra portage or two, you are on the direct course of the classic Cherokee Loop itself. We have this on our website as the Temperance River Loop.

For those who enjoy setting up a base camp, whether it’s on North Sawbill or on Alton or Smoke, and doing a lot of fishing, entry at Hog Creek with a quick paddle (about 2-3 hours) to Perent, or Island River with a quick paddle to Isabella (about 2-3 hours), or Isabella directly, or entry on Homer give you a very similar experience with also incredible fishing, plus the experience of getting paddle on a river for a little bit and see some different scenery. 

Lastly, entry at Kawishiwi gives you great access to the Lady Chain route which takes you back to Sawbill, but there is also the option to do an out-and-back trip up to either Polly or a bit farther to Malberg, both of which also are great lakes to base camp and fish. 

For all entry points that aren’t Sawbill, we offer the option to tie any rented canoes down to your vehicle free of charge and we have all of the equipment necessary for that and will teach you how to do it so that you feel comfortable to tie it down to get it back to us. Tie downs are a great option if you are planning to go both in and out of the wilderness at the same place, however, if you are planning to paddle back to Sawbill from a different entry point, we also offer transportation to any entry point and prices for that can be found on our Partial Outfitting page.

Cancellations for permits happen more frequently than you might expect, so it is worth it to continue checking to see if any permits open up for the entry point you are hoping for. However, I would also recommend getting a permit if you see one that might be of interest, even if it isn’t for the exact entry point that you want, because you can always cancel and switch to your desired entry point if one opens up, but this way you know that you have a trip on the calendar. 

With that being said, if you know that you are no longer going to be using your overnight paddle permit, be sure to cancel it so that it becomes open to others who are searching! You can do this directly on yourself or if Sawbill is your pick up point for the permit, you can give us a call and we can cancel that for you as well. 

Finally, if you are really wanting to paddle on Sawbill, but can’t find a permit, day trips from our campground which is right on Sawbill Lake are a great option. Just under half of our campground is first come first serve sites and we rarely completely fill during the season so they are perfect for a last minute trip. The day use permits for the wilderness are down at the landing and they are free and unlimited, so just fill one of those out before you head into the wilderness for the day. 

Feel free to give us a call (218-663-7150) or send us an email ( if you have any questions about entry points other than Sawbill. Even if you cannot get your first choice of entry point for an overnight paddle, you are sure to have a great time in the wilderness. We hope to see you up here for a trip soon! -Anna