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Out for an Evening Stroll

Sawbill Lake on a calm, cloudy night

Nothing beats a sunset paddle, but a sunset stroll might be pretty close. One of my favorite walks at Sawbill combines part of the Sawbill Trail with our lakeshore path. This little loop allows for a nice array of scenery. The road offers lots of trees and plants, even some blueberries if your lucky, while the lake path grants one some lovely views of Sawbill Lake. On a quiet night, you can hear the wind through the leaves, the chorus of white-throated sparrows and common loons, and the gentle lapping of water against the Sawbill shoreline. And just because you’re out for a walk doesn’t mean that you have to walk the whole time! My ideal “walk” includes quiet moments sitting by the lake just taking it all in.

Whichever way you choose to spend your evenings here, I hope that you get to enjoy and witness all of the wonderful little things that this place has to offer. This place is truly magical.


Where I like to turn off from the Sawbill Trail
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Saturday Night Naturalist Programs

Any night of the week is a special time to be at Sawbill Lake, but Saturday nights are particularly special. Each Saturday at 7:30pm the Forest Service puts on a free naturalist program at the picnic area near the landing. Everyone is welcome to attend the event and a fire and s’mores are provided! The topic of the program varies week to week, but so far this season there have been talks on bogs, beavers, wolves, and more. If you’re looking to learn more about this beautiful place and happen to be in the area on a Saturday night, swing on by! We’ll see you there!


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Kit learns what it’s like to be a wolf! Grey wolves have warm coats, impressive intelligence, and are great runners!
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Meet the neighbors

8/1/22 – Living on the edge of the wilderness, we are so fortunate to see a lot of fascinating wildlife in our backyard. If you hope to see these awe-inspiring animals yourself, be aware of your volume and always keep a safe distance. To be an unobtrusive observer of the wilderness is such a gift. Long time camper and friend of Sawbill Tim Petricek captured some amazing photos of our neighbors for your enjoyment! -Matthew

Larry the Loon teaching their child how to fish.
Gertrude the Grouse posing for their close up.
Steve and Sue enjoying an evening swim together for date night.
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Merry Christmas in July!

7/31/22 – Friday was the 18th annual Christmas in July! Since we spend Christmas in December scattered across the country, we choose 1 night every July to transform Sawbill into a winter wonderland. Carols are sung, cookies are decorated, a tree is erected, mistletoe is hung, homemade gifts are exchanged, and a proper feast is prepared. It is my personal favorite Sawbill holiday because everyone brings a piece of their family tradition and shares it with the crew. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good summer! -Matthew

From left to right: Clare’s blueberry chutney tarts, David’s Manicotti and quinoa blueberry salad, Clare’s Challah, and Jr/Diana’s cardamom bread. Not pictured: Desserts and the hours of labor each of these dishes took.
The whole crew gathered around the table as gifts are passed out by Kit, Sig, and Mia.
Special shout out to Walt and Kyle for this INCREDIBLE homemade birch bark visor.
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UPDATE: Luigi the Dog Has Been Found

Luigi was found alive and well near Seagull Lake on 7/25. For those reading different BWCA forums alerting paddlers to look for him near lakes Kawishiwi and Polly, please note that he is no longer in the wilderness.

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It’s Berry Picking Season!

7/27/22 – All the rain up here in the north woods has brought at least one good thing with it – a fantastic berry haul!

The blueberries and strawberries are out in force, and some shy raspberries are starting to ripen as well. Berry patches are all over the place near the Sawbill Trail and are food sources for lots of wildlife during the late summer and early fall. Bears, squirrels, moose, and various birds all frequent berry patches, so if you pull over to gather some, make sure you do a quick scan of the clearing to see if you have a picking partner you didn’t plan for!

Some pickers like to bring plant books with them on their outings to help identify the fruit and plants they see. Blueberries and strawberries are widespread and easily identifiable, but when in doubt, check to make sure a berry is edible before picking it! The north woods are home to several varieties of berries that are better left to the wildlife and shouldn’t be eaten by humans.

When you go, make sure to bring a big picking bucket, especially with the huge number of blueberries that are ripe right now. If you do end up with an overflowing blueberry emergency, you can always eat some to clear up space:)


Berry picking in a patch near the Sawbill Trail last week.
Crew member Katie and her bucket – still needs some filling!
Some small north woods strawberries that were quickly eaten after this photo was taken.
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Sawbill Instagram Takeover!

This week, Clare and Dan have made the terrible mistake of handing control of the Sawbill Instagram account over to members of the crew. The crew will be recording their day-to-day activities via Instagram story for the next couple of weeks, so if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a crew member up here, now’s your chance to find out more! You can follow along at @sawbillcanoeoutfitters on Instagram — and for you die-hard blog readers, don’t fret! We’ll still be posting updates here on the newsletter as we always have. Enjoy! — Owen S.

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Sunset Season

7/9/22 – There’s not much better in this world than sitting on a dock watching the sun set after a full day of swimming, paddling, game playing, catching up with old friends and family, bird watching, berry picking… know what I’m talking about. If you can’t make it up here this year, here are a couple of pictures from just such a moment to tide you over.


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Aurora Borealis

This week at Sawbill we’ve been blessed with not one but two different evenings with visible aurora to the north. Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind or high solar activity and are generally easier to spot in high-latitude regions (the arctic and antarctic). While we are well to the South of the Arctic Circle here at Sawbill, we benefit from living in the world’s largest IDA-certified dark sky sanctuary. Still, it’s rare that we get visible and active Northern Lights in the BWCA, let alone twice in one week! The second night of Aurora in three days occurred on the same night the Sawbill crew welcomed an additional member to its ranks; Graham arrived on the 4th of July to round out the last of the full-season employees, and naturally the Sawbill crew had to make their way down to the landing for the greatest fireworks show nature has to offer. — Owen S.

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Oh, the Things You’ll See on a Day Trip

6/26/22 – Sawbill Lake is a great place to start a multi-day canoeing trip, but it’s also a perfect launching point for day trips into the wilderness. In addition to the BWCA entry point right here on Sawbill Lake, the Kawishiwi Lake, Baker Lake, Homer Lake, and Hog Creek entry points are all easily accessible by car and offer entry to areas of the Boundary Waters that are just out of striking distance from the Sawbill area.

Regardless of where day paddlers choose to start, the U.S. Forest Service still requires a day permit to be filled out by every group putting in. Day permits are available at every entry point inside of a cabinet by the canoe launch, conveniently letting paddlers access the wilderness without having to rush and reserve a multi-day permit weeks in advance of their trip. Fill out a slip (drop the Forest Service copy in the drop box inside the cabinet and keep yours in a dry, accessible place on your boat), and you’re all set to get out on the lake!

Day-tripping requires very little equipment – much less than needed on a multi-day trip. That 75 pound portage pack a paddler carries on a four day trip can be replaced with a small pack filled with fishing gear, sunscreen, and a tasty lunch. Additionally, without the worry of making it to a certain lake on a planned route, day trippers can relax on several lakes with lots of time to explore each one’s nooks and crannies. Leisurely swims, quality fishing, and the potential to see some wildlife are all wonderful pros of day-tripping that canoers paddling for multiple days could miss. The Sawbill crew loves to take advantage of the day trip’s flexibility, and often come back with great stories, good pictures, and if we’re lucky, a freshly caught walleye or two.

If a multi-day trip into the Boundary Waters doesn’t quite fit your situation, remember that day trips are always a fantastic option. And if you decide to use the Sawbill Campground as a base camp for your day-tripping adventures, the Sawbill Store always has extra s’more stuff that those folks on a four day expedition might have already run out of…


A good looking snapping turtle basking on Smoke Lake. Video taken by crew member Evan on a day trip last week.