Contact Us:
Phone: (218)663-7150
Fax: (218)663-7980
Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter

8/20/17 - Sawbill has been in the news quite a bit lately. A few weeks ago, a team of reporters from NBC came up to interview Clare Shirley about her experience with the loss of OB/GYN services in rural communities.

After the birth center in Grand Marais was closed, Clare had planned to deliver her daughter Kit, who was born last May, in Duluth, a 2.5 hour drive from Sawbill. But life doesn't always go according to plan.

When it became clear that Clare wasn't going to make it to Duluth before Kit was born, the ambulance that met the Shirleys on Highway 61 took them to Sawtooth Clinic in Grand Marais where Kit was born 25 minutes later.

You can listen to Clare tell her story in the video below, and read the full story here. - Elena

8/14/17 - Blueberry picking is a traditional summer activity, but the North Woods offers another delectable treat that requires a little more hunting: Mushrooms.

Yesterday, several of the Sawbill crew went searching for lobster mushrooms, and to great success.

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Clare and Jesse hard at work

Lobster mushrooms (hypomyces lactifluorum) are named after their distinctive color, which is similar to cooked lobster meat. When cooking lobster mushrooms, it is important not to over-do it, as the flavor can be easily lost. They are delicious when paired with a white wine.

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A beautiful bounty

Mushroom hunting should always be done with caution and with an experienced hunter. Happy gathering ~ Elena

8/13/17 - After a day of rain followed by a stretch of warm sunny weather, the blueberries are at their peak right now. The patch is full of perfectly plump, ripe berries. Cindy and I took Kit on her first berry picking excursion yesterday. She is a big fan of tromping around in the woods. She quickly learned how to pick berries off the bush, but not many of them made it all the way to her bucket.

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Kit shows Cindy the way.

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Cindy teaches Kit how to pick berries without picking leaves.


8/12/17 - After much anticipation, our new Sawyer paddles have arrived, and just in time for the busy season!

Kit helps unpack the new paddles

Not only are these paddles sturdy and trustworthy tools, they are beautiful, too!

Jessica doing her best Vanna White impression

This paddle features Sawbill's logo

Dan modeling how to hold a bent-shaft paddle: The curve should face away from you, giving you maximum contact with the water and a longer reach.

These paddles are already heading out into the Boundary Waters with eager and excited visitors. The stories they could tell, if only they could talk... - Elena

8/7/17 - Clear night skies this past week have provided great opportunities for star-gazing. Crew member and official crew photographer Brian Henry snagged this photo of the Big Dipper a few nights ago.

Jesse and Tess taking in the view

Sadly, no Northern Lights have been spotted recently, but it's still early, so keep your eyes peeled! - Elena

8/5/17 - One of the main questions we get asked when helping visitors plan their trips is "How's the fishing on ___ Lake?"

The good news is you don't have to travel far - Alton, Beth, Smoke, and Burnt are all within a 1-2 hour paddle from Sawbill and are some of our most reliable fishing lakes, as well as Sawbill itself.

Just a few nights ago, crew members Brian, Jessica, and Tyler (TC) headed down to Sawbill to do a little night fishing - and to wild success!

Jessica and TC pose with their bounty

This fillet of walleye (one of many) will make for a nice meal for the Sawbill crew later this summer.

If you're heading up and want advice on fishing spots, bait, or time of day, don't hesitate to ask for one of these three experts! - Elena

8/3/17 - The Sawbill crew is a close-knit bunch. Living in such close quarters certainly helps with getting to know each other on a deep level. In a celebration of that level of personal knowledge about each other, we celebrated with a Dress-Like-Another-Crew-Member dinner!

Coming in first place in the costume contest were Brian, Mark, and Tyler, who replicated the Shirley family perfectly.

From left to right: Brian as Clare, Mark as Kit, and Tyler as Dan

The real deal

Delicious food was served, including FOUR blueberry pies. That's right, folks, four. Blueberry season is upon us, so be sure to be on the lookout. - Elena

8/2/17 - Can you believe it's August already, folks? It seems like only yesterday that the canoes were being taken out of the Dome for the first time, and now we're sending them out as fast as we can. During our busy season, it's a good idea to call ahead and make a reservation!

With the long days of summer, we recommend fishing and sunset watching for your evening BWCA activities. These sunset photos are courtesy of Sawbill's own Adam Hansen - thanks, Adam!

The sun starts setting at around 8:30 these days

The unique and every-changing nature of sunsets makes it easy to take a million pictures in one night!

Goodnight, BWCA! - Elena

7/29/17 - Sawbill's annual hootenany, known as the Dome Dance, took place last night in the famed circular building behind the outfitters.


Terrence Smith called the dances to live music. One of the musicians, Jeff Greensmith, is a former Sawbill crew member!

Crew members and campers alike had a blast, dancing the night away. Thanks to everyone who made it! - Elena

7/27/17 - You'll know you're at the half way point of the 480 rod portage between Lujenida and Zenith when the trail disappears underwater. Don't fret - the water is less than knee deep and the ground is solid. Just keep an eye out for the sunken boardwalks on the northern portion.


The simplest way to cross this section (and any other wet or muddy portage) is to simply walk right down the middle. Sure, your feet will get wet and dirty, but it's the safest route and best for maintaining the trail.

As always, we recommend footwear that you don't mind getting wet and is suited for the job. A popular option is Chaco sandals. They are equiped with heavy duty vibram soles and a simple, secure and durable strap system.

Happy trails! - Elena

7/26/17 - Blue skies and sunny as of late have been making it hard to stay inside. The pollinators seem to be taking advantage of the beautiful weather as well. Earlier today these butterflies allowed me to get close enough to snap a couple quick pictures. I seen many other types of butterflies, bees, and pollinating flies but I wasn't quick or stealthy enough to capture their likenesses. -Jessica

According to Butterflies of the North Woods, by Larry Weber, the White Admiral butterfly doesn't usually nectar on flowers (although this one was found resting on a daisy). Typically they get nutrients from animal scat, aphid honey, or wet sand and gravel.

Aphrodite Fritillarys can be found in their butterfly stage from late June through early September. Fun fact; late in the summer they deposit their eggs on violets. The eggs will hatch into caterpillars in the fall. The caterpillars then remain dormant over the winter, but emerge in the spring to feast on nothing but violets. Some might say they eat and sleep violets.

7/25/17 - Hot off the press; a shipment of shiny new Alumacraft canoes. Although the majority of our fleet now consists of lightweight Kevlar canoes we still offer the classic aluminum option. -Jessica

Tyler and Laura untying the load.

We were the last stop on the drivers route. At one time this trailer was packed full.

Laura, Nick, and Megan demonstrate teamwork to get the canoes safely off the truck.

7/22/17 - Blueberry season is upon us!...well, its almost upon us. Yesterday I conducted some berry reconnaissance and found they are coming along nicely. Its pretty early in the season, but blueberry pancakes could be on the breakfast menu if you're heading out on a trip in the next few weeks.
A lot of the plants I found had a sprinkling of ripe berries, but many had reasonably sized, mostly green berries.

7/18/17 - Christy Prediger and her husband visited Sawbill last Friday to do a day canoe trip. During their time here, they spotted some wildlife. Christy was kind enough to send some videos our way, and we are so happy to be able to share them with you.

This loon family has taken up residence on Sawbill Lake. Loons will return to the same lake year after year, so this loon couple and their babies could be part of a long legacy.

Christy and her husband saw this young moose on their drive down the Sawbill Trail. Animals use the roads as corridors for their travel since the brush is often thick, so keep your eyes peeled on your drive up and back!

Thanks, Christy! - Elena

7/16/17 - Sawbill played host to a wedding this past weekend, between long-time campers Mike and Pam. Early in their relationship, Mike brought Pam up to Sawbill, so it was a fitting location for the beginning of their next chapter together. The wilderness treated them with good weather and a beautiful sunset.

Congratulations from the whole crew! - Elena


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