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

Powered by
Movable Type 3.15
Sawbill Newsletter

8/23/16 - Wildlife sightings can be the cherry on top of any wilderness camping trip. Catching a glimpse of a 1,000 pound moose measuring six feet tall at the shoulder is quite the thrill, but if you aren't lucky enough to see one in the flesh the careful observer can often put together the story of animals who have already passed through. Portages and campsites are the perfect place to find tracks and scat left by these animals. It's pretty fun to imagine what it would have been like to be standing in the same place just a few minuets, hours, or possibly even years ago when the sign had been first left. -Jessica

Its fun to picture a black bear bumbling along the portage hours before I came along to snap this photo.

This moose skull was found on a campsite a couple days paddle from Sawbill. How did it meet it's demise? Hard to say, but it doesn't hurt to speculate.

8/21/16 - Nashville singer, songwriter Jerry Vandiver recently passed along this very nice video featuring his "Leave No Trace" song. The video was put together by the Leave No Trace Center and talks about the history and mission of their organization. Worth a watch. -Jessica

8/18/16 - How many places can you think of more romantic than the Boundary Waters? I bet many of us can agree its pretty hard to beat waking up to an early morning mist setting in over the lake, watching the colors of the sun reflecting off the clouds as it sets behind the horizon, or gazing up at some of the darkest night sky many of us will ever see.

Thom Stang must have been thinking along these lines when he decided to propose to Stephanie Morris during their 11 day canoe trip. The couple's friend, Joe, very carefully carried the ring in his pocket the first four days the distance to Little Saganaga lake. On the fourth day Thom popped the question and Stephanie has been transporting the ring on her finger ever since. -Jessica

Stephanie and Thom shortly after returning from their trip.

8/15/16 - The first few miles of the Sawbill Trail have been a summer training stop among competitive cross country skiers over the years. With the addition of another 10 miles of fresh pavement their training ground vastly expanded. Yesterday a group of at least 50 roller skiers made their way up the seemingly endless inclines as they traveled away from the shores of Lake Superior. Quite the sight to see. - Jessica

Caution signs were posted along their route.

Nothing but up hill and fresh pavement.

8/12/16 - The Olympic spirit is alive and well in the north woods. A few days ago we held our very own Sawbill Olympics. Teams of two, representing various countries, competed in a myriad of events. Semifinals included; bear rope rolling, calculating rental agreements, and a retail scavenger hunt. Participants were scored on speed and accuracy.

The gold medal event took place the following day between teams Denmark and Croatia. Each portaged their aluminum canoes from the store down to the landing, paddled in opposite directions around mouse island, and then quickly portaged back to the store. Medals were awarded to the following countries; gold to Denmark (Owen and Elena), silver to Croatia (Claire and Dan), and bronze to Finland (Cindy and Brian).

Many thanks to the Olympic committee for organizing the events and to the athletes for participating. - Jessica

The start of the gold medal race. Croatia on the left, Denmark on the right.

Neck and neck for the first leg of the race.

Team Denmark pulls ahead after rounding mouse island.

Mixed emotions from Denmark as they take home the gold.

8/8/16 - This information was sent to us from the Cook County Highway Department regarding construction on the Sawbill Trail:

According to County Engineer David Betts, paving on the Sawbill Trail was completed on Friday, August 5th, well ahead of schedule. Finishing work will continue over the next three weeks. Motorists are advised that traffic will be restricted where the work is occurring and should plan accordingly.

Happy travels! - Elena

8/6/16 - Customer Chris McGreevy sent us some photos from his recent stay in the Sawbill campground.

Night Fishing on Sawbill Lake

Successful fishing means fish for dinner!

Chris was also lucky to have his campsite protected from squirrels and chipmunks by Director of Campground Security, Phoebe Fern.

Phoebe keeps an eye out for squirrels.. and possibly some bacon.

We love to see photos from your time at Sawbill. Thanks, Chris! - Elena

8/5/16 - Sawbill crew and customers have been lucky enough to see the Aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, several times this summer. On August 2nd, they were out in full force. Customer Christopher Glenn was out on the dock at the same time as the crew, and was kind enough to send us this photo.

This photo doesn't quite do the experience justice - it was an unbelievable sight. Perhaps it is best summed up by this passage from the Robert Frost poem "On Looking Up By Chance at the Constellations":

You'll wait a long, long time for anything much
To happen in heaven beyond the floats of cloud
And the Northern Lights that run like tingling nerves.

When you make your way up to Sawbill, be sure to ask someone at the Rentals desk for the Northern Lights forecast! You might just get lucky. - Elena

The youngest Sawbill crew member went for her first swim just yesterday. Kit Shirley, not yet three months old, got her toes (and more) wet down at the landing on a gorgeous summer day. Reports from Mom and Dad (Clare and Dan Shirley) state that she seemed to enjoy it, as long as she was snuggled up to Dad.

Smiles all around!

Not many kids will be able to say their first swim was in the BWCA - Kit sure is a lucky girl! - Elena

7/31/16 - Steve Snyder, who worked at the Sawbill Lodge back in the day, went on a trip this July with his grandson Augie. They camped on Burnt lake and had good luck with fishing for walleyes.

Steve and Augie, down at the landing

Augie with his fish. Hopefully he'll be working here in a few years!

It's always wonderful to receive photos from your trips, so please email them to You may see them featured on a future newsletter! - Elena

7/28/16 - Pitcher plants are well-known in Minnesota. Today I paddled out to Kelso Lake to see if they were out for the summer, and they didn't disappoint!


These carnivorous plants feed on insects, with their pitcher-shaped leaves acting as a trap.


The leaves are slippery, and lined with downward-pointing hairs. At the bottom is an enzyme-rich liquid which traps and absorbs the insects and their protein.


I also saw some white water lilies, which are technically called "fragrant water lilies" to distinguish them from bullhead lilies, which are the yellow, cup-shaped ones. A fun fact about these lilies is that after they bloom, the stem contracts and pulls the lily into the water. After the seeds in the seedpod mature, they float the surface, and then sink again, starting the life cycle of the lily all over again.


I saw all of this on the Kelso Loop, one of the day trips out of Sawbill. The next time you're up here, consider doing the loop, and keep your eyes peeled for pitcher plants! - Elena

7/27/16 - If you've spent any time with the Sawbill crew, you know that we like to be silly sometimes. It's a wonderful thing to live with your co-workers, and sometimes you need a formal occasion to express how much you appreciate each other. In our case, that occasion comes decked in red and green!

Christmas in July has been celebrated at Sawbill for many years now. On the 24th, we all gather to bake and decorate sugar cookies, and the following evening have a dinner and gift exchange at 9:30, once everyone is off of work. These two days are filled with laughter, Christmas carols, and a lot of sugar.

The Sawbill Crew decorating cookies

This masterpiece was created by crew member Jessica

Merry Christmas! - Elena

7/22/16 - Blueberry season is soon approaching! In just a few days there will be thousands of ripe, delicious berries for BWCA visitors to snack upon. Wild blueberries are much smaller than the ones you get in the store, so don't be surprised by their size. What they may lack in size, they more than make up for it in flavor. All that June rain and the hot temperatures in the past weeks have really brought out the best in the berries.


The next time you portage, take a look close to the ground. You might be rewarded for your hard work!- Elena

7/21/16 - Last night, the BWCA was hit with a fairly large storm. The Sawbill area experienced lots of winds and rain, however no known injuries have been reported in the surrounding lakes and loops (Kawishiwi, Cherokee, Brule, Etc.). The Forest Service is hard at work doing everything they can to survey the area and report back to us. Thankfully, as of this afternoon, everything is clear.

Stay cool out there!

7/21/16 - Sawbill canoeist Jesse Dinsdale sent along this wonderful picture of his solo sunrise paddle on Sawbill Lake. I almost hate to say it, but gorgeous sunrise and sunset photos are pretty common in the wilderness, but Jesse's picture really tells an evocative story. Bill

Sawbill Lake, July 2016.


Home I Trip Planning I Rentals and Outfitting I Reservations I Campgrounds I Sawbill Store I Sawbill News I Contact

© 1997 - 2016, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, Inc. I Privacy Policy