Explore, paddle, fish, and swim from a base camp on either Crescent or Sawbill Lake in the Superior National Forest. Take day canoe trips into the famed Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and experience portaging with only a day pack to carry. Take a break from paddling to hike on the Superior Hiking Trail to enjoy beautiful overlooks of Lake Superior. Return to the group campsite each afternoon with time for fishing and swimming before dinner. Enjoy s’mores around the fire under the star-filled sky as you plan the adventure for the next day. This is a great trip for the whole family and no experience is necessary.
Sample ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Meet your trip mates and set up your home away from home.
Your trip starts in the afternoon at the campsite on either Crescent or Sawbill Lake in the Superior National Forest, on the edge of the BWCA. Meet your group and settle in to your campsite. After dinner, enjoy stories and s’mores under the stars.
Day 2: Spend the day paddling Minnesota's famous lake country wilderness.
Get up early to make breakfast and get ready for the day's adventures. Head to Sawbill Lake for a full day canoe trip in Minnesota’s famous lake country wilderness. The group may split into two groups for the paddle to better appreciate the solitude and stillness. Compare your experiences over a lively dinner.
Day 3: Hike on the Superior Hiking Trail and enjoy majestic views of Lake Superior
Today, you may opt to hike to the top of Oberg Mountain. Or if you are looking for a more relaxing day, enjoy swimming, fishing, or exploring the surrounding streams. Come back to camp as a whole group for dinner and star gazing.
Day 4: Spend the day paddling, fishing, and swimming in the pristine waters of the BWCA.
Head into the BWCA once again to explore a different lake. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and try your luck at fishing during lunch. Get back to the campsite in time to enjoy a dip in the lake.
Day 5: Enjoy one final hike before saying farewell to your trip mates.
Break camp and go on one last hike to Temperance River to view the amazing gorge. The trip officially ends before lunch.
Dates & Fees
What to Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: At night you will camp in the Superior National Forest, which lies on the Canadian Shield, an area characterized by exposed granite with a thin layer of topsoil. This terrain is the result of glaciers scraping and grinding 10,000 years ago. The lakes and trails make this area one of the most accessible wilderness areas in the country.
ACTIVITIES ON YOUR TRIP: This trip is recommended for families with children age 3 and older. It is a kid-friendly camping trip that is also great for teenagers. You will go on day trips in 18-foot canoes, which hold two to three paddlers, plus all necessary gear. An average day’s travel consists of 2-4 hours of paddling or hiking, depending on the ages and attention spans of the children participating. Expect 1-2 portages (short trail crossings) per paddling trip. Please note that the specific itinerary is subject to change based on weather, group size and ability level.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 40 F to 95 F. Rainfall can vary, but you should expect at least a day or two of rain.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 4 to 14 participants, plus 1 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. Wilderness Inquiry staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however, most people pitch in where they can.
ACCOMMODATIONS: At night you will sleep in a comfortable 4-person tent with 3-4 people per a tent (other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of a USDA Forest Service outhouse.
MEALS: The food we bring is plentiful, nutritious, and kid friendly! Enjoy hearty breakfasts, trail lunches, a variety of snacks, and delicious dinners with desserts. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group gear and equipment. You will be assigned the same gear for the duration of your trip and it will be sanitized between trips. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.
FISHING: Fishing is great in the Superior National Forest and BWCA! We suggest bringing your own fishing pole and tackle. Don’t forget a MN fishing license for anyone over the age of 16.
COVID POLICY: We continue to monitor and update our COVID-19 policies. Wilderness Inquiry strongly encourages everyone to be fully up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination and take other necessary steps for the health and wellness of all. We ask you to self-screen for any signs of illness prior to your trip’s departure. Please contact Wilderness Inquiry if you are exhibiting signs of illness. We will also continue to follow all guidance and requirements of locations that we travel, keeping in mind some international destinations do require vaccinations and/or negative covid tests. We will update this policy as new information and guidance becomes available.
SAFETY WHILE ON TRAIL: Though not required, some individuals may choose to wear a mask, and we expect all participants to respect this choice. Please ensure proper hygiene including, but not limited to, hand-washing and/or sanitizing before eating and after using the restroom. Individuals who become ill or test positive for COVID-19 during a Wilderness Inquiry experience will be isolated to the best of the group’s ability and are responsible for their own transportation and expenses to depart the trip.
GROUP EXPECTATIONS: To facilitate a safe and inclusive environment where we can all come together as our true selves, feel supported, and enjoy the outdoors in community, we have developed community agreements that align with Wilderness Inquiry’s core values and brand promise. We ask that you review these before your adventure so you can help Wilderness Inquiry create an inclusive environment for all.
Community Agreements as We Adventure Together
☐ We are safety conscious so everyone can have fun!
☐ We seek to understand each other and celebrate our differences.
☐ We are curious, open-minded, and communicate respectfully.
☐ We are open to trying new things and pushing outside of our comfort zone.
☐ We support each other and collectively contribute to group tasks.Read more »
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where do we meet?
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: Campground - TBD at 1:30 PM (local time)
End: Campground - TBD at 11:00 AM (local time)
This trip officially begins at 1:30 PM and ends at 11:00 AM at the same location. The campground location will be confirmed prior to the start of the trip. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for your trip. Booking a Flight? We recommend flying in to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport the night before your trip, and flying out from Minneapolis St Paul International Airport after 8:30 PM.
What is the minimum age for kids on your family trips?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a WI family trip. We require participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on water for safety. The smallest PFD we provide for children requires a minimum weight of 30 pounds. A family with a child smaller than this weight limit would need to provide their own PFD or would be unable to participate on the trip. For family paddling trips, children should be able to sit comfortably in a canoe or kayak for 1+ hour at a time. This should guide whether or not a child would be a good fit on any particular trip.
Do you have any additional health restrictions on trail?
In addition to following CDC guidelines, we work with a team of community and health experts to help guide our safety measures on and off the trail. Find a complete list of steps we are taking to provide you the safest experience here: https://www.wildernessinquiry.org/covid19/
Do you offer financial aid?
Yes - we believe the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors should be available to everyone. To keep our programs as financially accessible as possible, each year we raise funds to support need-based scholarships. Certain restrictions apply. Financial aid is available for a select number of trips only and typically not available for international trips. Click here to apply for financial aid. This website also shows a list of trips that are currently eligible for financial aid. Check back often, as this list is updated regularly! Call 612-676-9400 for more information.
Would my teenager enjoy a family trip with Wilderness Inquiry?
There are typically both teens and younger children on our family trips. We often offer a variety of activities so that participants of all ages have an enjoyable trip!
I have a child with a disability. Would a family trip be appropriate for them?
Yes. All of our trips strive to integrate persons with and without disabilities, including children on our family trips. Call us at 612-676-9400 if you have questions. Otherwise, you can register for a family trip, and we'll call you when we receive your information.
Will age-appropriate activities be offered for children on a family trip?
Yes. Your trip leaders will offer age-appropriate activities for children at different points throughout the trip. Our staff love kids and are great at making sure your whole family has a great time.
Do I need paddling experience to join a canoe or kayak trip?
Paddling trips with WI are appropriate for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike. On the first day of all trips, basic paddling strokes will be taught by the trip leader. Each trip gives participants multiple opportunities to practice their skills. Participants with more experience will have plenty of opportunity to paddle during the trip, and even to help teach less experienced paddlers!
How much portaging will I do on a Boundary Waters trip with Wilderness Inquiry?
The number and length of portages varies from trip to trip. Portage choices will be made by the Wilderness Inquiry trip leaders based on the strength of the group and specific route chosen within the Boundary Waters.
Which route will my group follow on a Boundary Waters trip with Wilderness Inquiry?
There are many different route choices available within the Boundary Waters. The route will be chosen by Wilderness Inquiry trip leaders based on availability and the strength of the group.
I heard the BWCA is threatened by mining. Where can I learn more about this issue?
The proposed sulfide-ore copper mining in northern Minnesota is a true threat to the BWCA. On our trips, you will get a chance to experience first hand why this pristine wilderness is worth the effort to save from the potential destruction of mining. Find more information on this issue at https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org
How do I portage on a Boundary Waters trip if I use a wheelchair?
Portages vary in length and terrain on BWCA trips. Some are flat and relatively easy, others are rugged up and down paths. Some start with a nice landing, others are rocky or swampy. We chose routes that have more accessible portages.
We can only accommodate manual wheelchairs on Boundary Waters trips, power chairs are typically too big and heavy to fit in our canoes.
If you can transfer independently in and out of a car and wheel around a hilly city park you should be able to portage with minimal assistance. If not, we have a variety of ways to assist you, including carrying you over difficult spots if necessary. If you will need help being carried, our upper weight limit is typically around 160 lbs. We recommend you call our office to discuss.
Over the last 40 years, Wilderness Inquiry has successfully served well over 1,000 people who use wheelchairs in the Boundary Waters. So while portaging may seem a bit daunting, we always figure it out and have fun while doing it.