The Angleworm Trail is a relatively easy overnight backpacking trip in the BWCA.
Depending on which source you trust, the hike is somewhere between 12-16 miles. Like the Sioux-Hustler Trail, this is a lollipop loop with a stem that leads to the loop part of the hike.
I hiked this with my friends Eagle Eye, Hot Beef, and Anna. Our friend Christy hiked half of it with us and then took off on her own to finish the entire loop in a day.
Dayhiking this trail is absolutely possible, assuming you know your pace and that the trail hasn’t been recently hit by a storm. We met several runners doing the loop as a day outing. However, the campsites are awesome, so I’d encourage hikers to enjoy it as an overnight hike.
August 25 & 26, 2018
We left the Angleworm trailhead in mid-morning under clear skies and with high spirits. My backpack was much heavier than it usually is for an overnight trip. It took about an hour and a half to make it to the junction of the stem and the loop. We chose to hike this trail clockwise and so we turned to our left.
Because we had two whole days to go the short distance, the pace was relaxed. We took the time to sit down at comfortable-looking locations and to marvel at large trees, rock outcroppings, and keep a steady stream of stories and laughter flowing.
For our second sit-down break, I revealed why my pack was so heavy. We sliced up the watermelon and managed to consume it all. The rinds I carried out by carefully double-bagging them.
The Angleworm is a quietly beautiful trail. Stretches of rock like this are what stand out in my memory, though I don’t think there was an exceptional amount of rock. It’s typical Boundary Waters beauty. Although we were hiking alongside Angleworm Lake for the majority of the morning and afternoon, we only got a handful of good looks at it– it was usually hidden partially by trees off to the east.
After five or so hours of hiking, we arrived at Home Lake where a giant slab of rock invited us to lay down and take an extended break. This lake is at the top of the loop — from here, we’d be turning south and aiming for Whiskey Jack Lake where we’d been told there was a very tiny campsite. This campsite did not show up on my map, but it was on another map someone had.
From Home Lake we followed a partial rock-trail.
And modest but charming views!
Arriving at Whiskey Jack Campsite was very exciting and relieving: we knew the site was very small, and if it had been occupied, there were no nearby sites to retreat to. But it was empty!
And the lake was lovely. It’s very challenging to get to Whiskey Jack with a canoe. This is a site best reached by foot.
Sunset was pretty great. This was possibly the best swim I’ve ever had in the BWCA.
We awoke to continued good weather and set off with roughly six miles to get back to the car. Here are some “average” pictures of the Angleworm:
We had one really un-average thing to cross this day: the trail’s biggest beaver dam. This trail, unlike some other BWCA trails that shall go nameless, rarely relies on beaver dam crossings, but when they do rely on them, by God, they really rely on them! This thing is amazing!
By this time we were paralleling Angleworm Lake again, this time heading south and getting ready to turn west to close the loop and head back to the car. Here’s a view of Angleworm we enjoyed:
As usual, “real food” in Ely called us back to civilization although we’d only left the parking lot 30 hours earlier.
There may be no better introduction to BWCA hiking than this gem of a trail. Highly recommended.
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