It has been several years since I've portaged from the Wawiag River to Belaire Lake and then to McKenzie Lake, but the three times we've done it we've enjoyed it.
The portage from the Wawiag to Belaire is difficult in that it is long and a swamp exists in the middle of it. The last time we were there, 2005, the swamp was drained and we were able to walk across it, but the other times we had to paddle, pole, push, and pull our way across it. It can be quite an effort.
We camped on Belaire Lake one night and it's a fine lake, no problems with water quality. I've been told there is some good walleye fishing on the lake too. The campsite we used was very close to the portage to the Wawiag, though it is seldom used. I believe there is also another campsite on the lake.
The portage from Belaire to McKenzie is about 1 mile in length. It starts with a tough uphill climb, but then opens up onto an old logging road, though it is probably pretty grown over now.
Once you exit the logging road the final quarter mile of the portage can be a little mucky, but it's not terrible. One year the portage trail disappeared and we had to bull our way through about 20 yards of brush to get to McKenzie.
The two portages are tough, but my visits to the Wawiag River and the lakes Belaire and McKenzie have always been fun.
Here's a trip report with some pics for you of that portage route. There have been reports of a new portage being blazed from Belaire to the Wawiag. I read someone followed it for a ways and then is ended. I haven't heard if it was ever completed. I suggest you contact the Quetico officials for current info. I've never read a fishing report for Belaire so if you go please report on your results.
quote Bushwacker: "Here's a trip report with some pics for you of that portage route. There have been reports of a new portage being blazed from Belaire to the Wawiag. I read someone followed it for a ways and then is ended. I haven't heard if it was ever completed. I suggest you contact the Quetico officials for current info. I've never read a fishing report for Belaire so if you go please report on your results.
I enjoyed reading your trip report. We went through there in September that year and the water was quite low. I'm assuming a beaver dam had given way and drained the swamp, but during your spring trip it must have been still quite mucky trying to walk through that swamp. Our trip across was pretty dry with just a few soft spots, lots of uneven ground, tall grass, and little itty-bitty creek to step across just before the end of the swamp.
quote kanoes: "johno, you dont post enough. was fun talking with you at cache bay." Hi Jan, I'll get right on the not posting enough problem! :-)
Though I usually only post when I've got good knowledge of a question that has been asked and few people have already answered.
I must admit that I've been visiting this site quite a bit more since AdamXChicago and I figured out we live within a few miles of each other, and he has a canoe and likes to paddle one of the local lakes, Lake Hodges. It's nice to get out onto a fairly large lake and paddle the shoreline, listening to the birds, telling each other our canoeing stories, and enjoying the scenery just like I do in the Boundary Waters. But when we get to the easternmost tip of Lake Hodges there's something just not quite right when we do all of this accompanied by the sounds of the I-15 southern California traffic screaming by over our heads as we paddle underneath the freeway bridge. Oh well, it keeps both of us stoked about heading north for some real paddling!