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Trip Reports, Campsite Reviews & More

Trip Reports, Campsites & More

Brule Lake

August 2023 - spotlight lake
Map courtesy of Jeff’s Maps

Brule Lake is a mid sized lake just north of Canoe Lake. Like Canoe, it’s a lake that’s steeped in the history of the area. There was a small village and train station located on the north shore in the early 20th century and for a time the lake was home to a number of year round residents. Once the Brule lumber mill closed, the village disappeared, leaving behind a few remnants and some interesting stories. These days, Brule is home to one or two cottage leases and a couple of campsites. It’s also a pretty lake to visit and our spotlight lake for the month.

Brule is a solid half to full day paddle from the nearest access point, Canoe Lake (#5).  It’s 15 KM to the northwest of the permit office, and the most direct route will take you up Potter Creek and through Potter Lake. Getting there can be an exercise in frustration (and a frustrating exercise) if water levels are low on Potter Creek, but for the most part it’s an easy to moderate trip up.

There are two sites on Brule, both of which are on the southern side of the lake (I expect they’re both on the south side because Brule’s cottage lease is on the north shore). I’ve stayed on one of these sites (site 1 in the campsite archive), and I can safely say that if I ever stay on Brule again, I’ll be staying on Site 2. Site 1 is a small bump of rock just up from the Potter Lake portage. It’s located right where the lake starts to widen out on the west shore (essentially Brule Lake is just a very large waystation on Potter Creek) and as a result it feels like you’re camping on a creek as much as a lake. It’s not a terribly level site, there’s flat ground for two tents, at best, and otherwise you’re climbing up and down a small hill to get from the water to the fire pit and tent area. On the plus side, the view up Brule is awesome.

Home for the night.
Early morning on Brule

I’ve never actually visited Site 2. A couple of years ago I had a choice between both sites and my first impression of Site 2 as I was paddling past was that it would be a poor option. From the water, the campsite sign looks like it’s beside a little hole in the shoreline and not much else. It seemed like it would feel very enclosed. What I didn’t realize as I was going by, but figured out as soon as I saw where another group ended up setting up their tents, is that the site itself is not where the campsite sign is located; that’s just the canoe take out. The site is about thirty or forty feet above the lake, at the top of a cliff. And it looks awesome. It’s got great westward views across Brule and, at least from what I could see from my increasingly envious perch on site 1, gets fantastic evening sun.

Brule Lake
Sunset Paddle on Brule
Brule, North Shore

Brule itself is something of a crossroads lake. You can leave it in all four directions. To the north you head up to Lily Pond and, after a 2 KM low maintenance portage, Cranebill Lake. To the east there are a couple of smaller lakes and mid-sized portages before you get to McIntosh Lake. To the South you’ve got Potter Lake, a 700 meter carry along the access road that runs along Brule and Potter’s western shore. Finally, to the west, Potter Creek continues for a kilometer or so before ending at Brown’s Falls and the portage over to Furrow Lake. Brown’s Falls is quite nice, and would be worth a day trip if you were staying on Brule for a couple of nights. According to Jeff’s Map, the falls were a popular destination for the people living on Brule back when the town was a going concern.

The portage to Lily Pond

Brule is also interesting for the variety of terrains around it. As I mentioned a moment ago, the west side is bounded by an access road. To the north, where the portage up to Lily Pond joins up with that road, is a grassy cleared area that was once the site of the town. The eastern side is more typically Algonquin, with evergreen forest and some decent elevation. Finally, there’s a quiet bay just south of the portage over to Rosswood that looks tailor made for a moose sighting (or for a moose to sight you I guess). All in all, there’s a fair amount to see on Brule and if you’re heading up that way it’s well worth a visit (especially if you’re trying to decide between staying on it and Potter Lake).



Spotlight lakes are featured in each issue of The Thunderbox. If you want to get each month’s lake hot off the presses, feel free to add your email in the box below. You’ll receive the monthly Thunderbox update and trip reports as they are published.

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