Originally Posted by Beast 71
There are some hiking trails in the bwca, but I've always paddled. The two trails that come to mind are the Pow wow and Eagle mountain trails, but I've heard that they aren't used enough to be easily followed.
The Powwow and the Sioux-Hustler Trail are two of the longer trails, though not for someone who isn't comfortable with route finding and map reading. Ditto for the Kekekabic Trail that traverses the BWCA east-west (if it's not closed for fire risk, etc.). There are other, shorter hiking trails as well (e.g. Angleworm Trail). The Border Route Trail also goes east-west and you'll need maps/compass skills for this area as well. The basic problem with trails is that they are all maintained and kept clear by volunteer organizations like the Friends of the BWCA. There is little-to-no USDA/Forest Service budget for trail maintenance in this area.
The real glory of the BWCA is canoe travel. Most guide services are in business to offer everything from a full service guided trip all the way down to some route advice. Most of my trips I have used a guide service to get my permits, rent a canoe (big Kevlar tripping canoe, e.g. Winona Minnesota II) and get a "tow" (motorboat ride) to my entry point.
If I were you, I'd get on the phone to a couple or three, talk to them and get a sense for who you'd want to work with. Here are a couple of possibilities. I tend to base my trips out of Ely. For that area, here are some suggestions. The local forest service offices (Ely or Tofte or Grand Marais) will also have some good advice. Private outfitters I'd recommend are:
1. Jason at Ely Outfitting (aka Boundary Waters Guide Services), 218-343-7951.
2. Piragis Northwoods Company @ 800-223-6565 (Bert or Drew).
FWIW, the same outfitters can help with trips to the BWCA's "sister" park across the Canadian border, the Quetico Provincial Park. I actually prefer the Quetico (smaller crowds, less fishing pressure, less "developed"). The Quetico has fewer permits available, though, and it's a bit more expensive fee-wise.
Weather wise you'll be good as far as temperatures go, though be prepared for mosquitoes and rain. Ticks can be a problem, but you're likely to avoid the worst of that by going around the end of June.