The Boundary Waters  isn’t just for boating: There are also many hiking trails, including short, easy trails on the edge of the wilderness and long-distance treks through its heart. Remember that hikers and backpackers are subject to the same permit and quota system as boaters.
These rugged and remote routes have downed trees, beaver dam crossings, streams to wade, and other challenges, so they are not for inexperienced hikers. Though the trails are marked, a topographic map and compass are essential. Campsites are spread out along each of them.
The Kekekabic Trail runs 38 gently rolling miles across the heart of the Boundary Waters from the end of County Highway 18 east of Ely  to the end of County Highway 12 (the Gunflint Trail ) west of Grand Marais . This trail was constructed in the 1930s for firefighting access and left abandoned until the Kekekabic Trail Club (www.kek.org ) formed in 1989 to reclaim the route for recreation, though this is such a remote route that maintenance is still only intermittent.
The Snowbank Trail is an easier 24-mile loop that starts out along the east end of “The Kek” and then heads north around its namesake lake, passing many more lakes along the way. It is an exceptionally scenic route with mature pine stands, shoreline bluffs, and some hilltop overlooks at the north end.
The Old Pines Trail is a similarly beautiful S-curve off the east end that, with a return along the Kekekabic, can be added on to Snowbank to double the mileage.
As the name suggests, the Border Route Trail sticks close to Canada for most of its 75 miles. The fairly difficult route runs along the north side of County Highway 12 (the Gunflint Trail), with over half of that passing through the BWCAW. Besides the river and lake scenery—some of the Boundary Waters ’ best—there are many rock ledges and stands of old-growth pine along the way. The BRT connects to the Superior Hiking Trail  at the east end, and the Magnetic Rock Trail can be used as a connector with the Kek, leaving just about a quarter-mile road walk: The section follows the route of the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Two other abandoned trails revived by the Kekekabic Trail Club are the 29-mile Pow-Wow Trail and the 32-mile Sioux-Hustler Trail, both very rugged and seldom-followed loops. Pow-Wow passes though prime moose and wolf habitat and features many old-growth pines. The trailhead is 17 miles north of Isabella on Forest Road 377. Sioux-Hustler originates 29 miles east of Orr  on County Highway 116 near the Forest Service’s Lake Jeanette Campground and is noted for the many granite outcrops along it. It is the only long-distance trail not affected by the blowdown .
Generally a backpacking trip, the rugged and sometimes challenging Angleworm Trail can be hiked in a day if you get an early start. The 14-mile loop around Angleworm and other lakes passes ridge-top overlooks and mature red and white pine stands, plus moose are often spotted in the Home Lake area. There are nine lakeside campsites, and this is a relatively popular winter camping destination. The trailhead is 17 miles northwest of Ely  on County Highway 116 (the Echo Trail).
All the way up by Crane Lake is the 15-mile Herriman Lake Trail with various loops linking four lakes. Less than half a mile down the trail, before entering the BWCAW, is a picnic site on the Echo River. Further in, on various hilly branches, you will find three lakeside campsites, a sandy beach, and many scenic overlooks. Herriman and Knute Lakes are good fall-color destinations.
It’s a seven-mile round-trip to Minnesota ’s highest point along the Eagle Mountain Trail. Most of the hike is pretty easy, though it’s fairly rugged and strenuous over the last half mile to the endless views atop the 2,301-foot granite summit. The trailhead is on Forest Road 170, 17 miles northwest of Grand Marais .
The six-mile Brule Lake Trail is a little-used alternate route to the summit starting to the west on Forest Road 326. There are two campsites on Whale Lake right below the hill.
All other area trails lie along County Highway 12 (the Gunflint Trail ). The Daniels Lake Trail is an easy 1.5-mile round-trip stroll from near the end of County Highway 66 to the shore of its namesake lake.
Much more challenging is the 3.5-mile Caribou Rock Trail, starting two miles up County Highway 65. Within the first 0.75 mile, you’ll get beautiful overlooks of West Bearskin and Moss Lakes before entering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness  and passing more lakes and a handful of campsites. Both of these trails link up with the Border Route Trail.