Janet R.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Aug. 7, 2020

Smiling Joe Canoe Campsite

Note, the full name of this campsite should be Smiling Joe Canoe Campsite, one of the many Headwaters canoe campsites in the Mississippi River Water trail. You will see it noted as such on the water trail map for the Cass Lake to Vermilion River segment on the DNR water trail website.

Although certainly a decent location for a canoe campsite, I would not recommend staying here. The road access from the nearby Forest Service road is not marked, nor is the access from the river marked with the usual canoe campsite marker. So, if you can find it, and can manage the mucky access to pull off the river, then you will have a decent place to put up a tent, but that is it. No shelter, no table, no fire grate, no water, no outhouse. It also appears to be a party spot for locals who know the road access even though its unmarked. If you have a choice, stop upstream at The USFS Knutson Dam campsite, or go downstream to the Winnie USFS campground by the river inlet. Alternatively, there is a private campground at Beckers Resort just before you get to Winnie. Beckers caters to those who want a cabin vacation, but they do also have tent sites by the river for paddlers. Smiling Joe campsite is barely adequate and probably for last resort use if on the river.

  • Access road is unmarked, and in sorry shape! But locals still find there way in to use it as a party spot
  • Beautiful view of the river is one of the few saving graces!
  • No fire grate, not even a stone fire ring, just traces of previous camper fires
  • stump marks the river access spot, but it is marshy and a bit  tricky
  • If attempting road access, go east from Knudson Dam on Smurler-West Winnie  Rd, aka FS Rd 2167, it will be a little unmarked dirt road on the left about 3/4 mile east of the turnoff to FR Rd 2169
  • tent site near canoe access to river
  • Access is marked by stumps, by official water trail Canoe Campsite sign is missing

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