Boundary Waters and Lake Superior Canoe and Kayak Navigation Class


We offer two canoe and kayak navigation courses. The first is a short two-hour classroom based workshop that teaches the basics of kayak and canoe navigation. In the second class, we travel into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to learn navigation from the seat of a kayak.

Classroom Based Canoe and Kayak Navigation Class

A two-hour land based navigation class designed to teach you the basics of small craft, canoe and kayak map and compass navigation relevant to traveling on Lake Superior or in the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA). The emphasis is on the practical instead of memorizing terms. This is a good class for learning navigation and brushing up on navigation before you head out on your trip. Don’t get lost in the woods!

During the class, you’ll learn about: the parts of a compass, how to find north, what deviation is and how to avoid it, variation and declination, taking a bearing, plotting a course, how to read charts and maps, piloting to find your way, ranges, fixes, triangulating and more.

Course outline: Navigation Class Outline

On-the-water Practical Kayak Navigation Class

After taking the classroom navigation class, the next step is to put it into practice on a tricky body of water. We’ll travel into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on a day trip to Brule Lake or Seagull Lake. Both lakes offers plenty of islands, inlets, headlands and bays to navigate around. We’ll spend the day plotting courses, following headings, piloting, traveling by dead reckoning and practicing ferrying if winds allow it. We’ll also practice getting fixes, finding ranges, triangulating your position, and you’ll spend lots of time working with maps. By the end of the day, you’ll have a handle of navigating in a complex marine environment. Plus, you’ll get to experience one of the best lakes in the BWCA.

During our lunch break, we’ll use charts of Lake Superior to plot a kayak camping course into the Sauna Islands, Apostle Islands or Isle Royale. This exercise will help you plan your own trips on Lake Superior.

What to Bring

For this canoe and kayak navigation class, all you need to bring is a simple baseplate compass. Bring a notebook and a pencil to take notes. Compasses may be purchased at the Lake Superior Trading Post.

Example Compass


Two-hour Classroom Rates

1 person: $125
2 people: $100 per person
3 people: $80 per person
4 people: $70 per person
5 to 10 people: $60 per person

On-the-water Practical Rates

2 to 5 people: $150 per person

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