Shire in the Woods
Welcome to the Shire in the Woods where the natural surroundings will nourish and rejuvenate your soul!
Located 18 miles east of northern Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, we are tucked away inside the heart of the Solana State Forest and have the Soo Line South Trail running right alongside us. Relax with a good book in front of a fireplace or take a stroll in the beautiful woods. The Shire can serve your family, friends, hold your next retreat, facilitate special groups, workshops, and meetings, host a wedding, and more! No matter where you are at in your writing practice, the natural beauty and tranquility of the Shire is perfect for a writers retreat. The outdoors and especially the circle drive would be great for demonstrations with horses for example, or you can come and just be a hermit! Whatever your event or occasion, we will work with you to best serve your needs.
Our private, wooded retreat has seven, year round dwellings and more. There are four smaller cabins, the Cedar House, the Tree Lodge, a community space and library in the Octagon, a screened in gazebo, a wood burning sauna, 5 miles of groomed trails, a rose garden, a labyrinth, a beaver pond, a frog and turtle pond, tree swings and hammock, outdoor fire pits, indoor fireplaces, access to the Soo Line Trail, access to many miles of trails in the Solana State Forest, and much more including our horses, a miniature donkey, and a miniature horse. As a guest, you can experience their antics and social systems, pet them, and with prior arrangements have guided interactions or feed them treats.
Create your adventure at the Shire! There are many things to do in and around the Shire. Enjoy wooded solitude on the private trails or hike in the Solana State Forest, meditate while walking the Labyrinth, spend time around a campfire, read or relax in front of a fireplace, play catch with Frisbees or partake in other games on one of our many groomed lawns, star gaze or moon watch, use the telescope in the gazebo, interact with the horses, cross country ski or snowshoe on our private or surrounding trails, yoga in the Octagon, rock/agate hunt or swim in the nearby spring fed Quarry Pool, ride bikes in the woods or other trails, horseback ride on the Soo Line trail or Solana State Forest Trails with your horses, snowmobile or go ATVing on the Soo Line Trail or the Solana State Forest Trail*, spend time in the Pliny Wildlife Area or Ruffed Gross and Woodcock Habitat Area, plan your next birding or photography adventure, or just enjoy the sounds of nature as the many frogs, owls, wolves, and birds vocalize and sing their songs.
*We seek to maintain a quiet and peaceful atmosphere at the Shire for all of the guests. Please call for details.
The Shire in the Woods was formerly known as the Dwelling in the Woods. It was founded in 1989 by three Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet with a vision of creating a place where people can spend time quieting the mind and opening the heart and spirit. They recognized the need for individuals living in a modern, fast paced society to be able to retreat to a quiet, nurturing place, thus replenishing the soul and deepening their connection with self, nature, each other, and the universe.
They decided to trust the thoughts that came to mind and to follow their spirit. This led them to a friend, whom they asked to help them raise the funds to create the Dwelling. He didn’t care too much for asking people for money but offered to purchase the land when they found a suitable place. They settled upon 120 acres with a small log house, pole barn, and a wood burning sauna.
Now, over 25 years later, the grounds have expanded considerably. Many hands have helped build and create these unique buildings and versatile landscape. In 2013 the property was purchased and has now become the Shire in the Woods. A special place, with the look and feel of a Tolkien inspired landscape, now located in Middle Minnesota!
The Meadows has 2 single beds (like a trundle bed) in front of the fireplace in a one story layout.
The Loft has 2 single beds in a shared space on the upper level.
The Birches has 2 single beds in a shared space on the upper level, and a queen size futon on the lower level in front of the fireplace.
The Woodlands has a queen size bed in a one story layout.
The Octagon has 5 single beds with three bedrooms on the upper level and one bedroom on the lower level.
The Tree Lodge has 5 single beds in three separate rooms on the second floor, and a full size bed on the lower level.
The Cedar House has 4 single beds in the loft, a queen size futon in front of the fireplace, a single bed and a lofted bed in one bedroom, and 2 full size beds in two separate bedrooms.
Wi-Fi/internet is available in all cabins.
All cottages are equipped with wood burning fireplaces, and firewood is provided with your stay.
Air conditioning is available in every cottage.
All except the Octagon have screened in porches.
All have refrigerators with freezers, cooktops, croc pots, microwaves, coffee makers, tea kettles, toaster ovens, ceiling fans, floor or table fans, and outdoor grills.
All cottages are equipped with household utensils, dishes, bedding, towels, wash cloths, candles, bird seed, fire starters, matches, paper, pens, a journal, flashlights and basic needs such as coffee (regular and decaf), sugar, tea, creamer, olive oil, honey, oatmeal, maple syrup, candy, etc.
Venue Location + Transportation
McGrath, Minnesota 56350