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!
Warm hospitality awaits you in the woods!
Also Remember to look at our Facebook page for daily updates and more pictures!
Are you and your significant other recently engaged? Are you looking for locations to hold your upcoming wedding? The Shire awaits you! Shire in the Woods offers a beautiful wedding venue, filled with green scenery and unique landscapes. Guests from out of town can conveniently stay right on the property at one of our seven lodging options and enjoy many nearby activities while waiting for the big day. You and your spouse can exchange vows right in the gazebo or near our beautiful rose garden. There are many possibilities for a wedding at Shire in the Woods. Call us today and let us know what you are looking for. We can help guide you in planning your dream wedding.
Guest Comments & Experiences BELOW
"I am spending my first weekend at the Shire… I’ve been on the lookout for a place to escape the craziness of Minneapolis and know that I’ve found it. The charm of the cabins, owners, forest and all surroundings can’t be matched. I spent an entire weekend doing nothing and loved every minute of it. I hope more get to enjoy this “gem in the middle of nowhere." -Steve
"I have had a lovely weekend in the silence that surrounds this cabin. I’ve slept, built fires, stared out the window, read and I’ve written in my journal. I fell asleep at night looking at the stars through the window above the bed. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay three more nights! Thank you for being stewards and giving people the opportunity to experience “a little bit of heaven on earth”." -Meridel
“While many places may offer hot tubs, workout rooms, or ice machines to their guests, the Shire in the Woods offers birdseed, toothpicks, and Afghans. This is my kind of place.” -Thomas
“Thank you for providing a wonderful, peaceful place for us to enjoy! The setting helped me re-acclimate to the change of seasons with happiness instead of dread and was also the perfect place and time to get to know my partner better. Love and Peacefulness grow at the Shire. Thanks.” -Sarah
“Thank you, Shire in the Woods, for providing a beautiful place of retreat, quiet and sacredness. Gorgeous surroundings and the trails are so well marked.” -Linda
“Enjoyed our stay in the Meadows. Everything needed for a few days away from the hustle and bustle of city life was here. Very peaceful and quiet. Beautiful starry nights, sunlit days. Just right for days of contemplation and rejuvenation. We will be back.” -Chris and Roger
"Thank you for this beautiful solitude and such a warm welcome. The ambiance and peaceful nature of this retreat is worth every penny and is healing unto itself. Keep up the good work."
"My first trip here was 8 – 10 years ago when it was the Dwelling. I found it peaceful, calming and healing. This round, I simply was looking for solitude, nature and time to relax, which is what I found. I liked my time in the Octagon reading and relaxing. Even though others were here, I rarely saw anyone. What an incredible gift." -Lori
“The Hobbit - The unexpected journey... The Shire in the Woods... expected, planned journey. My first trip here was maybe 8-10 years ago. I found it peaceful, calming and healing. I know that is what I needed at that time in my life. This round, I simply was looking for solitude, nature and time to relax, which is what I found...fire in the wood burning stove, snowshoeing, hikes, a trip to see the white tailed deer at Father Hennepin State Park, squirrels and chickadees and peace.” -Lori
"It was comforting to pull up and see the Loft again. It had been 3 years. I had searched online for the Dwelling and it seemed to have disappeared. Then, a few months ago, I searched again and there was the Shire in the Woods. It was back – new name, same place. I am thrilled. I now have my place back – where I go to get clear, reconnect with myself and nature and rejuvenate. Best of success here. Namaste." -Nikki
“24 hours of peace, nature wrapped in the cozy walls of the Loft. Listening to the rain, roaring fire in the stove, letting the magic of the place seep into me. Listening to the world wake up and the coffee brew - the deep green that stretches out all around. I feel restored, renewed and ready to return to life outside this magical place.” Jennifer
“Thank you for providing a spiritual haven to me over the past week. I badly needed a retreat to rest, relax and be quiet for a time, and this was the perfect venue for it. I can appreciate how much time and care you place into running this place. Thank you.” Light and Love, Erin
“Arrived after fighting the north Metro traffic which added an hour to my trip. Found a warm smile and gentle greeting. Have already fallen in love with the Loft... perfectly nun-sized. Awoke naturally to sunlight and bird song. Finished several projects. Fully rested and wonderfully productive at the same time. I will return.” -Sister Laurie
“Arrived with my mom. We walked on the wooded paths. We enjoyed watching a red squirrel eat the bird seed we put out. Every once in a while, a bird came too. The whole place is beautiful. Enjoyed our stay.” -Erika & Jennifer
“Thank you so much for a wonderful stay. I was looking for a place to get away with God, and the Shire in the Woods is the perfect place. I leave feeling very refreshed.” -Cierra
“We had a wonderful stay here in the Loft. Thank you for letting us bring our bird dog because she had an awesome time too. We will be back next year to try another cabin and would love to get up here in the winter to sit in front of the fire.” -Lou, Steph and Ellie
“When I am walking, I am ancient. I am touching the earth softly and doing no harm. On the trail the veil is thin.” -Sanchia
“Such a cute little place this is! Wonderful windows to watch nature and just enough room to relax and rejuvenate my soul. Thanks.” -Liz
“I am a new mom, newish wife, artist, professor, colleague, friend, daughter, sister... I came here to let all of these identities melt away for a few days. In this quiet space, I have been able to just be "me". Thank you for this wonderful experience. I will be back.” -Megan
“Thank you for your commitment and hard work to provide peaceful solitude in such comfort and charm. I needed a few days away and now I'm ready to go back. Everything was perfect. With gratitude.” -Kate
“My son (3 yrs.) and I spent just one night here, but it was very enjoyable and rejuvenating. The wood stove kept us plenty warm. My son enjoyed exploring the spiral staircase, building a fire, cooking and exploring the woods around the cabin. I appreciated the cleanliness and craftsmanship of the cabin and the intentionality of the staff towards giving guests a pleasant visit. Thank you. I hope to visit again for a longer stay.” -Ricardo & Manalo
"We came here for one purpose and that was to get away, to disconnect from all of life’s advantages, to go back to a much simpler time and that is truly what this place is about. To sit and do nothing can be the most peaceful thing you can do, or take a walk or look at the trees – anything to get away. I am only 15 years old but I sure had fun just unwinding and I am sure you will too." -Riley
"Such a beautiful and peaceful place. I came to write, listen and be. All were accomplished in this cozy space. My favorite – the sun shining on the birch trees against the deep blue sky. Breathtaking!" -Lee Ann
“Peaceful - the solitude is good for the soul.” John
“Peaceful here! Birds chirping, frogs croaking, trillium and wild strawberries blooming. Beautiful.” Susie
“A perfect getaway from the bustle of the cities. Loved staying in the Birches - what a cute, well-executed dwelling. Very enjoyable stay.” Rob and Cindy
“The practice for the wedding was sooo much fun. Can't wait to see what the Main Event will be like. In the AM one must meditate with the bride and groom in the Labyrinth. Embrace every moment with its full joy potential. Embrace the smiles and the magical happy power of the Shire.” Laurence
“Joyous day at the Shire. Two families uniting as one! Great times with great people. Life is good.” Tyler
“What a peaceful weekend as the summer comes to an end and fall begins. We hope to come back as the leaves turn and the air cools. This place is a wonderful retreat, be it spring, summer, fall or winter!” Nikki and Ly
“Peaceful, healing... Thank you for my guided walk in the woods and dear Patch has touched my heart. I felt welcomed the moment I drove onto the property. Time here has been a treasured gift.” Barb
“Loved the Birches. Favorite of all the cabins. Upstairs is cute, lovely spiral staircase and great couch/futon. Enjoyed looking at my grove of birch trees daily and watching the changes. What a wonderful time I had relaxing and taking time for self-reflection.” Liz
“We had a great time in this cozy cottage with such lovely views. On our hike we saw a very large Barred Owl. We also were amazed at the variety of lichen and the woodpecker holes in the trees. It has been 10 years since my last visit. It won't be another 10 years till I return to this magical spot. Thank you.” Deana & Sharon
"This past week is exactly what we needed…a week of nothing to get done except make coffee, wear pajamas and enjoy each other’s company. We felt surprisingly at home in our tiny cabin in the woods. Sad to leave but excited to see your son again and truly blessed to have stayed here this past week." -Travis & Alexandra
“Thank you to the keepers of the Shire in the Woods. This is a wonderful place to just get away from it all and relax. The morning sunrises were an excellent greeting to each day when viewed through the two massive windows. I am glad I discovered this place and will definitely be back.” Jonathan
“Third times a charm! After being sidetracked by illness and icy roads on our first two attempts we finally made it - and how worth the wait it has been. From the friendly welcome to the peaceful silence of the woods, to the coziest cabin imaginable - this has been everything we had hoped for, and more. So tempted to keep this special place a secret to ourselves but afraid we won't be able to resist spreading the word. Thank you and we will be back.” Kevin & Michaela
“I was beyond thrilled to find this special place open again under new management. I took daily walks with my furry pup Callie (thank you so much for allowing dogs) and read and napped to my heart's content. So lovely and quaint was this cabin. I hope you find much success.” -Kristin
“When we pulled into the driveway your wife greeted us with warmth and respect. At that moment we already felt like this was home. All the little touches you and your staff have put into these cabins say welcome to all that enter these doors.” -Bob & Alina
“This was my first hermitage and I’m so glad I came here for the experience. The cabin has all the comforts of home, and it helped me to settle, relax and focus on what I came here to do - tune into myself. I enjoyed hiking in the woods, doing yoga, and walking the labyrinth. Thank you for offering such a beautiful & peaceful place.” -Shona
“It is fitting that the last words I write this week of my personal writing retreat are words of gratitude and thanks for my week of quiet and privacy. What a beautiful place here at the Shire.” -LuAnn
“Time out, silence, and peace. Found myself again. The houses carry an energy of inner peace.” -Barbara
“Even though my visit was short I thoroughly enjoyed sitting by the beaver pond, hiking the back trails, walking the labyrinth and watching the thunder and lightning show. Each time is different and each time is better, if indeed that is possible.” -Judy
“I came here to get away from it all and everybody to rejuvenate my soul and the Woodlands helped me do just that. It is absolutely gorgeous back here and I loved watching the trees turn. What a cute, humble cabin, just what I was looking for - beauty, peace and magic.” -Liz
“Being by myself in the stillness of this place was wonderful for body and soul. Walking the trails alone with my own meditative thoughts gave me real peace. A beautiful place to be in the presence of God.” -Jim
"A beautiful winter getaway. We found peace and rest here in the woods. The trees were perfect and the forest enchanting..." -Gus & Maria
"Thank you for providing this sanctuary. The peace and gentleness of the forest nurtured us." -Lynne and Mary
“The Tree lodge is a wonderful, rustic place where mankind and nature find solace together. We are grateful for our time here. The Shire is truly a gem of the woods and we will be back.” -Maria and Jos
“The Shire is amazing. We were impressed with how wonderful this cabin was. A true gem hidden in the Shire. We had fires, walked the trails, visited the horses and had some great conversations with Michael. The Shire gained 4 new customers/visitors/friends. We are already planning more trips here. Thanks for the awesome memories.” -Marie, Joseph, Jen & B
“We can tell that the Shire has been a place of peace, refuge, and restoration for many - the air radiates it everywhere you go. Our marriage experienced so much healing and peacefulness while we were here we are grateful for the chance to speak from your hearts and to calm our souls. Thanks so much. It's been magical.” -Tyler & Sophia
“We spent two wonderful days away from our rat race life and enjoyed walks in the woods, a fire, the voices of Mother Nature through the trees, the full moon, the solitude and good food. Even our car was grateful for a rest. While we aren't ready to go back, family and work beckon. Thanks.” -Doug & Tina
“We took a lot of pictures but, alas, we cannot capture the true beauty, scents, and sounds of the woods. The song that is inside us all. Thank you. Our laughter echoes in the forest.” -Vicki, Lisa, Judy, Cathy and Gretchen
“What a beautiful place to spend the holiday. We give thanks that you have preserved this lovely space and maintained it well. It has been added to our list of what and who we are thankful for.” -Georgia
"You may never know the difference that was made in the world out of your providing us this space to enjoy and use in the service of spiritual awakening and transformation – the ripples will echo outward for generations to come." -A
"What a great place for a men’s retreat. Great space….warm hearts. Thanks." -Steve
“Hi! Thanks! I couldn't imagine a more perfect and pristine setting for a moment in my life. You all have done a wonderful job maintaining your land for a wonderful retreat.” -Bradley
“I really enjoyed my visit to your beautiful space. It's a great joy to feel the energy of a space where nature and all forms of life are loved and nurtured. We will definitely be back.” -Talina
“What a beautiful space! The quiet was so needed.” -Lisa
"My first visit was over 15 years ago, before the main building was built. The property may have changed slightly but the peace and tranquility of the woods remains. I was happy to meet Mike who is an amazing presence. He and his staff are to be commended for maintaining this space for past Dwelling Hermits like myself, and future generations like my son, to enjoy for years to come. " -Jennifer
"We admire the Shire. So quiet and serene. Snowshoeing, hikes with our friends and Ziggy (our cockapoo), hours by those amazing and hypnotic fires, and delicious food. Each building on the property has its own charm. So happy we found you so we could enjoy the “off the grid” Christmas of 2013!" -Scott and Maria
"The Shire in the Woods is the perfect place for the grand finale for the International Humphrey Fellows at the U. of M. Law School. We shared experiences and had fun hiking in the snow and snowshoeing. Many thanks." -Kristin
“I've been on many class trips but this was by far the best for me. Thank you for keeping this place so clean and welcoming for all of us. Very nice feng shui.” -Malyasia
“The moment I saw the place, I fell in love with it and started to make plans of coming back, this time with my family in the summer.” -Warhan
“Thank you so much for hosting us. This has been a wonderful journey, the place, the nature, everything was just perfect.” -Ghaola Sabbagh from Lebanon
“The Shire in the Woods is as peaceful as it was announced on the website. My group and I enjoyed every single moment we spent here. Loads of gratitude.” -Sheg from West Africa
“Thank you so much for your commitment to this sacred place. It has been a very uplifting and healing weekend on so many levels.” -Lucy
“The energy here feels very good, warm, and comfortable. Thank you for the work required to keep this place running smoothly. We enjoyed our family women's weekend very much”. -Dee, Jane and Lynn
“The whole Passenger crew loved it here. You rock! So relaxed!” -England, Canada, Germany, and Australia
“Everything here was absolutely beautiful and very peaceful. Many memories made here with all of our families who came from Montana and Ohio. You planned to have everything at our fingertips and thought of everything to make our stay very comfortable. We will highly recommend this facility to others.” -The Hull family
“This was exactly what my spirit needed.” -Terri & Michael
“It was another amazing weekend at the Shire. All 20 of us women had a phenomenal time sharing, bonding, laughing, crying, assisting, praying and enjoying each other's company. We leave the Shire physically but take precious memories with us.” -Jodi
“Words are inadequate to express our gratitude for this wonderful site. The beauty and peacefulness of the surroundings - the joyful presence of so many animals seen and unseen - the warmth, helpfulness and hospitality of the staff - the exquisite attention given to equipping the Cedar House - the glorious walking trails - the opportunities for both companionship and solitude - all combined for an incredible weekend.” -Evelyn
“Gratitude to the family owners of this place - the friendly animals that live here and the land itself. You fostered a perfect atmosphere in which we could do our sacred work. Bless you.” -Laurel