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Book Online or call HomeAway Booking Assistance 888-829-7076
Book Online or call HomeAway Booking Assistance 888-829-7076

5 Unique Cabins And 2 Houses For A Large Group, Family Reunion, Or Wedding

Bedrooms 18
Property type estate
Minimum Stay 2 nights


About the property

A Very Private, Magical Lodging Compound In A State Forest On The Soo Line Trail

If you are looking for a private spot to hold your next family reunion, wedding, or just want to get together with a group of friends to have some fun, then you will really enjoy this property! We call this heaven the Shire in the Woods. It is located about 17 miles east of northern Mille Lacs Lake in the middle of the 68,000 acre Solana State Forest, and the Soo Line South Trail goes right through our property. We have 120 acres of private land with many miles of groomed trails for walking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing. There are many more miles of trails in the State Forest that can be accessed from our trails and other points for more of these activities as well as snowmobiling and ATVing. Of course the Soo Line Trail goes for hundreds of miles in either direction, so you could travel to southern Mille Lacs Lake or even Duluth from our place! Our spot is perfect for snowmobile or ATV clubs, and many more activities.

We have about four acres of groomed lawns to set up whatever event you would like. We also have many outdoor fire pits as well as a large one for one of those memorable all night bonfires. We have had several weddings on the property, and we have a 20'x40' commercial party tent, 100 folding chairs, table cloths and napkins, and 22+ banquet tables for rent at $200 a day. It is perfect setting for any outdoor spring, summer, or fall event. We also have tree swings, hammocks, and horses to keep everyone entertained during those in between, special moments. We also can cater any event from our commercial kitchen, but every place is well equipped to create and serve whatever meal you can dream up. In addition to all of this, we have a large indoor meeting space in the Octagon which also is equipped with a 120" screen with a 3D LCD projector and home theatre system (Wi-Fi everywhere too). A great way to end every friends gathering, family reunion, or wedding is with a movie night or presentation!

Each place has a CD/cassette player, outdoor fire pit, table fans as well as ceiling fans, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, additional oil filled space heater, off peak electric storage heater, base board heaters, kitchen utensils, bedding, screened in porches, some basic pantry items, a outdoor grill, and more.

The Cedar House is built into a hill with the east and north sides facing into the forest and the other sides facing into an open southerly view. The main floor is vaulted and has a large, open kitchen with full size gas stove with oven, full refrigerator/freezer, coffee pot, crock pot, toaster oven, coffee grinder, and all the necessary utensils, pots and pans, and dinnerware to serve 15 or more. There is a large wooden dining table in the dining area off of the kitchen which seats 8. A small table in the kitchen seats 2 to 4. The north facing deck is accessible through the kitchen which allows convenient access to the grill. There are views out into the woods and Shire lawns. The vaulted living room has a queen size futon couch located in front of the full, built-in fireplace so you can relax or sleep in perfect comfort. A rocking chair and a coffee table are also located in the living room. A south facing deck is accessible through a door behind the futon. Also off of the living room, a stairs leads up to the lofted sleeping area. This large space has six single beds and another rocking chair. It overlooks the living room and kitchen. The space is partially lit by a skyway window. The east window faces out into the forest for a beautiful, elevated view. As you venture further back into the house, you will encounter a full bathroom with a shower and a Jacuzzi tub and then 3 bedrooms. The first bedroom has a full size bed, and it has access to the wraparound east/north deck through a sliding glass door. This part of the deck faces out into the forest. The center bedroom also has a full size bed. The last bedroom has two single beds and a lofted bed. It also has a sliding glass door which leads out onto the wrap around east/north deck. This portion of the deck is screened in. The lower level has a laundry room, a bathroom with a shower, a single car tuck-under garage, and two car tuck-under garage. There is table tennis and a dart board available in the smaller garage.

The Octagon is one of our most unique structures. The grand space can be fully experienced once you enter the large vaulted main room. There are four couches, plenty of pillows, other chairs, and several tables placed throughout. The furniture can be moved in any manner desired to fit your needs. Original artwork is spread throughout the main room. The vast majority of the books, cassettes, and CDs of various genres are found within this main space as well as a xylophone and some drums. There is a large, built in wood fireplace located on the east wall. The main room is ideal for large gatherings such as for yoga, spiritual drumming, classes, workshops, demonstrations, receptions, dining, entertainment, and more. There is also a 120” projection screen located in this room for presentations, workshops, or the occasional movie night. An Epson Home Cinema 3500 3LCD projector and Blu-ray home theatre sound system is available for guest use. There are VGA, HDMI, and converter cables available to interface your laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone. The exterior of the Octagon is surrounded by a wraparound deck with south and north-facing seating areas which can be accessed from large, sliding, glass doors from the main room or from a side door off of the kitchen. The kitchen has a two-burner cooktop, a full-size refrigerator/freezer, toaster oven, crock pot, coffee makers, microwave, and all of the necessary kitchen utensils and dinnerware to serve a larger group. The kitchen has a countertop oven with convection with the capacity to hold two 16" pizzas or a whole chicken. Also on the lower level are a handicap accessible bathroom and shower and one bedroom with a single bed. In this bedroom are more books, games, and puzzles. There are 3 bedrooms on the upper level. The central bedroom has two single beds. The east and west bedrooms each has a single bed. Also on the upper level is a bathroom with a claw foot tub and skylight. The sitting area outside of the rooms includes a rocking chair and looks down over the main vaulted room. It is bathed in warm, bright, sunlight from the unique south-facing windows.

The Tree Lodge is nestled away in the forest and has lots of space in its dual level design. On the lower level, there is a large living/dining room with two rocking chairs next to a wood burning fireplace. Next to a large picture window which looks out into the forest is a full sized bed. On the east side of the Lodge, you enter through a side door into a full length screened in porch which faces out into the forest. There are extra folding camping chairs located in this area which can be used on the porch or around the outdoor fire place. The kitchen has a two-burner cooktop, two small refrigerators (one with a freezer), a microwave, crock pot, coffee maker, a large toaster oven, and all the necessary kitchen utensils and dinnerware. Also on the lower level is a ¾ bathroom with a shower.

The upper level has a smaller living room with a single bed isolated with a privacy screen on the south side. There is a sink with a large vanity mirror on the east side. Two additional bedrooms each have two single beds which can be pushed together if desired. Each bedroom has a spectacular view out into the forest. A ¾ bathroom with a shower is located on this level too.

The Woodlands cabin is tucked away in the woods. It is the most isolated, private dwelling. We consider it our honeymoon suite with its comfortable and cozy queen-size bed.

It has a screened-in porch off of the front entryway. The one level, one-room design features a dining space with large, corner viewing windows that face out into the forest. There is a ¾ bathroom with a shower directly off of the bedroom area. A freestanding fireplace is located in one corner in front of the couch. The kitchen has a small refrigerator with a freezer, a two-burner cooktop, a microwave, a coffee pot, crock pot, a large toaster oven, and all the necessary kitchen utensils and dinnerware.

The Birches is our largest of the “small” cabins. It has a spacious two level design. The entryway has a wraparound screened in porch with just enough room for some chairs and a table for summertime outdoor relaxation. You enter into the kitchen which has a small refrigerator with a freezer, a microwave, a two burner cook top, a large toaster oven, coffee pot, crock pot, tea kettle, and all the necessary kitchen utensils and dinnerware. There is a small dining space in the kitchen as well as one by the large viewing windows facing the bird feeder and birch woods. Facing the fireplace is the queen size futon couch. There is also a 3/4 bath on the main level. The spiral staircase leads to two beds upstairs with a rocking chair nestled in the corner by one of the beds which creates a perfect spot for some nighttime reading. Surrounded by unique windows, the room fills with sunshine on sunny days.

You enter the Loft through a wraparound screened-in porch and then into the kitchen. Off to the left are two rocking chairs with foot stools in front of the free standing wood burning fireplace. Ahead sits the dining table in front of the large, south-facing, viewing windows. Also on the first floor is a ½ bath*. You ascend up the spiral staircase to the loft where two single beds reside. The Kitchen has a small refrigerator with a freezer, a two-burner cook top, microwave, coffee pot, crock pot, and a toaster oven.

The Meadows has a single level, one-room design which is very open and expansive in its design. It overlooks the meadows of the Shire main grounds. It is a very cozy and warm atmosphere especially in the colder months. Against the west wall lies a single-size bed with another pull out single bed.

More Details

Michael Bonnette
Member since: 2016
Speaks: english
Response time:
Within 12 hours
Response rate:
Calendar last updated:
March 19, 2018

About Michael Bonnette

I have spent the last 25 years of my life firmly entrenched in the research and development world with a vast majority of that time spent in the interventional medical industry. With my creativity and engineering degree, I have managed to receive 70 US and foreign patents with 50 submissions still pending. Many of these ideas have resulted in devices which have helped people in one form or another, and in 2013, I decided I wanted to help people in another way. I acquired this property which will help people escape and relax in the beauty of the Minnesota Woods!

The property has 120 acres of private lands which sits within 68 thousand acres of the Solana State Forest. The Soo Line Trail also travels right through my property. In 2013, the property was purchased by my family 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 Shire in the Woods was formerly solely a retreat center which 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. The Shire still has it's roots within that theme, and it has grown much more for everyone to enjoy!

Michael Bonnette purchased this estate in 2013

Why Michael Bonnette chose McGrath

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 at 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 you, your family and friends, facilitate special groups, workshops, and meetings, host a wedding, hold a family reunion, 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 Woodlands, The Birches, The Meadows, and The Loft), The Cedar House, The Tree Lodge, and a gathering space, movie theatre, presentation media space, and library in The Octagon (unless privately reserved).

Other features of the Shire:

• Screened-in gazebo.

• Wood burning sauna.

• 5 miles of groomed trails.

• A rose garden.

• A labyrinth.

• Beaver, frog, and turtle pond.

• Tree swings and hammock.

• Outdoor fire pits and 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 our animals antics and social systems, pet them, and with prior arrangements have guided interactions or feed them treats.

All of the places are arranged with there own unique setting such that you feel like you are the only one there!

What makes this estate unique

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 the cabin fireplace, and more!

The Shire in the Woods offers many winter and summer vacation activities for everyone to enjoy.

• Enjoy wooded solitude on the private trails.

• 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.

• Enjoy the sounds of nature as the many frogs, owls, wolves, and birds vocalize and sing their songs!


McGrath Estate Accommodation and Amenities

Property Type:
  • estate
  • Guests provide their own meals
House Rules:
  • Check-in: 4:00 PM / Check-out: 1:00 PM
  • Max. occupancy: 60
  • pets considered
  • Events Allowed
  • children welcome
  • non smoking only
  • Adventure
  • Away From It All
  • Budget
  • Family
  • Romantic
  • Sports & Activities
  • Air Conditioning
  • Clothes Dryer
  • Garage
  • Hair Dryer
  • Heating
  • Internet ...
  • Iron & Board
  • Linens Provided
  • Living Room
  • Parking
  • Telephone
  • Towels Provided
  • Washing Machine
  • Wood Stove
  • Coffee Maker
  • Dishes & Utensils
  • Kitchen
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Pantry Items
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove
  • Toaster
  • Dining Area
  • 11 Bathrooms
  • Bathroom 1 -
    Bathroom 2 -
    Bathroom 3 -
    Bathroom 4 -
    Bathroom 5 -
    Bathroom 6 -
    Bathroom 7 -
    Bathroom 8 -
    Bathroom 9 -
    Bathroom 10 -
    Bathroom 11 -
  • 18 Bedrooms, Sleeps 60
  • Books
  • DVD Player
  • Game Room
  • Games
  • Music Library
  • Ping Pong Table
  • Stereo
  • Video Library
  • Balcony
  • Bicycles
  • Deck / Patio
  • Lanai / Gazebo
  • Lawn / Garden
  • Outdoor Grill
  • 1 bicycles
  • limited accessibility
Pool / Spa:
  • Sauna
Onsite Services:
  • Massage


4.5/5 -
(2 traveler reviews)

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5 Unique Cabins And 2 Houses For A Large Group, Family Reunion, Or Wedding
average rating of 4.5 based on 2 reviews

A great place for a family reunion!

  • 5 of 5

My extended family (about 28 were able to make it) held our reunion at The Shire following my daughter's wedding and the place worked out beautifully. The combination of different housing allowed separation and quiet time for individuals and families while allowing us to be in close proximity. We did most of our cooking at the Cedar House, while the Octagon was large enough to hold everyone for meals, games and movies during the rainy day. It was a little buggy, but anyone staying in the middle of MN in July should be expecting that! Michael and his family were very responsive to questions and are obviously invested in making their guests feel welcome and comfortable. We would definitely recommend The Shire!

  • Submitted: Aug 1, 2017
  • Stayed: July 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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Tranquil location, great for our family reunion

  • 4 of 5

We had a wonderful time! Thanks!

  • Submitted: Feb 4, 2017
  • Stayed: January 2017
  • Source: VRBO, from HomeAway
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Additional information about rental rates

Property Damage Protection $99
firewood fee $70 + Tax
Pet Fee $60
cleaning fee $200 + Tax
Tax Rate 6.88%

Owner's Cancellation Policy

  • 50% refund if canceled at least 30 days before arrival date.
  • 100% refund if canceled at least 60 days before arrival date.
  • Service Fee fully refunded on cancellations that qualify for 100% refund.