Warning: Undefined variable $is_cron in /home/customer/www/mntrails.com/public_html/wp-content/plugins/resmushit-image-optimizer/classes/Controller/ProcessController.php on line 42
Adventure Report: Log Cabin Hideaways - Minnesota Trails

Adventure Report: Log Cabin Hideaways

Mar 17, 2023Adventure Report

Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Ride the Tomassoni Tour and cycle for ALS, on the beautiful Mesabi Trail in northern Minnesota.
“Listen”. I cupped my right hand behind my ear and turned to Jen. “I don’t hear anything,” she said. The fire crackled softly in the steel pit. Chickadees bounced around the branches of the aspen, sounding their signature calls. A light breeze tussled the tops the tops of the spruce.
She was right. There was nothing to hear. Nothing we didn’t want to hear.
It was day zero of our three-night stay at a rustic, off-grid cabin at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and we started it off with a proper bonfire. The rest of the time we had planned to fill with snowshoeing, ice fishing, sauna and playing Yahtzee, in no particular order.

Two hours earlier we had met Cecilia Quattromani and Dean Bushey, owners of Log Cabin Hideaways, on a Friday afternoon at a pickup spot 15 miles northeast of Ely. The two rent three rustic cabins, Triangle, Wintergreen and Bucksnort on a 40-acre parcel of secluded land bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The only way to make the three-mile trip is by canoe or snowmobile. Of course, you can opt to snowshoe, ski or bike yourself in, but we chose to get a ride. Us and our gear went into the qamutik-style sled behind Dean’s snowmobile, Cecilia jumped on the seat behind Dean, Jen zipped up her coat, I flipped down the ear flaps on my buffalo-plaid railroad cap and, after a final thumbs up to our pilot, we were on the nonexistent road to a weekend in the wild. Just a half a mile into the ride, Dean stopped to examine a set of prints in the snow along the trail. An experienced guide, he identified them as lynx paw prints. “These weren’t here earlier,” he said. This trip was off to a good start.

Our snow train zipped across two lakes and bumped along the trail until we arrived at the newest cabin, Bucksnort, where we unloaded and got the lowdown on how to light the stove, operate the battery-powered lighting system and manage drinking and washing water. With a “See you on Monday!” our ride left and we spent the rest of the day at the bonfire, soaking in some sun on a very nice winter day, kept feeding the fire with logs and listened to the chickadees chitter at the bird feeder. Slowly, we decompressed.
A man and a woman are being pulled across a frozen lake in a sled by a man riding a snowmobile
The percolator on the antique gas stove was done bubbling before the sun was up all the way the next morning. Armed with steaming mugs of coffee, we forged our plan for the day. The Log Cabin Hideaways property has an existing trails network you can explore by foot, snowshoe, fatbike or ski. The routes connecting the three cabins are packed hard and flattened by the snowmobile Dean uses to shuttle guests, but there’s other, foot-travel only options. The map at the cabin was marked with recommended fishing holes, but we decided to go rogue and take a snowshoe trail to the Kawishiwi River to find our own.
Self-issued BWCAW permit in hand we set off, taking turns pulling a sled full of ice fishing gear through a scenery familiar and new at the same time. We had been to the Boundary Waters before, but never in the winter. The intimate trail twisted through the birch and aspen forest, over boulders and past rocky outcroppings. It seemed whatever wasn’t crusted in snow, was, instead covered by lichen and moss. We pulled the gear sled up hills and let it pull us down until we finally caught a glimpse of the frozen river.
It was only our second time ice fishing and the first time drilling our own hole and it was tough work. It took a good 20 minutes to make a shape in the rock-hard ice that one could call a shallow hole. Taking turns cranking the auger we kept measuring: 6 inches, 8 inches, 12 inches, 14 inches. We kept going. (When we talked later, we found out each one of us was ready to throw in the towel anytime, had the other said so.) Finally-water! We had drilled a 16-inch-deep hole and were ready to fish.
A woman holds a piece of candy she retrieved from a mailbox in a snowy forest

There was nothing else to do but sit and jig the line every once in a while, maybe chew on a sandwich. It was another bluebird day and we felt lucky we got to spend it in a place so beautiful and quiet, with only the occasional swoosh of a mild breeze in the trees on the shore and the faraway call of a crow. We spent a few hours there and it didn’t matter that we didn’t even get a nibble. The only regret we had was leaving the coffee kit at home. Making a hot cup of pour over joe on a frozen lake in the Boundary Waters would have been the cherry on the bowl of ice cream kind of day we were having. We packed up and headed back when we heard the sauna calling late in the afternoon, but not without stopping at the special mailbox Cecilia and Dean keep stocked with chocolates. After our Boundary Waters Triathlon -snowshoe, auger, sauna- lights out came early. We drifted off to sleep to the muffled pops of the fire behind the glass window of the cast iron stove and the flames’ flickering lights on the walls.

A landscape view of a full moon and purple-blue skies in an aspen forest at dusk
Sunday morning action at the bird feeder outside the cabin was hot. It’s amazing how much personality little birds can have when you sit down and take the time to watch them. Nuthatches like to zip in, take one seed and fly off to eat it somewhere else. Goldfinches descend on the feeder in huge charms, throw a wild peckin’ party and explode away suddenly, cued by a sign only they know. Gray jays and pine grosbeaks park themselves at the feeder like old men at a lunch counter, eating in silence, nodding at each other every so often, undisturbed by what’s going on around them. Nobody likes red squirrels that come squatting on the feeder property. Not even the coordinated attack of two blue jays can scare them off, but the daring nuthatch sneaks in from the edges to steal a seed when the squirrel chirps at someone else. The party was over when a pine marten came slinking out of the woods, hopped on the tray and started rifling through the seeds for peanuts. Those gnarly teeth demand some respect.

The rest of the day was a repeat of Saturday, except we walked a different, circular, route to get to our fishing hole. The big catch of the day was Jen’s thumb-sized perch. We didn’t get skunked, but next time we will take the expert’s advice for sure. After snowshoeing and pulling a sled almost five miles, the evening sauna was one of the best I’ve ever had. Jen takes only one or two rounds, but I stayed out there for over two hours, rubbing down with snow between sets. There’s just nothing like standing in the middle of the woods on a cracking cold night as God made you, steaming in the moonlight like a boiled lobster.

Monday morning came too fast and by 10:30 am we were back in the sled, buzzing across Triangle Lake toward the boat landing. We already have reservations for next year.
A small cabin made from hand-hewn logs sits at the edge of a forest in the snow
Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Ski, Snowboard, Fat Bike with a lift assist at Detroit Mountain!
Love the Life in Luverne, Minnesota and take a spin on the Loop Trail around town and into Blue Mounds State Park
The Parks and Trails Council's mission is to acquire, protect and enhance critical land for the public's use and benefit.
The Mesabi Trail connects Minnesota's Iron Range with the Boundary Waters
Alexandria, MN is home to miles of ski, fatbike and snowmobile trails!

Keep up with the latest MN Trails news and events in our newsletter

About me

I’m Jan, the publisher of Minnesota Trails Magazine. I’m looking for that one trail, the next ride, a new discovery and other reasons never to sit still in Minnesota.


Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Cook County, MN is home to the largest cross country ski trail network in North America, totaling over 400 km.

More stories:

Must-Do Bike Rides in 2024

Road, trail, gravel, you name it. Take a look at our list of 2024 bike rides and mark your calendars!

Changing Seasons at Glacial Lakes State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park preserves a landscape formed by glaciers, like no other in Minnesota.

Adaptive Mountain Biking at Three Rivers Parks

Mountain biking is a great way to exercise, but it’s not always easy for people with disabilities.

A Runner’s Guide to Minnesota’s North Shore

From Jay Cooke and Duluth to Grand Portage, the North Shore offers trail running adventures of all lengths and difficulty levels.

12 Minnesota State Parks for Snowshoeing This Winter

Strap on a pair of snowshoes and blaze your own trail in a Minnesota State Park.

Life is Good on the Root

This photo essay takes you on a trip into southern Minnesota’s Bluff Country.

Guest Blog: Great River Bluffs State Park

Guest blogger Alyson Eversman explores this southern Minnesota gem of a state park.

Trail Pairings: Bad Habit Brewing Co

A ride on the Lake Wobegon Trail pairs very well with a visit to Bad Habit Brewing in Saint Joseph.

Adventure Report: A Visit to Sparta, WI

In the cover of darkness we snuck across the border to do some biking and fishing. Turns out we may have to do it again soon.

Trail Pairings: Rendezvous Brewing

If you’re into loop rides and craft beers, you should visit Paul Bunyan and his sweetheart, Lucette.

New Mountain Bike Trails at Cuyuna

Advanced and expert mountain bike riders now have 10 miles of new trails to ride at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

Visit our trail-friendly sponsor!
Thief River Falls, MN is your destination for year-round biking

Please join our newsletter mailing list!

It’s your source for sneak previews of the next print issue, new trails to explore, upcoming events and the latest blog posts. We promise to keep it brief, entertaining and relevant and you can unsubscribe anytime. We will not share your info with anyone.

* indicates required