A Rustic Montana Retreat
By Kim Bates
Photography: Kim Bates
Are you ready to get away–far away–from the stresses of the modern world? If so, step back in time and journey to Hogan Cabin in Wisdom, MT. Far off the beaten track, this one-room log cabin provides primitive shelter for outdoor enthusiasts who desire a rustic home base for recreation.
Hogan Cabin can be accessed from Highway 43, 25 miles west of Wisdom, Montana by three different access routes. We traveled to the cabin on our way home from visiting relatives in Hamilton, Montana, at the end of August, and used Trail Creek Road #106.
Trail Creek Road is six miles of flat dirt road that meanders through wild flower covered meadows, brief wooded copses and past wide vistas that showcase the true beauty of the Montana wilderness. Though at summer’s end we were able to drive directly in, be ready to snowmobile or cross country ski to the cabin in the winter months.
Another possible route to the cabin, Shoofly Trail #101B, begins at the Highway 43 chain-up parking lot at
Richardson Creek, and is the shortest, but the most strenuous route. It is not recommended for use in heavy snow by inexperienced skiers.
Wands, or snow markers, lead the way in the snow, and blue diamonds in the wooded areas. Due to the difficulty of this trail, it is not the route of choice for snowmobiles. Chief Joseph Nordic Ski Trails is the third possible trail-head shared by snowmobiles and skiers. All three accesses and trails are explained in detail on the Recreation.gov website.
We could see Hogan Cabin in the distance as we rounded bends in the road. Nestled in a far off meadow, its slanted roof peeks out inviting you to head further into the wilderness, and further away from civilization. I started feeling like Laura Ingalls, heading home after a day in town.
Hoping to have the area to ourselves, we were a little disappointed to see two motor homes parked in the meadow right outside the split rail fence that welcomes you to the cabin. Off the beaten path, but apparently not entirely exclusive! The nice thing is, you can head in and close the wood gate behind you. The other visitors were friendly though, so we got over it quickly, and headed down the drive to check out the digs.
The cabin was built in the 1920’s and originally served as field quarters for state and federal forest workers and fire crews. Charmingly rustic, this cabin is one room, and does not have any electricity or running water. Watch your head as you pass the threshold of the door—the roof line is low. Upon entering you will see four bunk beds to your right and a wood stove to your left. There is a very small table, chairs, and a propane stove.
Amenities provided for you are firewood (there is also a barn stocked with firewood behind the cabin, in case you find yourself needing more), pots and pans, wooden bunk beds with pads, a shovel, ax, a lantern, bucket, and dishes.
You are responsible for packing in your own propane canister, bedding, food and toilet paper, and any other necessities, such as matches, garbage bags, or flashlights. Come prepared. Staying here is one small step away from camping! These are rugged accommodations—the toilet is in an outhouse, so be prepared to bundle up for midnight runs in the snowy months!
Outside the cabin is a fire pit surrounded by benches, perfect for roasting hot dogs, or marshmallows, and telling campfire stories late into the starry nights. We enjoyed sitting outside the cabin, listening to the wind blow through the pines, reading the log entries from previous visitors to the cabin, while the kids splashed and played at the little creek that passes about a hundred yards from the site.
Later we hiked through the tall grasses, loosely following one of the trails, surrounded by clouds of white butterflies which my son gleefully caught and released. We kept our eyes open for wildlife, but only encountered insects and frogs in the marshy grasses. Keep your eyes open and you may spot deer, bear, moose, or other wildlife.
Hogan Cabin is a charming retreat, a respite for relaxing and connecting with nature, and a simpler way of life. Visit in the summer and enjoy hiking the lovely meadows, or trek out in the winter months and bring all of your snow toys, ready for adventure and exercise in the great outdoors. Play in the snow all day, then hunker down in the little one-room cabin warmed by the wood stove and good company, as the snowflakes fall fast outside the window.
Post Office Box 238
Wisdom, MT 59761
GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude): 45.71306, -113.88
Latitude: 45, 42, 47.65 N Longitude: 113, 52, 48.56 W
25 miles west of Wisdom, Mt. on Hwy 43
Rental fee: $25 per night, up to 3 consecutive nights. Cabin can only be reserved up to 180 days in advance.
For more information, call The Wisdom Ranger District at (406) 689-3243 or visit: