Muskrat Lake Shelter

In July of 2012 I visited Muskrat Lake Shelter, a half forgotten fur-trapper’s cabin nestled in the The Three Sisters Wilderness. The cabin was built in 1934 by famed cabin builder Luther Metke. The cabin was built to house fur trappers who managed traps that supplemented a muskrat farm owned by Ted Wallace. The business eventually failed and the cabin was opened to the public; accounts of an intact wooden floor, workings stoves and a stock of canned food start from the 1970’s and go until the late 1990’s.

I suppose you could still camp here, but I would prefer the nice tent site across the way. High water has caused the erosion of most of the cabin floor. The mosquitos are out in force here, especially right on the lake, bring a head net! Muskrats like slow moving water ways, marshes, and small ponds. This is the ideal muskrat setting and tons still live here today. The lake is open to fishing and even on this mid Summer day the lake was popping with jumping fish. I hear there are big Brook trout here but good luck getting one to bite, they have their fill of MOSQUITOS daily!

The hike starts at the dead end of NF 4635, past Cultus Lake Campground. Follow The Winopee trail for 2.9 miles. About a 1/4 mile into the hike is an awesome campsite on Cultus Lake. The lake can be be a bit choppy but this particular cove is protected from the wind, the beach here is gently sloped and sandy. Large Ponderosa’s protect the tent sites, this is prime real estate so come early (in the season and the week) to get a spot. You can hike or boat in, no car access available. Stay left at the Junction To Corral Lakes, head right toward Winopee Lake .07 miles to a junction. Continue Left for 1.4 miles to reach Muskrat Lake Shelter.

In August of 2014 a lightning strike sparked The Muskrat Fire, it came within 1/2 mile of this cabin. There is something timeless about this place, the land here is still so remote, unlike the community of Bend today. And yet, each year it succumbs more to the wilderness around it. The Muskrat Lake shelter was the last built in The Three Sisters Wilderness and (for now) stands a relic of 20th Century Central Oregon. <—Luther Metke was a Central Oregon Pioneer who lived on a homestead where Sunriver Resort now stands. He is accredited for building nearly every bridge from Bend to Crescent and over 30 Log Cabins (including The Great Hall at Sunriver).

Muskrat Lake Shelter, 2012
Muskrat Lake Shelter, high water prevented access without wading
Interior of Muskrat Lake Shelter
Inside of Cabin
Remains of once working stove
View of Marsh
A nice enough spot for lunch (with mosquitos)
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