Ever wanted to visit Bordner’s Cabin at Swatara State Park? Here’s a preview of what to expect, and a guide on how to do it.
If you’re using GPS, punch in this address: Sand Siding Rd, Jonestown, PA 17038. If you’re navigating the old-fashioned way, here’s a handy map to help you get your bearings. Take Sand Siding Road to its end and you’ll be at the Sand Siding Trailhead of the Swatara Rail Trail.
Expect about a 20 minute/1.5 mile walk. Sand Siding is a former Lebanon & Tremont Branch stop. The 570′, four-span bridge crosses over Swatara Creek providing a popular spot to take photographs.
The Swatara Rail Trail spans about 10 miles total running from Lickdale to Pine Grove. We won’t be on it that long though.
Your first glimpse of the cabin. Sitting in the 3,250 acre Swatara State Park north of Jonestown, Bordner’s Cabin has been called Lebanon County’s Falling Water—a moniker that would no doubt please builder Armar Bordner, the Lickdale native and Lebanon High Class of 1924 grad who built the cabin.
The front of Bordner’s Cabin faces the trail. Bordner began building the cabin in 1937 and finished in 1939, using oak trees found on the site.
The cabin has been nearly torn down in the past, but has received significant restoration work in recent years. The Swatara Watershed Association is currently in its second 10-year lease on the facility in Swatara State Park.
A waterfall sits in the backyard of Bordner’s Cabin.
Although the name is misspelled, the boulder below marks the spot as Aycrigg’s Falls. Aycrigg’s Falls is one of Exploring PA’s nine best sites in the state for waterfall fans.
Imagine having this in your backyard! Many of the rocks and large boulders were displaced from heavy rains last year. This photo is facing north.
The cabin site is still being cleaned up from last year’s heavy rains. Debris is spread throughout the outside of the cabin in piles from the cleanup efforts.
This moss grows everywhere in the area. Located on almost every large rock, creating a very beautiful scenery.
Another angle to Bordner’s Cabin. Note the decorative wheels to the left, as well as the hand-hewn finish of the logs used in the cabin. Bordner’s uncle was responsible for felling the oak trees used to build the structure.
The deck located on the side of the cabin. Quite a spot for your evening happy hour!
Caution tape as well as cones needed to be put up due to a significant portions of the sidewalk and porch washing away from heavy rains. Visitors will need to stay off the porch until repairs are made. The ston was undercut by the 500-year storm of 2018. (This paragraph previously misstated that there was damage to the foundation, which is in fact intact, according to Swatara Watershed Association president Jo Ellen Litz. We regret the error.)
Fireplace inside the cabin. No fires allowed though.
The cabin is of his own design, and Bordner served as his own contractor for the largely hand-crafted structure.
Even recent repairs, like the hand rail below, took a major hit with the heavy rains last year.
Just like Falling Water, even the carports are beautiful.
Bordner died in 1994 and is buried at Union-Salem Evangelical Congregational Cemetery, with his cabin standing as the biggest monument to this northern Lebanon man’s life. Want to learn more about Bordner? Check out this audio interview with him hosted on YouTube.
Well, did you have fun? Feel inspired to build your own cabin in the woods? Now it’s time to go home.
On your way, check out some of the beautiful vegetation surrounding the site. According to DCNR, Swatara State Park has a combination of woodland and old fields in various stages of forest succession.
Do you have your own tips for visiting Bordner’s Cabin? Let us know in the comments!
Update 5/10: Swatara Watershed President Jo Ellen Litz reached out to LebTown regarding plans in the near future for Bordner Cabin to become an active construction zone as the Watershed organization works with the Red Horse Unit of the National Guard to perform stone repairs as an exercise for soldiers. During the repair period, visitors will not be allowed to visit the cabin. Learn more about SWA at their website or on Facebook.
Photos by Will Trostel.