Disclaimer: Caution must be used at all times as natural hazards exist in the wilderness. Please play wisely and follow the applicable state guidance for travel and safety considerations.
Swatara State Park is a 3,520-acre park in the Swatara Valley. It’s located about 20 miles northeast of Harrisburg. It is easy to reach via Interstate 81, and it is close to Fort Indiantown Gap. Swatara State Park is home to miles of bike trails. The Swatara Creek runs through the park.
Swatara State Park Trails
Our favorite location in Swatara State Park is Bordner Cabin. It is located next to Aycrigg Falls. These gems of the park aren’t even on the official state park map. To hike to reach the cabin and waterfall, it’s easiest to park in the Sand Siding Road parking lot. At the entrance to the parking lot, you can head in either direction on the Swatara Rail Trail. To reach the cabin and waterfall, face the main road you entered on (route 443) and head left.
It will be a short walk to the Sand Siding Trail, which is where you’ll hang a left to cross the large bridge. If you don’t come to this large bridge, you’re headed in the wrong direction. After crossing the bridge, head left again to be on the Bear Hole Trail, which will lead you to the cabin and waterfall.
Bear Hole Trail
The Bear Hole Trail is the longer portion of the walk, with the entire length from the parking to the cabin is about 1.5 miles. Therefore, expect round trip expect to be about 3 miles. The entire portion is flat and stone, so it’s possible to take a bike to the cabin. It’s fairly shady, so it’s a nice walk for sunny, hot days.
Upon arriving at the cabin, you’ll notice a large path to the right. There’s a slight uphill walk, and you’ll see the large cabin beside a stream. As you enter the cabin, you’ll notice the windows frame a large waterfall. Recent rains will determine how much water is flowing, as the best time to view it is after a substantial amount of rain.
There are several floors to explore in the cabin. There’s even picnic tables inside the cabin to enjoy a break and some refreshments. The cabin is gutted to the wood floors and walls, but you can imagine what it looked like when someone lived in it years ago. Look for the history of the cabin posted on one of the walls.
Once you’ve explored the cabin and waterfall, follow the trail back to your car. Note that the Twin Grove Campground is near the exit of the park on Route 443, and includes a restaurant and ice cream parlor, if you’ve worked up an appetite from your walk.
Things to Consider When Visiting Swatara State Park:
- Riding a bike to the cabin is possible, as the trail is wide and small stones the for the entire trail.
- During specific and very limited dates, you can drive to the cabin. Check out the Swatara State Park website for more information.
- Try to visit after a substantial rain or in the spring. The waterfall may be just a trickle during the drier months.
Looking for another cool State Park to visit? Check out Ohiopyle State Park.