The celebrated Lodge at Glendorn is just a cast away north of Pittsburgh
March 1, 2017 12:00 AM
Autumn Trout Waters oil painting by Tim Tanner hangs at the entrance of the Big House. credit Patricia Sheridan
The Big House glimpsed in the distance from the banks of one of the trout streams at Glendorn near Bradford, Pa.
Patricia Sheridan / Post-Gazette
The outdoor fireplace at Glendorn's Hideout Cabin.
Patricia Sheridan / Post-Gazette
The dining room in the Big House at Glendorn.
Patricia Sheridan / Post-Gazette
On the skeet range, Activities guide Shane Appleby takes aim using a .410 gauge Beretta.
The Hideout cabin built in 1931 for Forest and Ruth Dorn to escape the growing family using the Big House. The cabin sleeps two and includes a shooting gallery and outdoor fireplace. In 2016 the Hideout celebrated its 85th anniversary. credit Patricia Sheridan
A view of the Hideout's wood burning fireplace and kitchen. Most of the original furnishings and knick knacks remain in the cabin giving it a very homey feeling. credit Patricia Sheridan
The window bench in the Hideout Cabin retains the carvings of the Dorn family members. credit Patricia Sheridan
Rainbow trout in one of the crystal clear streams at The Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, Pa. credit Patricia Sheridan
Glendorn Fly Fishing guide Jim Minich demonstrates how to hook a trout in Skipper Lake. In the background is John's Cabin, one of 12 cabins on the property. Named for John Dorn, it is a four bedroom, four bathroom retreat with a wood burning fireplace and front porch. credit Patricia Sheridan
The waiting room at the spa at the Lodge at Glendorn. Credit Patricia Sheridan
A corner of the bunk room in Glendorn's main lodge. credit Patricia Sheridan
By Patricia Sheridan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADFORD, Pa. — A river may not run through it but several excellent fly fishing streams do. The Lodge at Glendorn is ideal for anyone who wants to practice the gentle rhythm of a roll cast or just meditate to the sound of a babbling brook.
What began as a family retreat built with oil money by Clayton Glenville Dorn was named the Fly Fishing Lodge of the Year for 2016 by Orvis. This Relais & Chateaux property also topped Travel & Leisure magazine’s list as the best resort in the Continental U.S. in 2016.
It’s the kind of place where you can see trout swimming in crystal clear streams and hear coyotes singing, but also savor a five-course meal with whiskey neat. Later you can enjoy a spa treatment in the renovated butler’s cabin.
Rustic elegance best describes this 1,500-acre resort deep in Pennsylvania’s northwest woods. The property borders the Allegheny National Forest and is a slightly more than three-hour drive from Pittsburgh. The flight to Bradford can be as low as $29 one way and the Glendorn staff will pick you up.
“We get a lot of visitors from Canada, New York and Ohio,” said general manager Jason Smith.
The main lodge at Glendorn was constructed of redwood logs in 1929 and includes the Dorn and Green suites, the Balcony Room and Redwood Room. Patricia Sheridan / Post-Gazette
The staff seems genuinely interested in making your experience one you will want to repeat. They will help with everything from bonfires and buckets of cold beer by the lake to guided fly fishing trips, game bird hunts, sporting clays and backpack lunches for hikers.
Another reason people return again and again is Glendorn’s authenticity. It has changed little since 1927, when C.G. Dorn and his son, Forest, had the first cabin built for fishing along Fuller Brook. When the Dorns moved to the Big House — now the main lodge — the cabin was renamed the Miller Cabin after Mr. Dorn’s sister married Frank Miller.
“We want the guests to feel as if they are going back to a different era,” said Cliff Forrest, who bought the property at auction in 2009.
The Big House was built from California redwood in 1929, the year the stock market crashed. Olaf William Shelgren, who was known for designing churches, created a main room with a beamed, cathedral ceiling, a balcony and a large stone fireplace. Five-course dinners are served there every evening. The enclosed side porch is reserved for breakfast.
The Big House also includes two suites, two rooms and a dorm room with multiple bunks that
As Forest Dorn’s five sons and one daughter married, each built cabins of their own. The compound now includes 12 cabins, many named for family members.
Looking for a little more privacy, Mr. Dorn and his wife, Ruth, found a spot on a hill and constructed the one-room Hideout in 1931. It has an outdoor fireplace and a shooting gallery that uses special ammunition so as not to destroy the targets.
“It’s one of the most popular cabins for couples,” said activities guide Shane Appleby.
The Hideout’s window seat still bears original graffiti carved by various Dorns. Lamps, books and a multitude of original family knick-knacks add quirkiness and charm to every building. It’s like “Throwback Thursday” every day.
“You can’t buy history and family traditions,” Mr. Forrest said. “The Dorn family history that they effectively left behind is what makes Glendorn authentic.”
The Dorns opened the compound to the public in 1995. Mr. Forrest first visited as a guest of a Pittsburgh law firm that invited clients and partners to spend a few days fly fishing at Glendorn one June.
Inside Glendorn's Miller Cabin, the oldest one at the resort. It was built in 1927. Patricia Sheridan / Post-Gazette
“I was beyond impressed with the character, beauty and amenities,” he said, adding that he built his own hunting camp in Armstrong County with a massive stone fireplace similar to the one in the Big House.
An outdoor enthusiast, Mr. Forrest was also attracted to Glendorn’s 1,500 acres. Yet its maximum capacity is a mere 55 guests, making it feel very private.
People may be scarce, but the wildlife is abundant. “There are deer, pheasant, porcupines, mink, fishers, coyotes and bears,” said Mr. Appleby, a former Army communications specialist who grew up in nearby Smethport.
“There is something to do every season here.”
Glendorn has an in-ground, heated swimming pool, tennis courts, croquet and areas for skeet, trap and sporting clays.
“We shoot year-round thanks to heated skeet and trap paths,” Mr. Appleby said.
There are miles of trails for mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter. Bondieu Lake — which bears C.G. Dorn’s nickname — is perfect for canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding in the summertime. Fly fishing in the streams and Skipper Lake is best in spring, but the trout are still biting in late fall, according to instructor and guide Jim Minich.
“The best time is May, June and July,” he advised. “Match the hatch, that is what you want to do.”
Reflecting the natural world indoors are original oil paintings and sculptures by German-born Pittsburgh artist George Hetzel and others. His “Evening in the Alleghenies” is on the wall of the sun porch. Sporting scenes including Tim Tanner’s “Autumn Trout Waters” at the lodge entrance and N.C. Wyeth’s “His First Bear” outside the wine cellar.
“Many Dorn family members still come back,” said director of lodging Judy Crooks, who started working for the family 39 years ago. “I love the property. You just drink it in when you are here.”
Connecting with nature and unplugging from your routine has restorative powers, Glendorn lovers say.
“Spending time in the woods is more than therapeutic for me,” Mr. Forrest said.
“My favorite activities are grabbing a fly rod and spending the afternoon on Fuller Brook or shooting a competitive round of trap and skeet with my son.”
Glendorn accommodations range from $475 to $1,075 per night depending on lodging and number of guests. Reservations: www.glendorn.com or 1-800-843-8568.
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