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Thacher State Park is situated along the Helderberg Escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. Even as it safeguards six miles of limestone cliff-face, rock-strewn slopes, woodland and open fields, the park provides a marvelous panorama of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains. The park has volleyball courts, playgrounds, ball fields and numerous picnic areas with nine reservable shelters. Interpretive programs are offered year-round, including guided tours of the famous Indian Ladder Trail. There are over 25 additional miles of trails for summer hiking and mountain biking, and winter cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and snowmobiling. Learn more, watch WMHT's documentary: 'The Great Ledge: Exploring Thacher'
Camping is available at this park at Thompson's Lake Campground, which features 140 campsites with options of private wooded sites and open, adjacent sites. Sites can accommodate tents or RVs and are all close to restroom and shower facilities. Take the virtual tour!
The Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center is located two miles from the Overlook on Thompson's Lake. The center offers exhibits, interactive displays, trails for hiking and skiing, and educational programs.
Household pets only; caged or on a leash not more than 6 feet, rabies vaccination and proof of same required. Not permitted in buildings or bathing areas.
Nature Center: Tuesdays - Sundays, 9am-5pm, year round.
Interpretive Programs: Year-round. Call for details.
Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.
Your key to all season enjoyment of state parks is our season's pass. For $65, the Empire Passport provides you unlimited day use vehicle entry into most of our parks. Apply on-line or call your favorite park for more information.
Hailes Cave (Fits 150) - $150
Horseshoe I (Fits 75) - $150
Horseshoe II (Fits 100) - $150
Pear Orchard (Fits 150) - $150
Paint Mine (Fits 150) - $150
Knowles Flat (Fits 75) -$250
Glen Doone (Fits 75) - $250
Yellow Rock (Fits 75) - $250
Greenhouse (Fits 75) - $250
Hailes Cave Tent (Fits 40) - $75
Indian Ladder Tent (Fits 40) - $75
Highlights of Thacher State Park:
What will you see? Plan your visit today!
Listen for these birds at our Park:
Everyone is a Steward: Be a Thacher State Park Hero!
For more information, please read our Trail Tips!
Ask a Naturalist!
Q: Can we explore the cliff above and below the Indian Ladder Trail?
A: Please stay on the trail! The slopes can be dangerous with loose rocks and slippery mud. Climbing up the steep banks destroys vegetation and creates erosion problems. Many of the mosses take decades to establish and minutes to destroy. The trail is narrow and the steep slopes are difficult to stabilize. Please stay on the trail to preserve this fragile environment.
Q: Where can we go to see fossils?
A: Much of the rock in the park is limestone and contains fossils of shelled marine animals. They are easiest to find on rocks in streambeds, in the stone wall at the Overlook, and in bare rock exposed along the Cliff Top Trail. Enjoy hunting for fossils, but please remember that collecting is prohibited in state parks.
Q: When and where can we see waterfalls in the park?
A: There are two waterfalls that cascade over the Indian Ladder Trail, one at Hop Field, and at Paint Mine picnic areas. Early spring is best, and after heavy rains in summer and fall. During much the summer, the waterfalls can be completely dry.
Did You Know?
- DID YOU KNOW? In the late 1800s, the Helderbergs became a popular tourist destination and city dwellers hired buggies to bring them up to the resort hotels near the Helderberg Lakes.
- CHECK IT OUT! On a hot summer day, the narrow cave along the Indian Ladder Trail's cliff wall provides cool relief.
- DID YOU KNOW? The Indian Ladder Trail got its name from the felled trees that Native Americans used to climb over the Helderberg Escarpment on their journey between the western hills of the Schoharie Valley and the Hudson River Valley.
"Cliffs Higher Than the Palisades" was just one of the superlatives used to describe John Boyd Thacher State Park after its acquisition in 1914. Learn more about the history of Thacher State Park.
Key BCA Criteria:
- Migratory concentration site
- Diverse species concentration site
- Species at risk site
The John Boyd Thacher/Thompson's Lake BCA consists of portions of two nearly contiguous State Parks in Albany County. John Boyd Thacher sits atop the Helderberg escarpment, a 100 foot high calcareous cliff. The BCA is especially important because its diverse habitats support a wide variety of birds of prey. Thacher is dominated by forested uplands. The Thompson's Lake area consists of additional upland forest, old fields and a bur oak-black ash swamp adjacent to the lake. The lake itself is not owned by OPRHP.
There are 171 species of birds that have been identified within the J.B. Thacher and Thompson's Lake BCA, of which 102 are confirmed or probable breeders, including: Sharp-shinned hawk (Special Concern), Cooper's Hawk (Special Concern), Northern Goshawk (Special Concern) and Golden-winged Warbler (Special Concern). The forests support some of the area's highest densities of breeding songbirds such as Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Canada and Worm-eating Warblers and Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes. J. B. Thacher supported the first recent regional nesting of Common Ravens and is now the nucleus for the population in the area.
All persons hunting within the boundaries of the permitted hunting area of Thacher State Park must have a valid NYS hunting license, archery license, muzzle loading license and/or turkey permit as required by Environmental Conservation Law. A special permit, issued by Thacher State Park, is also required. Permits can be obtained at the park office at no charge.
Rifles of any caliber or handgun of any type is strictly prohibited. Muzzle loader or shotgun only. Bow hunting in designated areas. With the exception that all hunting ends on March 31st of each year, the hunting schedule follows the hunting season as outlined by New York State DEC for NYSDEC wildlife management unit (WMU) 4H; this is considered the "Southern Zone." All NYSDEC regulations and provisions pertaining to WMU 4H apply. Hunting within 500 feet of any building or road is strictly prohibited. No structures of any kind. Tree stands must be climber style or lock on. All tree stands must be removed daily.
Hunters must display the park issued parking registration form on the dashboard whenever parked in one of the designated hunting parking areas. Hunters must carry the park issued hunting permit on their person at all times when hunting in the park. The permit must be displayed upon request to any park employee or officer. Sign in/sign out sheets will be placed on the map boxes in the three designated parking areas. Hunters are required to sign in and out each day they hunt.
Hunting permits include a report; the report must be completed and returned to the park office by March 31st.
Hunting is permitted from sunrise to sunset.
*Please note: Hunting is not permitted within 500 feet of any building, road, playground, or parking lot, and all trails are considered safety zones where hunting is not allowed.
Ever wonder what it was like to attend school in the early 1900's? Take a walk back in time to visit a historic one-room schoolhouse. Learn about life in a rural school, who was in attendance, and how the teacher managed to teach all grade levels in one room! Afterwards, warm up around the campfire and enjoy hot cocoa and toasted marshmallows. Walk is less than one-half mile in length. Program is appropriate for adults and children. Please call 872-0800 to register.
Make a unique bird feeder to take home and hang in your yard. Bring a plastic net bag - the kind onions come in. We will go outside and look for native berries that birds love to use in our muffin mix! While they bake we will use binoculars and field guides to view and study the birds at our feeders. Take home a feeder and a list of shrubs that will feed the birds in your yard. Free program is open to adults and children. Call 872-0800 to register.
While the aroma of balsam is still in the air, take time to appreciate the season's color, green! We'll take an easy walk to find several species of conifers and learn how to identify them by their leaves (needles) and cones. Then we'll warm up at the Nature Center with some hot cocoa and make a simple tree ID guide to take home. This program is appropriate for adults and school-aged children. Please call 872-0800 to register.
End the year on a fun, energetic note by taking a walk outdoors! We'll put on snowshoes if there's snow and explore the Nature Center's lovely trails that meander through diverse habitats. Snacks and sparkling juice will be available afterwards. Program is appropriate for all ages, so bring the family! Please call 872-0800 to register, reserve snowshoes, and confirm conditions.
Join us on a winter walk through woods and fields on Nature Center trails. We'll explore a variety of habitats and look for signs of wildlife. Bring your snowshoes or rent a pair of ours. If we don't have snow, we'll take a winter walk. Call 872-0800 to register, reserve snowshoes, and check conditions.