Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Thacher State Park

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Address
1 Hailes Cave Road
Voorheesville, NY 12186
Latitude 42.641819
Longitude -73.991592

Geocache Challenge 2016

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.

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.

Learn more, watch WMHT's documentary: 'The Great Ledge: Exploring Thacher' 


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.

Hours of Operation

  • Nature Center: Tuesdays - Sundays, 9am-5pm, year round.
    Interpretive Programs: Year-round. Call for details.

  • Day Use/Picnicking/Hiking/Nature: Available year round.
    The Indian Ladder Trail is open 5/1-11/15, weather permitting. All other trails are open year round.
  • Picnic Shelters: May - October. Some available year round. Advance reservations available by contacting Park Office.
  • Skiing, Snowmobiling and Mountain Biking: Available on designated trails only.
  • The park is open year round, 7am until sunset.

Fees & Rates

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.

  • Picnic Shelters
  • 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

  • Snowshoeing Rentals
  • $10 per day
    $5 less than 4 hours
  • Tent (20' x 30')
  • $75

Highlights of Thacher State Park:

  • Thacher has a limestone landscape! The dissolution of limestone bedrock gives rise to Karst features: sinkholes, caves, disappearing streams, and springs.
  • The park is a migration corridor for hawks and a Fall Hawk Watch is set up at the park overlook every year during the mid-September peak period. On a good day, hundreds of hawks can be seen passing overhead.
  • On the first warm rainy nights in spring, usually late March/early April here, volunteers gather to help salamanders cross the road on their journey to breed in vernal ponds.
  • The honeybees in the observation hive at the Nature Center are busy: the queen is laying eggs, and the workers are raising larva and gathering nectar and pollen.
  • Ripe nuts from our native trees are an important source of winter food stores for wildlife. On the Helderberg Escarpment, the most abundant nut trees are oak, hickory, and beech. Acorns are especially important winter food for deer, squirrels, and chipmunks.
  • With an elevation of over 1100 feet, the Helderbergs average 8 degrees colder than the valley and receive much more snow in the winter. Thacher Park is a favorite destination for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The ground may be bare in Albany when there is deep snow in the park.
  • Thacher's Nature Center was voted into the "Top 20 Places to Take Kids in the Capital Region" by Kids Out and About.

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!

  • Keep your dog on a leash to protect ground nesting birds and small mammals in the woods.
  • Use trails when geocaching and place caches within 20 feet of the trail.
  • Learn about invasive species and volunteer for removal projects.
  • Buy your firewood at the campground and leave behind what you don't burn.

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.

Download a copy of the BCA map.

Go birding with the Thacher Park Bird Checklist. 


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.

Sat 28 May
Bird Walk at Thacher Nature Center
Saturday, May 28, 2016 08:30 AM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

Migrant bird species are back and birdsong is in the air. Join expert birder Denise Hackett-Stoner on a walk through field, forest, and lakeshore habitats. Bring binoculars or borrow a pair of ours. Call 872-0800 to register or to confirm program in the event of extreme weather.

Registration: Required
Sat 28 May
Indian Ladder Trail Guided Walk
Saturday, May 28, 2016 02:00 PM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

Descend the cliff and learn about the geologic and cultural history of the Helderbergs on this scenic and historic trail. See underground streams, look for fossils and step inside the crevice cave along the trail. Trail is moderately rugged with stairclimbing and a couple of steep slopes. Wear sturdy shoes and meet at the Indian Ladder picnic area. Walk lasts about 1.5 hours. Call 872-0800 to register.

Registration: Required
Sat 04 Jun
National Trails Day at Thacher Park
Saturday, June 4, 2016 08:30 AM - 12:30 AM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-1237

If you love to use the great trails at Thacher Park, this is the time to show your appreciation. Come and help out with trail maintenance projects for the morning and stay for lunch, compliments of the Friends of Thacher Park. Call 872-1237 to register or for more information.

Registration: Required
Sat 04 Jun
Trails Day Hike at Thacher Park
Saturday, June 4, 2016 02:00 PM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

Celebrate National Trails Day with a hike in the park! We'll meet at Ryan Road parking area for a two-mile loop through the North zone of Thacher Park. This hike is appropriate for adults and kids ages 7 and up. Bring a snack and water and wear sturdy shoes. Please call 872-0800 to register and for meeting place.

Sun 05 Jun
Explore the Bluebird Trail at Thacher Nature Center
Sunday, June 5, 2016 02:00 PM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

Want to see an Eastern Bluebird? Sneak a peek at some Tree Swallow hatchlings? Our Bluebird Trail winds through fields and woods with homes for over 25 nesting pairs of birds. Join us as we check on who's in our nest boxes and monitor and record data on several bird species. Bring binoculars and be prepared to walk on uneven terrain. Program is free and open to all ages. Space is limited, please call 872-0800 to register.

Registration: Required

Get Directions

Did You Know? The narrow cave along the Indian Ladder Trail’s cliff wall provides cool relief in the summer!

Amenities, Activities & Information

  • Amenities
  • Camper Assistance Program
  • Camper Recreation
  • Campsites
  • Grills
  • Nature Trails
  • Pavilions (Accessible)
  • Picnic Tables (Accessible)
  • Playgrounds
  • Playing Fields
  • Scenic Views
  • Waterfalls
  • Activities
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Recreation Programs
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing Trails
  • X-Country Skiing