Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center

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The Indian Ladder Trail at Thacher State Park is closed until further notice.

87 Nature Center Way
Voorheesville, NY 12186
Latitude 42.655132
Longitude -74.042389

The Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center opened in July 2001 and is located in Thompson's Lake Campground at Thacher State Park. The center offers year-round educational programs for school groups, youth organizations, clubs and the general public. Exhibits and displays include a geologic model of the Helderberg Escarpment, a live honeybee observation hive, bird viewing area, fossils, furs and other hands-on collections. Trails for hiking and skiing lead from the nature center to the lake, through woodlands and fields.

Learn more, watch WMHT's doccumentary: The Great Ledge 

Not allowed inside Nature Center.

Hours of Operation

  • Nature Center is open year-round, 9 am to 5 pm
    Closed on Mondays and holidays.

Program Descriptions

Experience Thacher Nature Center (year round):

This is a great program for first time visitors of all ages! Our hands on exhibits include lie turtles, honeybee observation hive, animal furs and skulls, bird observation window with binoculars, microscope, fossils and more! Students will explore the Nature Center through a written find and seek activiity. This program includes a nature walk through gfiled and forest habitats.

Busy Bees (May-October):

Learn about the lifecycle of the honeybee, and the important role they play in the antural world. Observe a real beehive to see the queen, drones and workers as they busily do their jobs. Try on beekeeping equipment to learn how beekeepers tend to their hives.

Geology of the Indian Ladder Trail (May-October):

New York was underwater 400 million years ago. See and learn about fossils, limestone, and the process that created the Helderberg Escarpment. Follow the trail down the cliff, under waterfalls and over underground streams. Suitable for elementary through high school earth science studies. Can be combined with a visit to the Nature Center.

Getting to Know Birds (year round):

Birds are everywhere, from the forest to an urban street! Learn the habits of some of the birds that frequent our feeders, or your schoolyard. Topics could include beginning birding techniques, bird adaptations, bird songs and more.

Seasons and Senses (year round):

This program is ideal for preschoolers and grades K-1. Children use their senses to explore the natural world and learn about the current season. Program includes sensory activities, exploration of the Nature Center and a nature walk.

Lifecycle of a Tree (year round)

The forest ecosystem is a community that depends on trees. Learn about the lifecycle of a tree, from seed to rotted log. Activities may include: build-your-own living tree, play habitat hotel, or get to know the trees in our forest or your schoolyard using identification keys,

Animals in Winter (winter only):

Winter can be a harsh season for wildlife, but animals have many different ways of surviving the cold months. Find out who remains active, who hibernates, and who skips town! Learn to look for evidence of animal life in thet racks and other signs they leave behind. If conditions are good, we'll strap on snowshoes and take an exciting invigorating walk on the Nature Center's trails or in your schoolyard.


To schedule a field trip or outreach program in your classroom, please call 518-872-0800 or email Megan Mansfield at

Sun 23 Jul
Native Plant Gardens Tour at Thacher Nature Center
Sunday, July 23, 2017 10:00 AM
Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center
(518) 872-0800

Join the native plant "craze". Enjoy views of the lake and listen to birdsong while visiting the native plant gardens. Native plants aren't weeds – they are beautiful, unexpected and easy to grow. View native cactus, shrubs that feed birds, and larval host plants for butterflies. Learn where, how and why to grow beautiful plants that make your backyard a wildlife sanctuary. Call 518-872-0800 to register.

Sat 29 Jul
Paint an Eastern Box Turtle at Thacher Nature Center
Saturday, July 29, 2017 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center
(518) 872-0800

Kids will have fun using mixed media to create the texture of an Eastern Box Turtle. They will learn some fun facts about the turtle as they learn how to paint it. Ages 7-13 are welcome. The cost is $20 per student. All supplies are included and students will take home a memorable painting. Space is limited, so register soon by calling 518-872-0800.

Registration: Required
Sun 30 Jul
Evening Walk on the Indian Ladder Trail at Thacher Park
Sunday, July 30, 2017 07:00 PM
Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center
(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 Trailhead behind the Visitor Center. Walk lasts about 1.5 hours. Park entrance fee is $6 per vehicle. Call 518-872-0800 to register.

Sat 05 Aug
Tales Told by the Rocks
Saturday, August 5, 2017 10:00 AM
Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center
(518) 872-0800

Explore the basics of Thacher Park geology! Beneath our feet lies the story of a time long, long ago. A very different environment existed here 400 million years ago. Find out what makes the park so special, and then take a walk to check out some limestone landscape features and look for ancient fossils. Meet at Thacher Visitor Center. Park entrance fee is $6 per vehicle. Call 518-872-0800 to register.

Sun 06 Aug
Spectacular Monarchs at Thacher Nature Center
Sunday, August 6, 2017 02:00 PM
Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center
(518) 872-0800

Monarch butterflies are fascinating insects that make an amazing journey every winter. Learn all about their life cycle and their annual migration to Mexico. Find out what you can do to help this beautiful, yet imperiled butterfly. Short indoor presentation followed by a walk through monarch habitat. Call 518-872-0800 to register.

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Did You Know? We're #1! Our nature center made the top 20 list of places to take kids in the Capital District!