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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.
The Empire Pass -- whether a card for $80 or a vehicle-affixed decal for $65 -- is your key to all-season enjoyment with unlimited day-use entry at most facilities operated by State Parks and the State Dept. of Environmental Conservation including forests, beaches, trails and more. Apply online or contact your favorite park for more information. Learn more about our Admission Programs including the Empire Pass.
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.
Trees with eyes?! Sticks that walk?! Every day is April Fool's Day in the natural world. Some animals and plants use camouflage to disguise or conceal themselves for protection. Come and learn about different camouflage techniques used by plants and animals, both locally and worldwide. Then try your skill at detecting camouflage in a hide and seek activity. Call 872-0800 to register.
Take in the views from the cliff edge on this early spring walk. We'll take the Long Path out to Hailes Cave picnic shelter and walk the Escarpment Trail back, stopping to take in a cliff top perspective of the Indian Ladder Trail and the rushing waters of Outlet and Mine Lot Falls. Walk is about 1.5 miles in length and is over fairly level terrain with one short, steep section. Participants should dress for cool, damp weather and muddy trails. Please call 872-0800 to register.
Spring is the best time to enjoy waterfalls in the park. Minelot and Outlet Falls spill over the cliff above the Indian Ladder Trail and rushing streams cascade down rocky slopes at Paint Mine and Hop Field. We'll choose our trail based on conditions at the time. Call 872-0800 to register and for more information.
Invite beautiful Bluebirds or mosquito-eating Tree Swallows into your yard! Our kits are pre-cut and pre-drilled, all hardware included. You will learn how to correctly place and monitor your nest box. This program is open to adults and children of all ages. Materials fee is $8. Bring a cordless screw gun and join the fun! Each child registered must be accompanied by an adult. Call 872-0800 to register and reserve your kit.
Meet some wild neighbors up close and personal and learn about where and how they live. Wildlife rehabilitator Kelly Martin will introduce some of the birds of prey and other animals in her care. Learn what to do if you find an abandoned or injured animal and how to help prevent wildlife emergencies. Please bring a donation to support Kelly's work. Call 872-0800 for more information.