Skip to main content

John Boyd Thacher State Park - Indian Ladder Trail

Located approximately 15 miles southwest of Albany along NY State Route 157, John Boyd Thacher State Park offers some of the most expansive and panoramic views in the Capital Region.  Standing on the top of the Helderberg Escarpment, the over 100 year old state park is home to numerous hiking trails, rock climbing, camping and many outdoor picnic and recreation facilities.
The Albany Skyline can easily be seen from the Indian Ladder Trail.
The most popular hiking trail within the park is the Indian Ladder Trail.  A 2.5 mile journey along the limestone cliffs is an excellent quick hike that offers amazing views and a few surprises along the way.

At an elevation of nearly 1200 feet above sea level, the escarpment sits nearly 800 feet over the Hudson Valley.  Helderberg in Dutch means "Clear Mountain"; and on a clear day, the views from the park and trail are amazing.  In addition to panoramic views of the valley and the Albany skyline, the Taconic, Adirondack, Massachusetts' Berkshire, and Vermont's Green Mountains can easily be seen.

Examples of the many mini-caves that can be found along the Indian Ladder Trail


Since the escarpment is made of limestone, there are numerous small caves along the Indian Ladder Trail.  If you have time, try to locate various fossils within the limestone rocks.  The escarpment and specifically the park is well known for fossils embedded within the limestone.

Minelot Falls
Minelot Falls is another attraction along the Indian Ladder Trail.  The trail passes under the 116 foot waterfall.  Unfortunately, when I visited the falls were not as strong as they could be.

In recent years, the park and trail has faced various closures or attempted in closures.  In 2010, as a result of a state budget deficit, then Governor David Patterson attempted to close the park as a cost cutting measure.  As a result of public outcry and local efforts, the park remained open.


The Indian Ladder Trail was closed for nearly a year from July 2017 through June 2018 as a result of rocks from the escarpment falling and landing on a visitor.  As a result of thousands of years of erosion there are many loose rocks along the cliffs of the escarpment that can pose a danger to hikers.  The state conducted a scaling and clean up project that removed numerous loose rocks from the cliffs along the trail.

All photos taken by post author - July 3, 2005

Getting There:


Further Reading:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Former California State Route 1 over Old Pedro Mountain Road

California State Route 1 in western San Mateo County traverses the Montara Mountain spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  In modern times California State Route 1 passes through Montara Mountain via the Tom Lantos Tunnels and the highway is traditionally associated with Devils Slide.  Although Devils Slide carries an infamous legacy due it being prone landslides it pales in comparison to the alignment California State Route 1 carried prior to November 1937 over Old Pedro Mountain Road.   Old Pedro Mountain Road opened to traffic in 1915 and is considered one of the first major asphalted highways in California.  Old Pedro Mountain Road clambers over a grade from Montara towards Pacifica via the 922 foot high Saddle Pass.  Pictured above an overlook of Old Pedro Mountain Road facing southward towards Montara as it appears today.  Pictured below it the same view during June 1937 when it was part of the original alignment of California State Route 1.  Today Old Pedro Mountain sits abandoned a

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo

Originally US Route 101 upon descending Cuesta Pass southbound entered the City of San Luis Obispo via Monterey Street.  From Monterey Street US Route 101 utilized Santa Rosa Street and Higuera Street southbound through downtown San Luis Obispo.  Upon departing downtown San Luis Obispo US Route 101 would have stayed on Higuera Street southward towards Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande.  Notably; beginning in 1934 US Route 101 picked up California State Route 1 at the intersection of Monterey Street/Santa Rosa Street where the two would multiplex to Pismo Beach.  Pictured below is the 1 935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County depicting the original alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in the City of San Luis Obispo.   Part 1; the history of US Route 1 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo lies at the bottom of the Cuesta Pass (also known as the Cuesta Grade) which has made it favored corridor of travel for centuries.  Cuesta Pass