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

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395. The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s. Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog? 

The Vague Original Southern Terminus of US Route 91 in the Californian Mojave Desert

One of the more intriguing mysteries of the early US Route System in California is where the original south terminus of US Route 91 was intended to be located in the Mojave Desert.  This blog is a little different than my usual behind the wheel fare and explores why US Route 91 ultimately ended at US Route 66 in Daggett instead of Bannock. What ultimately became the US Route System was first discussed during the American Association of State Highway Officials ("AASHO") during their annual 1924 meeting.  Ultimately the AASHO recommended to the Department of Agriculture to work with the States to develop a system of Interstate Highways to replace the many Auto Trails in use.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways was ultimately commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and it's branch agency the Bureau of Public Roads in March of 1925.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways first met in April of 1925 and decided on the new interstate road network would be known a

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  The Ridge Route is a 44 mile section of highway which was completed in 1915.  The Ridge Route originally stretched from Castaic Junction north over Liebre Summit and Tejon Pass to the tiny community of Grapevine.  In spite of a roadway that once utilized nearly 700 curves the Ridge Route is generally considered far ahead of it's time and one of the first modern highways constructed for automotive use.