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

Support the New Thacher Park Center: Sponsor a Brick Paver.

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.

Geocache Challenge 2016

2016 Geocache Challenge Passport


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.

Sun 04 Dec
Holiday Bazaar at Thacher Nature Center
Sunday, December 4, 2016 11:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

Shop for unique hand-crafted gifts made by local artisans and crafters, including jewelry, hand knit woolens, soaps and beauty products, wildlife photography, honey and beeswax products, delicious foods and snack items and much more. Find nature books, wooden toys, and stocking stuffers in our gift shop, too. Enjoy live music that'll put you in the holiday spirit. Please call 872-0800 for more information.

Registration: Required
Sat 10 Dec
Hike to Historic Knox School #5 at Thacher Nature Center
Saturday, December 10, 2016 02:00 PM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

Ever wonder what it was like to attend school in the early 1900's? Take a walk back in time to visit a historic one-room schoolhouse. Learn about life in a rural school, who was in attendance, and how the teacher managed to teach all grade levels in one room! Afterwards, warm up around the campfire and enjoy hot cocoa and toasted marshmallows. Walk is less than one-half mile in length. Program is appropriate for adults and children. Please call 872-0800 to register.

Registration: Required
Wed 28 Dec
Tasty Treats for Winter Birds at Thacher Nature Center
Wednesday, December 28, 2016 10:00 AM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

Make a unique bird feeder to take home and hang in your yard. Bring a plastic net bag - the kind onions come in. We will go outside and look for native berries that birds love to use in our muffin mix! While they bake we will use binoculars and field guides to view and study the birds at our feeders. Take home a feeder and a list of shrubs that will feed the birds in your yard. Free program is open to adults and children. Call 872-0800 to register.

Registration: Required
Fri 30 Dec
Evergreen Walk at Thacher Nature Center
Friday, December 30, 2016 10:00 AM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

While the aroma of balsam is still in the air, take time to appreciate the season's color, green! We'll take an easy walk to find several species of conifers and learn how to identify them by their leaves (needles) and cones. Then we'll warm up at the Nature Center with some hot cocoa and make a simple tree ID guide to take home. This program is appropriate for adults and school-aged children. Please call 872-0800 to register.

Registration: Required
Sat 31 Dec
Nearly New Year Snowshoe Walk at Thacher Nature Center
Saturday, December 31, 2016 10:00 AM
Thacher State Park
(518) 872-0800

End the year on a fun, energetic note by taking a walk outdoors! We'll put on snowshoes if there's snow and explore the Nature Center's lovely trails that meander through diverse habitats. Snacks and sparkling juice will be available afterwards. Program is appropriate for all ages, so bring the family! Please call 872-0800 to register, reserve snowshoes, and confirm conditions.

Registration: Required

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Did You Know? The caves here support 1 of only 8 known hibernacula for Indiana bats in NY.

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