Skip to main content

Thacher State Park

Editor's Note (5/15/2020): According to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, trails are open but the visitor center is closed and there are no restrooms available. In addition, please note that the Indian Ladder Trail is closed, and the Overlook parking area is now only one-way traffic.

With gorgeous panoramic views of the Adirondacks, Green Mountains and Hudson-Mohawk Valleys, John Boyd Thacher Park is definitely worth checking out.

view finder looking out over view at sunsetPhoto credit: Greg Hanselman

Picnic, Hike, Bike & More

Located along the Helderberg Escarpment, just 15 miles southwest of Albany, this New York State park preserves six miles of limestone cliffs, rock-strewn slopes, woodlands, and open fields. The park has volleyball courts, playgrounds, ball fields, and picnic areas. There are over 25 additional miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

The Indian Ladder Trail, that runs up the Helderberg Escarpment and includes two waterfalls, is most popular among hikers. The park is also known for having one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world, and it's a prime place for birding in the Capital Region.

A Birder's Paradise

hawk on branchCooper's hawk

Thacher Park and nearby Thompson's Lake are designated as a Bird Conservation Area. According to the DEC, approximately 171 species of birds have been identified here, 102 of which are confirmed or probable breeders, including the Sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, Northern goshawk, and the Golden-winged warbler, all of which are labeled as Special Concern species.

The forests support songbirds like Hermit thrush, Winter wren, Magnolia, Black-throated blue, Black-throated green, Blackburnian, Canada and Worm-eating warblers, and Louisiana and Northern waterthrushes. Thacher Park supported the first common Raven nest in the region, and is now considered the nucleus for the area's population.

Great birding can be found along the Indian Ladder Trail, the Paint Mine Trail, and any of the woodland trails, particularly in the spring and summer. You can also enjoy birding in the fields along Ketcham Road, which are managed for grassland species.

See the Bird Check List from Audubon New York >>

About the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center

Visiting the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center is a great chance to explore exhibits and displays of geological models, a live honeybee observation hive, bird viewing, fossils, furs and other hands-on exhibits. There are trails which lead from the center to the Thompson's Lake that are great for hiking or skiing. The center also offers educational opportunities for kids.

The center is open year-round from 9am to 5pm, closed Mondays. It is located at 87 Nature Center Way in Voorheesville and can be reached by calling 518.872.0800.

Things to Enjoy

  • Picnic Areas and Pavilions
  • Volleyball Courts
  • Playing Fields
  • Playgrounds
  • Recreation Programs
  • Guided Tours of the Indian Ladder Trails
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Mountain Biking

Winter Fun

  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling

Contact Information

Contact: 518.872.1237

Other New York State Parks in the Capital District

<< Back to the Birding Guide

<< Back to Albany Parks