One of my favorite things about living in the Northeast is the fall foliage. I love the change of seasons, and we look forward to seeing the leaves change. When I think about leaf peeping, I usually think about the Indian Ladder Trail. If you live in the Capital Region, this hike is not to be missed!
This trail is part of John Boyd Thacher State Park, located in Voorheesville, which is a part of the Albany area. While the trail is not particularly long, it makes for a nice scenic hike, and afterwards you can have a picnic and play on the playgrounds.
We usually park by the “yellow playground” and walk towards the direction of the new visitor’s center, where you find an entrance. If you search Google Maps for “Indian Ladder Trail”, it should pop up. The trail is a loop, so you hike down to the main trail, and can loop back to your starting point on the upper trail.
The hike starts with a metal staircase. While it is steep, it is sturdy and has hand rails. There are a few spots where you have to go up or down staircases, so keep this in mind as far as hiking ability. For the most part, the trail is easy.
There is so much beautiful scenery to see on this hike. We have brought friends and family on the trail who were from out of town, and they had a great time. The views are quite impressive, and pretty cool that this is just a stone’s throw from Albany.
From wmht.org: “..1200 foot limestone cliffs formed over 100 million years ago, yielding dramatic views, subterranean caves, waterfalls, fossils, and miles of trails. The park also resonates with human history. Native Americans trails traversed the cliffs, the caves were a refuge for British loyalists during the American Revolution, in the 1800’s it was the site of the anti-rent wars, and was a key locale in the burgeoning new science of geology.”
One of the fun things about the Indian Ladder Trail is that depending on the time of year, the scenery is very different.
Sometimes when we go, there is an intense waterfall – and other times there is no waterfall at all.
Sometimes we see lots of red efts, but it depends on the time of year.
Our kids have enjoyed going on the trail several times, keeping an eye out for things they can find in nature, from critters to “fairy ponds” where water collects under the waterfall, or nooks to check out. There are some informative signs along the way that provide some really interesting history about the park.
After we are done, we stop to take a snack break, or the kids head right to the playgrounds or zipline. There is a yellow playground close to the trailhead, then a younger kid’s playground, and if you keep walking, you’ll find a zipline and small rock wall. The kids love going on this and it is fun for all ages.
Tips for your trip to the Indian Ladder Trail:
~ BE CAREFUL. Especially with kids and dogs. For younger kids, it is imperative that they are good listeners. There are spots where they need to stay away from the edge, as there are steep drop offs, and they should be careful on the staircases as well (I usually have a parent walk in front and in back).
~ Bring snacks/water. Although this is by no means a long hike, it helps to be prepared – and so many times, we end up spending hours in the park between the trail and playground – so by then, everyone is thirsty and hungry.
~ We usually go in the morning to avoid any crowds. It is nice to enjoy the scenery when it is quiet, and I imagine there are times the trail gets busy. Plus, less crowds means the possibility of some great photos!
~ Check out the new visitor’s center. (It is currently being completed).
~ And of course, be respectful. Leave no trace. This is a great message for kids to learn at a young age, so lead by example! Leave flora and fauna alone. Pick up litter along the way if you can.
The Indian Ladder Trail is open 5/1-11/15, weather permitting. Keep in mind that the trail will be gated and inaccessible when it is closed, so check their website or keep in mind that it may be locked 11/15-5/1.
Check out the NYS Park website for more info.
Thacher Park Visitor’s center: http://thacherparkcenter.org/