My family spent many winter weekends hiking the trails of Thacher Park on snowshoes and we were eagerly awaiting the spring when Indian Ladder Trail would open. When the state closed the park due to budget constraints, I was really devastated that I would not get a chance to experience, what I would now claim to be an Albany resident's right of passage. I had read and heard so many great things about this specific trail that once it reopened, I seized the day- at nearly 9 months pregnant. I just didn't want to miss my chance. I am hopeful that the parks will remain open but I would encourage anyone who hasn't experienced Indian Ladder Trail to also get out there and take advantage now. Perhaps, once you do, you will see why people were in an uproar when the governor ordered the park closed.
The Helderberg Escarpment is made up of several hundred feet of limestone cliffs. From the top, you can overlook the Capital Region and part of the Hudson River Valley. The escarpment is said to be the world's oldest, exposed limestone and also contains some of the best fossil bearing formations.
If you park at the overlook, you will walk along the wood fence, which is called Cliff Top Trail. About 1/2 mile in, there are stairs that lead down to the base of the cliff, which is the beginning of Indian Ladder Trail. There is a metal staircase that descends about sixty feet to the base of the escarpment. The trail was built by the Schoharie Indians as a trading route and where the metal staircase is today, there was an actual ladder.
The 1/2 mile trail is just awesome. The limestone cliffs are mind-blowing, absolutely stunning. There are two waterfalls that come from the water of Thompson Lake, about 2 miles away. The water makes its way through the porous limestone and creates the falls. You will also pass underground streams, caves, and fossil-bearing rock formations.
The hike is very manageable for most people, including children. My two year old did great, and I already mentioned that I was very pregnant during this hike. You do need to keep your eye on small kids and it'll require some hand-holding. Most of the trail is fenced but it is a long way down! Once you get to the end of the trail, there is another metal staircase that leads you back up to Cliff Top Trail so you can journey back to the parking area. Total hike is about two miles.
Indian Ladder Trail is open until mid-October. It makes for a great afternoon and would be an awesome place to take visitors. So Carpe Diem! Get out there and see for yourself!
For more information:
1 Hailes Cave Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186