On Cinco de Mayo last year, I was lucky enough to help out at John Boyd Thacher and Thompson’s Lake State Parks (the state parks closest to my home in Albany) on the first-ever I Love My Park Day. These two parks sit on the Helderberg Escarpment, rising 400 feet from the Hudson Valley hills it abuts. The trail that lines the bottom on the escarpment’s sharp cliffs is the Indian Ladder trail—named so because early settlers would fell trees onto the cliffs and then call the ensuing ramps “Indian ladders.” I was lucky enough to do maintenance and repairs on this unique trail on I Love My Park Day, co-hosted at Thacher by Friends of Thacher Park and Thompson’s Lake State Park.
It’s a good thing I came with energy that morning! Our job was to rake excess rocks from parts of the trail where the limestone continued to shed its distinct layers. We then placed these rocks in 5 gallon buckets and carried them to the staircase under one of the most scenic places in Thacher, Mine Lot Falls. Just beyond the falls, the stone stairs needed extra reinforcement. Our rock rearranging could do the trick.
The rain fell that morning, but I didn’t notice—was the water on my back from the rain, the waterfall, or my own sweat as I lifted bucket after bucket of rocks? In just one morning, we reinforced an entire stone staircase—a job that would have taken days with only one or two park staff members. Our group was spirited and fun, and even included New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, who hauled rocks in the drizzle with the rest of us.
I love my local state parks, John Boyd Thacher and Thompson’s Lakes. Which NYS parks do you love?
I Love My Park Day is coordinated statewide by Parks & Trails New York in collaboration with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.