The Indian Ladder Trail

I love hiking. During the summer one of my favorite things to do (when I have the time) is hike on my great uncle’s Hill. Years ago my family and I would hike up there and spend hours harvesting herbs (plantain; elecampane; elderberries; mullein). And some of my fondest memories are from when I was a child and we’d take a picnic lunch up on the hill, drink Cream Soda and my sister and I would climb a fallen tree shaped, believe it or not, exactly like a dragon’s head.

But this year my family and I did something special. When a friend from out of state came over, we decided to visit Thacher State Park. Situated along the Helderberg Escarpment, which is one of the richest fossil formations in the world, Thacher Park protects 6 miles of limestone cliffs. And the view is stunning. Words cannot do justice to the breadth and beauty captured by the eye on a glorious summer day. From the top-most look-out point one can see a breath-taking panoramic spectacle: the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack Mountains behind which Vermont’s Green Mountains rise sharp and distinct in the hazy blue background.P1060363The Park is most known for it’s famous Indian Ladder Trail. And that’s what we hiked. Wow. It was awesome. I was a bit nervous at times – one is basically walking on a foot-path above and below which are sheer cliffs. But it was still pretty amazing.

P1060372

The entrance to the Indian Ladder Trail. It began and ended with several flights of stairsP1060375

The sign reads: “Stay on the Trail”. I thought it was pretty funny. Seemed quite obvious to me to stay on the trail! 🙂P1060377An underground stream – we could hear the water rumbling and roaring deep insideP1060398The Minelot Falls are a special attraction but since there’s been so little rain this year there was no spectacular waterfall. But I did get a neat picture of boulders, one in particular looks exactly like a giant brick, color and all!P1060410There are a few caves along the Ladder Trail. And some brave people decided to go spelunkingP1060389P1060392

For perspective: the trail is at the bottom of the photo looking up the cliffsP1060383And another to show how sheer the cliffs areP1060374With imagination this rock formation jutting out from the cliff looks like an eagle in flight – or a cardinal’s headP1060435

The mighty conquerorsP1060408

This is a view of the trail from above. The Ladder Trail runs below the tree line and the Escarpment Trail runs on top of the cliffsP1060361On our hike we passed a tree where this Indigo Bunting perched singing his heart outP1060433History records that during the Burgoyne Invasion of 1777, Jacob Salisbury, a spy, found refuge from the settlers in a cave against the cliffs at the head of the Indian Ladder Trail. When we finished hiking the trail, we tried to find the Tory cave but didn’t. Perhaps if we had gone on one of the guided tours they would’ve pointed it out. Oh well.

Nonetheless, hiking this trail which has been used since colonial times was so much fun. Even though it’s a tourist attraction now it’s still amazing to me to walk the same path which the Iroquois and settlers used hundreds of years ago. The trail itself is living history. If the stones could speak I wonder what stories they would tell, what visions they have seen, what secrets they have heard.

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