VOORHEESVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — John Boyd Thacher State Park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, snowmobiling and many other activities all year-round. The park is located just 15 miles outside of Albany, but who is the park named after?

John Boyd Thacher was a New York State Senator for Albany County from 1884 to 1885. He then went on to become Mayor of Albany from 1886 to 1888, and then again from 1896 to 1897.

According to New York State Parks, John Boyd Thacher and his wife, Emma Treadwell Thacher, began acquiring land along the Helderberg Escarpment in Voorheesville in 1906 to protect it from development. When John Boyd Thacher died in 1909, the couple owned several ridge-top parcels of land.

Emma Thacher later donated 350 acres, in honor of her husband, to the state for public parkland. In 1914, management of the park was delegated to the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society (ASHPS). This organization formed in 1895 to protect scenic and historic sites. Emma Thacher died in 1927.

The ASHPS surveyed the land and constructed trails, picnic areas and camping areas. By 1927, the 900-acre park included the Indian Ladder Trail, a scenic path below the escarpment. New York State Parks said the new state highway improved access and increased visitation to the park.

Thacher State Park may be named after John Boyd Thacher, but the nature center is named after Emma Thacher. The Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center opened in July 2001. The center offers educational programs and has exhibits and displays including a geologic model of the Helderberg Escarpment, a live honeybee observation hive, bird viewing area, fossils, furs and other collections.

The overlook at Thacher State Park (credit: Sara Rizzo)

Located on the escarpment, the Thacher Park overlook provides a view of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains. It overlook the towns of Berne, Guilderland, Knox and New Scotland.

According to the Open Space Institute, the park welcomes more than 380,000 visitors every year. Over the past 20 years, the park has expanded by over 1,200 acres.

The park as a lot to offer, including:

  • Hiking trails
  • Biking
  • Campsites, cabins and lodging
  • Disc golf
  • Picnic areas
  • Grills
  • Hunting
  • Pavilions and shelter rentals
  • Playgrounds
  • Playing fields
  • Volleyball courts
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Waterfalls

More information about Thacher State Park can be found on the New York State Parks website.