Thacher Park, 7/23

Thacher Park is one of my favorite local places. Perched high on the Helderberg Escarpment, the views to the east across the Hudson valley clear across to Vermont and Massachusetts are spectacular, while Turkey Vultures and Ravens take advantage of the strong updrafts and soar above, below, at eye level.

The Indian Ladder Trail runs below the cliff’s edge so streams cascade from above and offer a cool spray on a summer day. Rock-clinging ferns, lichens, and wildflowers decorate the stable rocks, while massive fallen boulders and the long talus slope give evidence of the power of erosion. Upstream creeks thunder in the spring melt exposing fossils like trilobites in the streambeds.

Almost 700 acres have been added to the park recently, so we decided to explore some of those new trails. The point we started from is a reclaimed quarry mined down to the bedrock, making excellent footing. This wooded area led out across fields to a small but active pond, with a shaded bench and remarkably few mosquitoes. On the way back we were intrigued (as who wouldn’t be?) by the Hang-glider Trail, so we followed that to the end and its unfenced jumping-off point.

We got a little turned around at an ambiguously-marked crossing and the day had gotten sticky, so we decided to save the rest of the North Trails for another day. Not a very birdy day at all, unsurprising for midday in midsummer, except for the ubiquitous Red-eyed Vireos, Common Yellowthroats, Ovenbirds, and Cedar Waxwings. I think it will be worth trying next spring, especially the young forest.

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