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NEW SCOTLAND—The Indian Ladder Trail, a popular local tourist attraction for generations, is under threat of never opening again.
The two-mile footpath was etched into the soft limestone on the cliff side of the Helderberg Escarpment after the last Ice Age, more than 13,000 years ago, when glaciers scraped across upstate New York. It has long been a place of interest for both nature lovers and history buffs, providing picturesque views of both the Hudson and Mohawk valleys. Hikers who have traversed the trail are rewarded by small caves and cascading waterfalls within and above the nooks and crannies of its surface.
However, the very same properties which created the natural masterpiece have also led to a string of incidents in which hikers have been injured. Limestone is susceptible to water erosion and often leads to rock falls. State officials closed the Indian Ladder Trail indefinitely last summer after injuries from falling rocks left a local woman paralyzed.
The New York state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is still in the process of making a decision whether or not to reopen the trail to the public on Memorial Day, the day on which state parks open their trails for the summer season.
The department is “currently conducting an assessment to identify what additional steps, if any, need to be taken to open the trail this season,” spokesman Randy Simons told The Times Union last week. It is not clear when OPRHP officials plan to make an announcement about the trail’s future.
Nancy Ladd-Butz, the local hiker who was seriously injured by falling rocks as she walked the trail last July, has filed a lawsuit against the state.
More than 300,000 people visit Thacher Park every year. Last May, the state opened a brand new $4.3 million park center. The 8,240 square-foot building was a signature project in the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 Plan. Open year-round, it serves as a launching point for visitors to explore the 2,500-acre park. The center was built in close proximity to the start of the Indian Ladder Trail because of its popularity.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.