Hang Glider Cliff Thacher State Park

Hang Glider Cliff Loop Hike

Hang Glider Cliff loop hike in John Boyd Thacher State Park on the Helderberg Escarpment is quite easy as hikes go to outstanding vistas. Along the way, you’ll have a nice (3.4-miles) jaunt in the woods. Being away from the main section of the park, this area tends to be more secluded. Thus, people looking for some quiet at this park may be well served to head out away from the campgrounds and southern trails and venture to the north.

Video of View from Hang Glider Cliff

The hike as we describe it starts from the trailhead at the end of Ryan Road. The parking area seems like it can accommodate about 10 cars and there is no fee for parking (unlike the main section of the park).

Ryan Road from the parking area
Ryan Road from the parking area Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking

Trailhead at Ryan Road
Trailhead at Ryan Road Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
From the trailhead box with maps (no register) head right into the woods. You’ll hike mostly on the level following the yellow marked Perimeter Trail. About .2-miles the trail will swing left and you’ll cross and footbridge.

Foot bridge on the Perimeter Trail
Foot bridge on the Perimeter Trail Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
As you hike, notice the diversity of flora. Pine and hardwoods including White Pine, Red Cedar, Basswood, Canadian yew, Dogwood, Rock elm, and much more. Wildlife is abundant in this remote section of the park, especially 171 species of bird. On this day we found fresh debris from a woodpecker making new roosting holes above.

Wood pecker roosting holes
Wood pecker roosting holes Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
After the bridge, you will quickly reach a junction with the Long Path. At the junction, coming in from your right is the Long Path from the south, you’ll continue straight going north on the Long Path with its aqua blazes.

Junction at the Perimeter Trail and Long Path
Junction at the Perimeter Trail and Long Path Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
The next .75-miles will wind gradually up to a height of land gaining about 100’ in elevation. There are decades of varied Long Path blazing. The standard blaze for the Long Path is a 2×4 inch painted blaze. However, in locations such as the Catskill Park plastic disks are used. As one hikes on this section of trail observe how many different ways and sized blazes have been made.

Long Path blaze
Long Path disks blaze on plastic Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
Long Path blaze
Long Path blaze Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking

Long Path blaze on rock cairn
Long Path blaze on rock cairn Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
During this section, hemlock and white birch will begin to line the trail. As the trail reaches a height of land and swings left you will soon reach a junction where the Long Path will drop off the ridge (.60 miles to cliffs) into a pretty glen and meet with the Hang Glider Road Trail. From this junction, you’ll now follow the magenta blazed path .4-miles to the overlook.

Chris hiking in White Birch
Chris hiking in White Birch Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking

Chris approaching Hang Glider Cliff
Chris approaching Hang Glider Cliff Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
The view from the cliff is outstanding. This place also a common place for hang gliders to launch from is a sight to behold. Watch out the cliff slopes downward to the drop. One slip and it will be your last.

A view toward Albany from the Cliff
A view toward Albany from the Cliff, notice the slope! Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
Unlike other areas in the park, there are no warning signs alerting the visitor of danger. Maybe that perfect Instagram photo peering over the edge is not a good idea here.

In fact, there is a plaque with some mystery about it at the cliff slope.  You can read a bit more about it here.

Plaque at cliff edge
Plaque at cliff edge Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
View looking toward High Point Cliff
View looking toward High Point Cliff Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking

Panorama form main ledge on Hang Glider Cliff
Panorama form main ledge on Hang Glider Cliff (click to enlarge) Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
From the main ledge, you can follow an unmarked herd path north to another, but a more limited view.

Panorama from Hang Glider Cliff
Panorama from 2nd ledge on Hang Glider Cliff (click to enlarge) Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
The return to the trailhead starts with you heading back on the Hand Glider Road Trail to the junction at the bottom of the hill. Don’t climb back up the ridge but stay on the Hand Glider Raod Trail which now is also part of the Long Path for a bit.

Walking up the glen is pretty and you will pass a few trails with one leading to High Point Cliff.

Heading to High Point Cliff from Hang Glider Cliff Trail
Heading to High Point Cliff from Hang Glider Cliff Trail Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
You can take that or continue straight to the yellow marked Perimeter Trail. On this day we continued to the parking area. From the cliff, it is about .70-miles to the yellow trail.

Junction of the Hang Glider Road and Perimeter Trails
Junction of the Hang Glider Road and Perimeter Trails Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
When reaching the Perimeter Trail you’ll make a left turn and start your final walk back to the parking area on Ryan Road. It is about 1.1-miles back to the parking area.

Sign showing left turn
Sign showing left turn Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
About halfway back you’ll come upon a pretty pond with a small bench. A good place to take one more stop and absorb this fine hike.

Pond along the Perimeter Trail
Pond along the Perimeter Trail Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking

Map of Hang Glider Cliff Hike

Hang Glider Cliff trail at Thacher Park
Hang Glider Cliff trail at Thacher Park Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
Thacher State Park Hiking
Contact Information:Address
830 Thacher Park Road
Voorheesville, NY 12186
Phone: (518) 872-1237
Nature Center: (518) 872-0800
Campground: (518) 872-1674
In Case of Emergency: 911 OR
State Park Police: (518) 584-2004
Location: Latitude 42.654645
Longitude -74.017630
Trail Maps/hours: Park Homepage
Southern Trails
Northern Trails
Park Hours
Amenities:Camper Recreation
Campsites
Grills
Nature Trails
Pavilions (Accessible)
Picnic Tables (Accessible)
Playgrounds
Playing Fields
Weather:Local forecast