Traversing the Great Ledge: Climbers in New Netherlands' Most Iconic Landscapes

A TRAILSNext™presentation

Still a work in progress, partnerships gives climbers access to a new trail system while preserving safety, cultural resources, and protected rare plants, animals, and habitat.

by Casey Holzworth, Natural Resource Steward, New York State Department Of Transportation, Jeff Moss, Thatcher Climbing Coalition

In 2015, NY State Parks partnered with the Thacher Climbing Coalition (TCC), a local rock climbing group, to develop trails to access rock climbing at Thacher State Park. The unique challenge was that Thacher Park sits atop the Helderberg Escarpment, a 50' to 200' high cliff that runs the length of the park. This required building access for climbers down through the cliff and along the 45 degree talus slope at the base. NYS Parks partnered with the TCC to develop a trail system through this uniquely challenging area, passing through the Squeeze Box, down Fat Man's Misery, and across the talus slope to Hailes Cave and the tip of the Horseshoe. Still a work in progress, this partnership has brought in hundreds of new visitors, thanks to a trail system built by volunteers that gives climbers access while preserving safety, cultural resources, and protected rare plants, animals, and habitat.

Learning Objectives:
  • How we utilized non-profit partners to achieve shared goals.
  • How we were able to balance various constraints, including ecological, recreational, and technical, to construct a new recreational resource.
  • How we convinced our own agency, other state and federal agencies, and the public that this effort would be a benefit to the park, was reasonable, and could be done with the environmental and safety in mind.

About the Authors

Casey Holzworth earned his bachelor’s degree in Animal Behavior from Bucknell University and did his master’s work in the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program at the University at Albany. Casey worked as a County Soil and Water Technician and a Biologist for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation before becoming the Regional Natural Resource Steward for the Saratoga-Capital District and Thousand Islands regions of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation in 2008. He is responsible for the coordination and implementation of a broad range of environmental and sustainability issues and projects in over 60 State Parks facilities.

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