Embark on a scientific and historic exploration of autumn to discover FALLbany County! This family-friendly photo scavenger hunt has ideas for five Albany County itineraries. Choose an itinerary, grab your cell phone and hit the road to discover all that Albany County has to offer this season. Complete two or more itineraries for a chance to win a prize!
- Itinerary 1: John Boyd Thacher State Park & Indian Ladder Farms
- Itinerary 2: Pine Hollow Arboretum & Five Rivers
- Itinerary 3: Albany Rural Cemetery & St. Agnes Cemetery
- Itinerary 4: Shaker Heritage Society & Albany Pine Bush Preserve
- Itinerary 5: Cohoes Falls & Peebles Island State Park
Skip to How To Play & Rules to learn how you can participate in this scientific and historic exploration of fall through the brand-new Discover Albany app for a chance to win a prize! Please note that in order to participate you must upload photos through the app while on-site at each location.
Stop 1: John Boyd Thacher State Park
Address: 830 Thacher Park Rd, Voorheesville, NY 12186
Photo: Snap a photo of the front of the Visitor Center (If you are interested in checking out the exhibits, the Visitor Center is open open 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM everyday except Tuesdays.)
Fun Fact: John Boyd Thacher State Park sits atop the Helderberg Escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. Explore the Indian Ladder Trail to see exposed limestone cliffs rich in fossils of shelled marine animals. Go on a hunt for fossils throughout the park and find them in streambeds, in the stone wall at the Overlook, and in bare rock exposed along the Cliff Top Trail. Wondering why the fossils are of shelled marine animals? Albany used to be a giant prehistoric lake!
Alternate Stop: Visited Thacher Park before and looking to switch it up? Head out to the Huyck Preserve and submit a photo of the Rensselaerville Falls.
Stop 2: Indian Ladder Farms
Address: 342 Altamont Rd, Altamont, NY 12009
Photo: Take a photo of this barn with the "Indian Ladder Farms" sign.
Fun Fact: Indian Ladder Farms, tucked in Altamont, is a 100-year-old farm and orchard. During the autumn, the orchard is open for Pick-Your-Own apples every day from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Enjoy picking apples, drinking apple cider and savoring a freshly-baked apple cider doughnut. While drinking apple cider, think about how it takes approximately 36 apples to make one gallon of cider! New York State is the second-largest apple producing state in the United States, so it is fitting that apples are New York's official state fruit. Plus, did you know that 25 percent of an apple's volume is air? This is why apples float and the popular Halloween game "bobbing for apples" is possible!
Stop 1: Pine Hollow Arboretum
Address: 34 Pine Hollow Rd, Slingerlands, NY 12159
Photo: Take a photo of the twisting tree featured above (Hint: It is located right at the entrance of the arboretum near picnic tables!)
Fun Fact: The Pine Hollow Arboretum, nestled in Slingerlands, is home to a wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants. As its name suggests, Pine Hollow Arboretum has hundreds of pine trees! These towering pine trees belong to the group of trees called conifers. These types of trees have cones and most have needle-like leaves. Many animals like to munch on pine cones because they are filled with seeds. Evergreen trees, such as pines, do not lose their leaves each autumn because their needles are naturally covered with a wax-like protection from the cold.
Bonus: Extend your time at the arboretum with the Plant Passport! Available everyday at the arboretum's kiosk, this family-friendly activity sends kids scouting for 7 unique trees.
Stop 2: Five Rivers
Address: 56 Game Farm Rd, Delmar, NY 12054
Photo: Snap a photo of these signs near the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.
Fun Fact: Five Rivers features a handful of trails with brilliant views of fall foliage. Wind around the edge of Beaver Pond on the Beaver Tree Trail for exceptional views of the seasonal colors. During the summer, the leaves on the trees are green due to chlorophyll. Chlorphyll is a green pigment involved with feeding the tree through photosynthesis. Each Fall, leaves transform into stunning shades of orange, yellow and red. This transformation occurs because during the autumn, the days are shorter and there is less sunlight. This signals the leaves to prepare for the winter months and to stop making chlorophyll. Less chlorophyll results in less green pigment, allowing the other pigments (orange, red and yellow!) to shine through the leaves.
Stop 1: Albany Rural Cemetery
Address: Cemetery Ave, Albany, NY 12204
Photo: Snap a photo of the Chester Arthur monument (Hint: Head to Section 24, Lot 8).
Fun Fact: With winding roads, exquisite burial monuments and breathtaking fall foliage, Albany Rural Cemetery is a picturesque spot for a stroll. Among the notable politicians buried at the historic cemetery is President Chester A. Arthur! He was the 21st President of the United States, serving from 1881 to 1885. One of the few presidents who was never elected, he was Vice President when President James Garfield was assassinated. How did Albany Rural Cemetery become the Vermont native's final resting place? His father, Rev. William Arthur, was an abolitionist preacher in the Albany area and had a family plot at the cemetery!
Stop 2: St. Agnes Cemetery
Address: 48 Cemetery Ave, Albany, NY 12204
Photo: Take a photo of Cormac McWilliams grave (Hint: As soon as you pull into St. Agnes, park your car. He’s located right along the main road near the entrance.)
Fun Fact: St. Agnes Cemetery, a 108-acre Roman Catholic cemetery, features sweeping panoramic vistas with stunning fall foliage. The historic cemetery is the final resting place of Cormac McWilliams, one of the rumored ghosts haunting the New York State Capitol. He was a construction foreman who was tragically killed in a fall from scaffolding in the Assembly Chamber. Paranormal sounds and apparitions have been reported from the Assembly Chamber and many believe that McWilliams might be the spirit behind them.
Stop 1: Shaker Heritage Society
Address: 25 Meeting House Road, Albany, NY 12211
Photo: Find the historic building, read the interpretative sign and snap a photo!
Fun Fact: Visit Shaker Heritage Society at the Watervilet Shaker National Historic District. Nestled in Colonie, the 770-acre Historic District is the site of America's first Shaker settlement. The Shakers are one of the most significant communal religious society in American history known for their innovative spirit. Revolutionaries of their time, the Shakers developed innovative planned communities that emphasized gender and racial equality. Among many inventions, the Watervliet Shakers standardized seed production and used paper packets for selling seeds by 1790. They grew vegetables specifically for the production and marketing of seeds. The Shakers were also pioneers for canning vegetables and fruits, a fall activity that is still popular today!
Stop 2: Albany Pine Bush Preserve
Address: 195 New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205
Photo: Take a photo of the above trail information, located near the Discover Center (The Discovery Center is open for limited hours.)
Fun Fact: The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is one of only twenty inland pine barrens left in the entire world. This globally-rare ecosystem is fire-dependent and is continually renewed with reoccurring fires. Without fires, the pine barren landscape would transform into a dense forest and lose its unique character. This unique habitat is also home to a wide variety of species including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. The trail system is open, but please stay mindful of others and practice social distancing.
Stop 1: Cohoes Falls: Falls View Park
Address: 231-341 N Mohawk St, Cohoes, NY 12047
Photo: Snap a photo of Cohoes Falls from Falls View Park!
Fun Fact: Cohoes is home to the second largest waterfall in New York State. Measuring roughly 1,000 feet across and up to 90 feet high, Cohoes Falls is a striking sight. Legend has it, the daughter of the chief of a Native American tribe fell asleep in her canoe and drifted over the falls. The legend varies, but the word "Cohoes" comes from either the Native American word "Ca-ha-hoose" or "Coho" which means "falling or shipwrecked canoe."
BONUS: Nearby, find a historical marker at the site marking where the bones of the 13,000-year-old Cohoes Mastodon were uncovered in September 1866! The bones were found during construction for Mill No. 3 of the Harmony Mills near Cohoes Falls.
Stop 2: Peebles Island State Park
Address: 1 Delaware Ave North, Cohoes, NY 12047
Photo: Find the above sign and snap a photo!
Fun Fact: Peebles Island State Park is at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. The state park, located in both Albany County and Saratoga County, is characterized with gorgeous riverside views and a variety of trails. It is a home and a migration stop for a variety of birds such as bald eagles, barred owls, great blue herons, ospreys, and swallows. During the autumn months, cooler weather and less daylight signals some birds to migrate south to warmer climates for the winter months. Have most birds in the park already flown south or can you spy a few?
How To Play & Rules:
IMPORTANT: In order to participate, you must upload photos on the Discover Albany App while ON-SITE at each location.
1. Download the Discover Albany App
2. Choose an itinerary to complete from above.
3. Drive to the first location featured on the itinerary.
4. Explore the location to find the spot that the photo featured in the above blog post was taken.
5. Once you find the spot for the photo, open the Discover Albany App. Click on "Adventures" from the bottom navigation.
6. Click on "Discover FALLbany County".
7. Register with an email address and create a password.
8. Click on the location you are currently exploring (John Boyd Thacher State Park, Pine Hollow Arboretum, etc)
9. Click the "Check In" icon.
10. Click "Image Upload" and take the exact same photo as the photo featured in the blog post above (For example, at John Boyd Thacher State Park take a photo of the Visitors Center).
11. Click "Check In". Now your photo is pending approval!
12. Drive to the second location featured on an itinerary.
13. Repeat steps 4 - 11.
14. Complete two or more itineraries (4 total Check Ins) by November 1 and you will be entered in for a chance to win a prize! The random winner will be picked on Monday, November 2.