AUSTIN— Kick off the next decade of adventures at a Texas State Park by participating in a First Day Hike. This New Year’s Day, Texas State Parks will host a variety of programs for the whole family to enjoy.
First Day Hikes at Texas’ state parks and natural areas aim to help visitors commit to their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy.
“This has become such a fun event for our teams in state parks and we are once again looking forward to starting off the new year with our visitors on the trail.,” says Justin Rhodes, Deputy Director of Texas State Parks. “Whether you are a novice hiker or seasoned pro, early riser or night owl, beach enthusiast or mountaineer, alone or with your family and friends, you are likely to find the perfect opportunity to start the year in a state park.”
The First Day Hikes events range from strolls on scenic trails, midnight walks, polar plunges, bike rides, and short treks with four-legged family members to more strenuous hikes for experienced visitors.
Ring in the New Year on an old trail at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. Join a park ranger on a 2.5-mile hike to and from the Resaca Vieja Trail starting at 9 a.m. Participants will meet at the park headquarters and are encouraged to bring sunscreen, a hat, water and comfortable shoes.
Fort Parker State Park will host a black light hike and scavenger hunt at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Beginning at 10:30 p.m., a park ranger will lead a half-mile hike and uncover the hidden treasures on the trail with a blacklight. The fun will continue with a “riddle-me-this” scavenger hunt. Then, the new year will be welcomed in around a campfire with hot chocolate and cookies.
In West Texas, visitors can work up a sweat and burn some calories while taking in the splendors of the mountains at Franklin Mountains State Park. Park rangers are hosting a 5.5-mile, moderate hike from 9 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. along the scenic trail up to Mundy’s Gap. Hikers will meet at the West Cottonwood Springs trailhead in the Tom Mays Unit and should come equipped with water, snacks and sturdy hiking shoes.
Hike with dogs looking for their “fur-ever” homes at Lake Brownwood State Park from 11 a.m.- 12 p.m. New Year’s Day. Pups from NaNook & NaKoda’s Big Paws Rescue will be at the park and visitors will have a chance to meet and hike with the dogs and even start adoption paperwork if interested. Anyone wanting to participate in the short, easy hike should meet the ranger at the Texas Oak trailhead.
At Sea Rim State Park, visitors can begin their year with a hike on the beach. Texas Master Naturalists will be serving up some luck with black-eyed peas and cornbread snacks. The event begins at 9 a.m. and is set to run until 11 a.m.
Last year, 77 state parks hosted First Day Hike events across Texas. More than 3,900 participants walked, paddled and biked 7,086 miles at a Texas State Park. Find a complete list of this year’s First Day Hike events on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s calendar page.