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Photo by Cesar Mendez / TPWD

PARK SPOTLIGHT

Start the New Year Right with a First Day Hike


After a treat-filled holiday season, many overstuffed Texans are going to kick off the New Year by trying to keep that resolution to be healthier.

We’re here to help. Strap on some comfortable shoes and head to a Texas state park this New Year’s Day for one of the many First Day Hikes happening around the state, from the Pineywoods to the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley. State parks are the perfect place to kick-start your journey toward a healthier lifestyle while surrounded by the beauty of nature.

These “hikes” are not as tough as they sound and vary from standard walks in the park for those just starting their path toward fitness to more strenuous hikes for experienced hikers. Guided programs include strolls on scenic trails, polar plunges and short treks with four-legged family members.

Several Texas state parks are also offering midnight New Year’s Eve hikes for anyone who wants to ring in the New Year under the stars.

Last year, close to 4,000 people hiked, biked and paddled their way into 2019 at 124 events hosted statewide at 77 Texas state parks throughout the day. Texas had the fourth-highest participation in the country with the largest number of parks hosting an event. Park visitors in Texas trekked a total of 7,086 miles on Jan. 1.

Mother Neff State Park, near Waco, had the most participants with 393 visitors taking part in the four First Day Hikes held that day. Several parks had more than 100 people participate in a single event. One event at Cedar Hill State Park found 275 visitors traversing the trails.

Nationally, 1,276 guided First Day Hikes were offered on Jan. 1, 2019, from Alaska to Florida; park rangers hiked with more than 73,000 participants covering more than 151,000 miles. This was a record number of hikers and events and included international participation from Canada, where seven hikes attracted 185 attendees.

Look for a First Day Hike near you on the state park event page: tpwd.texas.gov/calendar.

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