There are 89 state parks in Texas alone and what better opportunity to ring in the new year and honor the Texas State Parks centennial than a hike?
Be sure to wear layers because depending on what part of the Brazos River basin you plan to stretch your legs, it may be a bit chilly.
Parks across the nation are again hosting First Day Hikes welcoming regulars and those ready to start new traditions.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department hosts guided and self-guided hikes at its parks. Reservations are required for many of the walks due to their popularity. If you opt to hike one of the parks on your own, be sure to stop at the park's headquarters for hike information and maps. And when you're done, stop back by to report on your hike and collect a memento while supplies last.
Don't forget to pack your water and if you've got binoculars, bring them as you're bound to see wildlife. Wear sturdy walking or hiking shoes, sunscreen, and dress for the weather. Several of the parks allow dogs, so check before heading out.
Some of these First Day Hikes include:
- Dinosaur Valley State Park
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 1 at 1629 Park Road 59, in Glen Rose. This easy .5 round trip route is free with park admission.
- Lake Whitney State Park
9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Jan. 1 at 433 F.M. 1244 in Whitney. Join Master Naturalists for an easy 1-mile hike to discover birding tips and tricks.
- Lake Somerville State Park - Birch Creek Unit
9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Jan. 1 at 14222 Park Road 57 in Somerville. This moderate guided 2.5-mile hike will be on the Lake Shore trail.
- Mother Neff State Park
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 1 at 1921 Park Road 14 in Moody. Explore the park at your own pace and learn about the history of the park along the way.
- Cleburne State Park
9:30 a.m. Jan. 1 at 5800 Park Road 21 in Cleburne. Start the year off with a breath of fresh air. Come join the ranger-led hike to the beautiful and historic CCC Spillway
To view the full list of TPWD First Day Hikes, go here.
If you're looking for a recommendation on a trail to start your inaugural New Year's Day tradition, may we recommend the Brazos River Authority's Possum Kingdom Lake Hike and Bike Trail system?
Ideal for hikers and mountain bikers, this system offers scenic beauty combined with varying degrees of difficulty. There are 12 trailheads along this route that stretches across the central peninsula, allowing guests to strike out for a scenic two-mile walk or a full-out 16-mile workout.
The trails at PK are five-feet wide and wind through wooded areas. Most of the trails feature a 5 to 12-degree slope, which is considered easy to moderate for hiking. One portion that rises high above Possum Kingdom Lake to Johnson Peak is more challenging, with a 20-degree slope. Johnson Peak provides a fantastic view of the reservoir and nearby hills, including the famous Hell's Gate rock formation that provides an entryway to a cove in the southern part of the lake.
The trails also offer easy and convenient access to public use areas, with restrooms, playgrounds, and campsites. Dogs are welcome on the trails, but they must be on a leash.
"To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles" - Marie Davis