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First Day Hikes

Don’t procrastinate on your New Year’s resolution to drop a few pounds and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Head outdoors and hit the trail on Jan. 1 at one of the dozens of Texas state parks hosting First Day Hikes.

New Year’s Day events earlier this year attracted more than 1,500 people, who covered almost 6,000 trail miles in 59 Texas state parks. The hiking and paddling events were part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes occurring in state parks throughout the nation to help people get a healthy jump on the New Year.

Jan. 1, 2015 will mark the fourth consecutive year that Texas state parks will participate in the nation’s First Day Hikes initiative, which is being coordinated by the National Association of State Park Directors. This past New Year’s Day, for the first time, First Day Hikes took place in all 50 states, drawing nearly 28,000 people who hiked 68,811 miles. First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a Massachusetts state park.

“Our third annual First Day Hikes initiative proved a resounding success, drawing even more people who made a physical statement about how they intend to live their lives,” says Brent Leisure, Texas State Parks director. “There’s something symbolic about getting outside and visiting a state park on this day in particular. So, whether you’re motivated by the beauty of nature, want to shed a few pounds or simply desire to spend quality time with family, we invite you to head to a nearby state park on New Year’s Day and join the fun.”

So far, 67 Texas state parks have scheduled more than 100 First Day events to kick off the New Year. For the most up-to-date list of First Day Hikes in Texas state parks, visit: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/calendar/first-day-hikes.

Perhaps fittingly, Mother Neff State Park near Waco, Texas’ first official state park, continues to draw the most hikers, hosting 204 participants last time around. Lake Brownwood State Park held two hikes, attracting the second highest number of hikers, 191. Pedernales Falls had the third greatest turnout, with 129 hikers.

For a new twist on the theme, Martin Creek and Guadalupe River state parks, will host midnight First Day Hikes on New Year’s Eve. At ever-popular Garner State Park, you can start off your New Year by hiking 2.5 miles to the top of Old Baldy. And, at the South Sulphur Unit of Cooper Lake State Park, gung-ho revelers can start off the year by hiking, running or biking the 4.6 mile Coyote Run Trail. Geocachers can join the fun, too. For something different on New Year’s Day, try a First Day Paddle at the Johnson Branch unit of Ray Roberts Lake State Park.

There is no charge to participate in First Day events, but park entry fees do apply. Avid state park visitors may want to share their love of Texas state parks by taking advantage of a special Texas State Parks Pass offer. Through Jan. 5, 2015, the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Foundation is offering the opportunity to buy a State Parks Pass as a gift for $65, a $5 savings off the regular price. Visit the foundation TPW Foundation website (http://www.tpwf.org/ ) to take advantage of this online-only, limited time offer. One hundred percent of the park pass purchase price benefits Texas state parks.

To learn about year-round hiking opportunities available in Texas state parks, visit: www.texasstateparks.org/hiking. or visit Nature Rocks Texas at www.naturerockstexas.org

To view or download First Day Hikes images, visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=2015_first_day_hikes.

To watch a YouTube video about First Day Hikes in Texas State Parks, visit: http://youtu.be/s4yVpqyxzR4