Enjoy first day of 2013 hiking at a Texas park
I’ve spent my very best New Year’s Days tramping up ridges, admiring West Texas vistas and lunching on trail mix and oranges.
Usually, we’re on the South Rim Trail at Big Bend National Park. We call out “Happy New Year!” to folks we meet, and lay on the sunwarmed rocks at the top, peering down hundreds of feet over the lip of the rim to the brown, scrunched up desert floor below. Once, we did the hike in the snow.
You should hike on New Year’s Day, too.
Dozens of Texas parks are participating in a national program designed to encourage people to get some exercise and enjoy nature on the first day of the year.
Last year, more than 1,100 people showed up at 47 Texas state parks to participate. This year’s excursions range from short, leisurely walks to birding hikes, nature tours along the Gulf Coast and challenging treks in mountainous terrain.
State park staff or expert volunteers guide most of the hikes; most will feature an interpretive message about native plants, animals or park history. The walks average 1 to 2 miles, although some parks offer longer or shorter options.
Among the Central Texas parks offering First Day Hikes are Enchanted Rock State Park, Pedernales State Park, Buescher State Park, Inks Lake State Park, Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, Government Canyon State Natural Area, Pedernales State Park, Palmetto State Park, Lost Maples State Natural Area and Old Tunnel State Park.
Park entrance fees apply, but many parks are leading First Day Hikes at no extra cost. Some parks require advance reservations.
The concept of an official “First Day Hike” originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Mass. Since then, other states have offered similar New Year’s programs.
For more information about First Day Hikes in Texas State Parks, go to www.texasstateparks.org/ firstdayhikes.