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Begin 2022 on a First Day Hike at state parks

Start the new year with a First Day Hike at a state park such as Pedernales Falls near Johnson City. Photo by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

As New Year’s Eve merriment gives way to New Year’s Day, start 2022 in the great outdoors. Over the years, First Day Hikes have become a tradition at Texas State Parks and across the country.

“It’s really become one of the ways people have celebrated New Year’s Day, with a First Day Hike,” said Jamie Verzwyvelt, an interpretive ranger at Inks Lake State Park in Burnet County. “It’s a chance to get outside, enjoy the outdoors, and even learn a few things."

Several state parks in the Highland Lakes are hosting First Day Hikes on Jan. 1 for all ages and skill levels.

“Most of the hikes are for anyone, no matter what their experience or abilities,” Verzwyvelt said. “Families with kids, adults of all ages, we try to have something for everyone.”

Inks Lake State Park offers a Devil’s Waterhole Trail guided hike at 9 a.m. Jan. 1. It's an easy, 2-mile hike with information on native plants and other flora and fauna. At one point, hikers can choose to extend their outing to 3½ miles, or stick to the 2 miles. Dress for the weather and bring water. Verzwyvelt advises people to wear closed-toed shoes for the rocky trail.

Meet at the Devil's Waterhole trailhead. The park is located at 3630 Park Road 4 in Hoover’s Valley near Burnet. The hike is free, but visitors must pay an entrance fee of $6 for ages 13 and older. Children 12 and younger get in free.

Pedernales Falls State Park, located east of Johnson City at 2585 Park Road 6026, offers two guided hike options Jan. 1.

The first is the Pedernales Falls and Beyond hike, which starts at 9 a.m. in the Falls Parking Lot. It’s a 2-mile, moderate hike.

The half-mile, moderate Twin Falls Nature Trail hike starts at noon from the Twin Falls trailhead.

The park is also hosting a First Day Campfire at 3 p.m. at Campsite 68.

If you want to strike out on your own, Pedernales Falls suggests the following self-guided hikes:

  • Hackenburg Loop — easy 1½ miles down to the Pedernales River
  • Wolf Mountain — moderate 8 miles on a wide trail with gentle slopes and gravel
  • Loop Trail — challenging 5½ miles on a steep trail across the river (you'll get wet) and uphill to an overlook

The hikes are free, but park entrance is $6 for ages 13 and older and free for ages 12 and younger.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area hosts three guided summit hikes at 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. The park is located at 16710 RR 965 between Llano and Fredericksburg. The two-hour hikes will be led by a park ranger or knowledgeable volunteer. Meet at the gazebo at the start of the Summit Trail.

Park entrance is $8 for ages 13 and older and free for children 12 and younger.

Before heading out for a First Day Hike, check the parks' social media accounts or webpages for up-to-date weather and other information.

And as New Year's Day is a busy holiday for state parks, it's a good idea to make online reservations ahead of time. In fact, Enchanted Rock requires reservations on weekends, holidays, and school breaks.

If you can’t make a First Day Hike at these state parks, do your own at a local park. You can find a list of Highland Lakes community parks at And visit the Highland Lakes Hiking Guide for more information on hiking trails and parks.

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