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First Day Hikes 2020 at Texas state parks

Many parks, including Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, offer First Day Hikes on January 1. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell

Start the new year on the right foot at several area Texas state parks. Colorado Bend State Park, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Inks Lake State Park, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, and Pedernales Falls State Park are all offering guided First Day Hikes.

Last year, about 55,000 people nationwide hiked over 133,000 collective miles on guided First Day hikes.

Trail distance and difficulty vary from park to park but are generally designed with newcomers and families in mind.

"It's about getting people out into parks and starting the new year in a healthy way," said Dennis Smith, superintendent of LBJ State Park. "Get out, walk and exercise, and start your New Year's resolutions first thing."

While the hikes are free, the parks do require an entrance fee with the exception of LBJ State Park. Bring water, wear appropriate footwear, and dress for Texas' unpredictable weather.

Area parks with First Day Hikes are:

Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park offers one of the longer hikes — 5.7 miles — but the payoff is beautiful Texas Hill Country vistas.

The pet-friendly First Day Hike begins at the Cedar Chopper Loop Trailhead at 8:45 a.m.

Colorado Bend State Park is located at 6031 Colorado Park Road in Bend. Entrance is $5 for ages 13 and older and free for ages 12 and younger.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Hike to the top of Enchanted Rock during the First Day Summit Hike and learn about geology, history, and more along the way. The hike is only 1.5 miles, but it is a strenuous and steep climb to the top.

Meet at the gazebo at the beginning of Summit Trail at 9:30 a.m.

If you can’t make the morning hike, the park is also hosting the Late Risers First Day Hike, which takes a 1-mile loop along the base of Enchanted Rock. Meet at the gazebo at the start of Summit Trail at 2:30 p.m.

And if you want to take in the first sunset of the year with a view worth the effort, go on the First Sunset Scenic Overlook Hike. This hike takes the Loop Trail during the golden hour to catch the sunset. It’s about a two-hour hike, so bring a flashlight since it will be dark on the return.

Meet at the campground cul-de-sac at 4:30 p.m.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is located at 16710 RR 965 between Llano and Fredericksburg. Entrance is $7 for ages 13 and older and free for ages 12 and younger. Enchanted Rock reaches capacity quickly, so call ahead of time to reserve a spot.

Inks Lake State Park

This 3-mile hike along the Lake and Woodland trails takes trekkers through oak woodlands, across rocky outcrops, and onward to scenic views.

Hike orientation begins at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot across from park headquarters.

Inks Lake State Park is located at 3630 Park Road 4 in Hoover’s Valley. Entrance is $6 for ages 13 and older and free for ages 12 and younger.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site

For a hike that is as historical as it is scenic, visit LBJ State Park on New Year's Day. The park's roughly 1.5-mile walk goes past the official Texas longhorn herd, a statue of the park's namesake, the historic Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, and cabins used by some of the first German settlers in the Hill Country.

Meet at the State Park Visitor Center at 9:30 a.m.

LBJ State Park and Historic Site is located at 199 Park Road 52 in Stonewall. Entrance is free.

Pedernales Falls State Park

Trek through the Hill Country and riverfront on one or more First Day Hikes at Pedernales Falls State Park.

For early risers, take the Pedernales Falls Hike. Meet in the Falls parking lot at 8 a.m. for a 1-5-mile hike over steep, rocky terrain.

The Twin Falls Nature Trail Hike starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Twin Falls Trailhead. It's a half-mile jaunt over moderate, rocky terrain.

The Hackenberg Loop Trail Hike begins at 1 p.m. in the Falls parking lot and covers 1.5 miles of easy, sandy terrain.

Pedernales Falls State Park is located at 2585 Park Road 6026 in Johnson City. Entrance is $6 for ages 13 and older and free for ages 12 and younger.

For more hiking opportunities and stories about area state parks, visit the Highland Lakes Hiking Guide.

alex@thepicayune.com

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