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Texas State Parks Offer First Day Hikes

Pedernales Falls State Park east of Johnson City has three First Day Hikes on Jan. 1.

BURNET — How are you going to ring in the new year? How about a long walk outdoors.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has branded Jan. 1 as First Day Hike Day, and why not? What better way to start the new year than taking a hike in one of the area’s state parks. You can chose from several distances from a relatively easy, seventh-tenths-of-a-mile hike at Blanco State Park to a more challenging 3-mile hike to Rusty’s Roost in Colorado Bend State Park.

You won’t do it alone either, as many folks enjoy this state park tradition. Park rangers, interpreters, or qualified volunteers will guide the hikes and offer insights into the natural environments.

“The main point of the First Day Hike is to be out in nature,” said Lindsay Pannell, the Inks Lake State Park interpreter. “It’s a great way to center yourself for the next year.”

Pannell is leading a First Day Hike in Inks Lake State Park on Monday, Jan. 1, starting at 9 a.m. at the Pecan Flats Trailhead, which is located next to park headquarters.

“It’s roughly a two-and-a-half-mile hike, and we’re expecting about 100 people,” she said.

Now, 100 or more people on the trail might sound crowded, but Pannell has enlisted the help of the Friends of the Inks Lake organization to assist on the walk. There will be FOIL members interspersed within the group of hikers to answer questions and point out interesting flora, fauna, and geology along the way.

“It’s more of a loose-knit hike,” Pannell added. “We want people to come out, get outside, and enjoy the park.”

Rangers and interpreters will make sure everyone is included and safe.

While a couple of the First Day Hikes are geared toward more experienced hikers, most of them, especially the ones at Inks Lake State Park, Blanco State Park, and Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, are great for everyone.

So don’t stumble over the word “hike;” some are very pleasant walks in the great outdoors.

“I’d definitely encourage anyone who wants to see what hiking is or just getting outside is all about to come and join us,” Pannell said.

She recommended hikers bring water, even if there’s a chill in the air and you don’t think you’ll need it (because you always need water).

“Be sure to dress for the weather,” Pannell added. “And (wear) comfortable shoes.”

For more information about the Inks Lake hike, call Pannell at (512) 793-4689.

Also, check with the individual state parks about the status of their First Day Hikes in case of inclement weather.

All First Day Hikes are free of charge, but park entrance fees apply. The fees vary from park to park.

Here’s a list of First Day Hikes in area state parks.

• Inks Lake State Park, 3630 Park Road 4, located between Burnet and Kingsland. Hike is 9-10:30 a.m. starting at Pecan Flats Trailhead. The 2½-mile hike will end with cocoa, coffee, and snacks. Entrance fee is $6 for ages 13 and older and free for 12 and younger. Call (512) 793-2223.

• Blanco State Park, 101 Park Road 23 in Blanco. Hike is 10-11 a.m. starting at Caswell Nature Trailhead and is seventh-tenths of a mile in length. Well-behaved, friendly dogs on leashes are welcome. Entrance fee is $5 for ages 13 and older and free for 12 and younger. Call (830) 833-4333.

• Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, located about halfway between Johnson City and Fredericksburg off U.S. 290. Hike starts at 9:30 a.m. at the park’s visitor center. The easy, 1-mile trek takes hikers along the LBJ Nature Trail, where they will see Texas longhorns and American bison. Bring your binoculars to get a start on your bird-watching list. The hike also runs through the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. Entrance is free. Call (830) 644-2252.

• Pedernales Falls State Park, 2585 Park Road 6026 east of Johnson City. Entrance fee is $6 for ages 13 and older and free for 12 and younger. Call (830) 868-7304.

Three hikes include:

— One-mile jaunt from 9-10 a.m. starting at the Pedernales Falls Trailhead.

— One-mile, kid-friendly Hackenburg Loop Trail hike from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. starting at the Pedernales Falls Trailhead. Dogs are welcome but must be on a 6-foot leash.

— Half-mile, kid-friendly Twin Falls Nature Trail hike from 1-2 p.m. starting at the Twin Falls Trailhead. Again, dogs are welcome but must be on a 6-foot leash.

• Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, 16710 RR 965 between Llano and Fredericksburg. Entrance fee is $7 for ages 13 and older and free for 12 and younger. Call (830) 685-3636.

Three hikes include:

— Roundup Hike from 9:30-11:30 a.m. starting at the gazebo near the Summit Trail entrance. Hikers will see places most people skip such as Echo Canyon, the other side of “the Rock,” and Turkey Peak.

— Bark in the Park Hike from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. starting at the gazebo near the Summit Trail entrance. Bring your canine friend for a hike around the park. (Just make sure your dog is on a 6-foot leash at all times.)

— Late Start Hike from 2-4 p.m. starting at the gazebo near the Summit Trail entrance. This is for those of you who just could’t make it to one of the morning hikes. You’ll hike to the summit with a ranger and learn about Native Americans as well as discover some of the folklore surrounding Enchanted Rock.

• Colorado Bend State Park, located east of Lampasas off FM 580. Rusty’s Roost hike is 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. starting at the Gorman Trailhead (meet at 10:15 a.m.) This is an intermediate hike that courses through the park for about 3 miles. People will take the Tie Slide Trail to the River Overlook, also known as Rusty’s Roost (an observation deck 200 feet above the Colorado River). This hike is not recommended for those with mobility or health issues. Bring a lunch. Entrance fee is $5 for ages 13 and older and free for 12 and younger. Call (325) 628-3240.

Visit and navigate to the “Parks” section for information about specific parks.

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