First Day Hike 2016,  Hiking,  Hiking Guidance,  Whit's Wilderness Challenge

Start 2016 Off Right!

This time of year, I always yearn to get back in the swing of eating healthy and exercising. That said, I feel no guilt, whatsoever, about the eating extravaganza that was Christmas. I loved and savored every minute of it! Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the food.

To help people like me get back to reality, America’s State Parks is proposing everyone take a hike in the great outdoors on the first day of January. Rangers are offering free guided hikes and there’s even an official hashtag, #FirstDayHikes. Not wanting to be outdone, Texas parks are hosting not only First Day Hikes but First Day Paddles, First Day Runs, First Day Twilight Hikes, First Day Dog Hikes, and even a First Day Polar Bear Plunge. (No thank you.)

I challenge my readers to participate and, IF YOU DO, I WILL SEND YOU A PRIZE! I’ll give you a week to complete this even though it’s technically a “First Day” challenge. Because of New Year’s Eve, because it’s cold, and because, well, procrastination.

What are the prizes? Personalized, one of a kind, special edition rain gauges and coozies. They may or may not say “Whitney and Brandon – April 12, 2014” and may or may not be sitting in a huge box in my house. So please, enter to win by posting a pic from your hike and hashtagging #WhitsWildernessChallenge AND #FirstDayHikes by January 10th. 

A list of hikes near major Texas cities below. Note: you do not have to do one of the below hikes to win, you can hike somewhere else of your choosing ANY DAY NEXT WEEK! An hour of hiking is worth 250 calories, so get out there and feel the burn.

First Day Hikes

  • My recommendations in italics
  • Most parks offer one hike in the morning and one in the afternoon
  • 1-1.5 hours on average
  • Nationwide hike listings: America’s State Parks Website

Dallas and Fort Worth Area

Denton/Frisco

  • First Day Hike – Ray Roberts Lake State Park – Johnson Branch Unit – Join us on the first day of the year for a hike on our Shady Oaks trail!
  • First Day Paddle – Ray Roberts Lake State Park – Johnson Branch Unit – Calling all kayak enthusiasts!
  • New Year First Day Hike! – Ray Roberts Lake State Park – Isle Du Bois Unit – Make your New Year’s resolution to get outside more!
  • First Day Paddle – Ray Roberts Lake State Park – Johnson Branch Unit – Calling all kayak enthusiasts!

Waco

Austin

  • First Day Fido Hike (Morning) – Pedernales Falls State Park – Grab your best canine friend (and maybe a human or two) and come out to Pedernales Falls for our first ever Fido Hike!
  • First Day Fido Hike (Afternoon) – Pedernales Falls State Park – Grab your best canine friend (and maybe a human or two) and come out to Pedernales Falls for our first ever Fido Hike!Pedernales Falls State Park. Technically, second ever.
  • First Day Bird Walk and Survey – Guadalupe River State Park – Join us to see how many species of birds we can get throughout the day and raise money for a new bird blind!
  • First Day Hikes….and Runs – Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – Join us for a number of options on New Year’s Day. Run with the Ranger, Summit Trail Hikes, or a hike to The Other Side of the Rock. Ring the New Year in right at Enchanted Rock!
  • First Day Hike-LBJ State Park and Historic Site  – Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site – LBJ State Park and Historic Site First Day Hike Join us for a walk back in time to life in the Texas Hill Country in the mid-1800s to the early 1900s!
  • Tot’s First Tromp! – Bastrop State Park – Do you have a tot that loves to tromp around outside but don’t want to brave the trails? Bring your little ones – even those in a stroller – and join us for a quick half hour nature exploration on the Old Golf Course paved trails!
  • Visiting the Past, Hiking for the Future – Bastrop State Park – New Year’s Day is a time for reflection and hope for the future! Join us on a hike to one of the best kept secrets of Bastrop State Park – Fehr’s Overlook.
  • The A-B-C’s of Buescher State Park (Guided Hike) – Buescher State Park – Go on a scavenger hunt style guided hike with a Ranger!
  • A New Start – Life in the Civilian Conservation Corps – Buescher State Park – Join us for a guided hike to explore how the Civilian Conservation Corps gave state parks and the men that built them a new start for the future.
  • New Year, New Trail – Inks Lake State Park – Ribbon cutting ceremony for the Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail!
  • New Year’s Twilight Hike – Inks Lake State Park – Start the New Year in Nature hiking at Inks Lake.
  • Hike through History – Blanco State Park – Welcome in the New Year by learning about our past.
  • First Day (Night) Hike – McKinney Falls State Park – It’s a new year – get outside!

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San Marcos

  • First Day Hike: Wildlife Walk – Lockhart State Park – Join us on a walk in search of the amazing wildlife that call Lockhart State Park home! Who knows what we will find?

San Antonio

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  • First Day Run – Government Canyon State Natural Area – Start the Year with a Run!
  • First Day Run for Kids! – Government Canyon State Natural Area – Start the New Year Off Right!
  • “First Day Hike” in the Hill Country – Hill Country State Natural Area – Make a resolution to get outdoors and hike on New Year’s Day! Your guide will lead you along some very scenic trails in the farthest reaches of this 5,000-acre state natural area, located near Bandera.

Houston

  • ‘Kick off your list’ Bird Walk – Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center – Start your bird list early for 2016!
  • First Day Trail Jog – Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center – Is nature part of your New Year’s Resolutions?
  • First Day Bike – BikeFit adventure – Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center – Join Texas Outdoor Family Park Rangers on a fun BikeFit adventure at Sheldon Lake State Park. Participants learn basic biking safety and complete a 5 mile ride through the park in this fitness focused adventure. Space is limited, adult and youth bikes are available or you can bring your own! To reserve a bike email kimberly.sorensen@tpwd.texas.gov or call 512-800-4324
  • First Day Hike-Secret Agent Style – Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center – Learn how to be a Secret Agent this year.
  • San Jacinto Battleground SHS First Day Hike “In the Footsteps of Texians”  – San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site
  • First Day Hike – Stephen F. Austin State Park – Start the New Year off on the right foot and join us on a Ranger led First Day Hike through the Brazos River bottomland forests of Stephen F. Austin State Park. Experience for yourself the sights and sounds of the beautiful resource right near your own backyard. All ages are welcome for this 1.5-hour event. Bring your picnic lunch and plan to stay the whole day!
  • First Day Hike – Brazos Bend State Park – Start the year off on the right foot . . . . then the left foot . . . . then the right foot again. What better way to start off the new year than with a hike in a state park!
  • First Day Bike Ride – Brazos Bend State Park – Start the year off on the right foot! What better way to do that than with a bike ride in a state park?
  • First Day Hike – Near Houston – Lake Livingston State Park – Start the New Year off right with a First Day Hike!
  • Ranger Run/Jog – Galveston Island State Park – Run like a wild person on this special First Day Hike!

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  • Beachcombing 01 – Galveston Island State Park – Treasures await you at the water’s edge!
  • Heavenly Night Hike – Galveston Island State Park – The stars at night, are big and bright ….Deep in the heart of Texas!
  • First Day Night Hike – Brazos Bend State Park – Start the year off on the right foot. What better way to do that than with a hike in a state park?

El Paso

  • Hueco First Day Hikes – Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site – As a new year rolls in, it is time for the Annual First Day Hikes! This year Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site will be offering four hikes on January 1st with varying difficulties for all ages.
  • First Day Hike – Wyler Aerial Tramway – Let’s start the New Year with the right foot!

Gulf Coast

  • New Year Hike – Mustang Island State Park – Usher in the new year with a sunrise beach walk at Mustang Island State Park.
  •  First Day Bird Walk – Goose Island State Park – Join us for a bird walk on new years day! If your resolution is for an active year start it off with a bird walk, and bird list!

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Corpus Christi

  • First Day Hike! – Lake Corpus Christi State Park – It’s time for the first Hike of the Year!

College Station

  • Huntsville’s Trail Sampler – Huntsville State Park – Join us for our First Day Hike on a sample of three trails offered at Huntsville State Park.

West Texas

  • First Day Ride – Guided Beginner’s Mountain Bike Ride – Franklin Mountains State Park – C’mon over, work up a sweat and burn some calories, take in the splendors of the Franklin Mountains State Park, and start your New Year’s Resolutions off right mountain biking with us!
  • First Day Polar Plunge – Balmorhea State Park – Plunge into the New Year at Balmorhea State Park with a swim in our beautiful artesian spring-fed swimming pool!
  • Take a Stroll Through Time on the Indian Lodge Walking Tour! – Indian Lodge – Bring your steaming cup of coffee and join us as we take a short walk around the grounds of the Indian Lodge and learn about the rich history of Camp Washington Seawell, the camp that built the lodge and Davis Mountains State Park.
  • First Day Hike : West Rim Overlook – Big Bend Ranch State Park – If you are spending the holidays at Big Bend Ranch State Park near the Sauceda Headquarters, take a hike with us to view Fresno Canyon and the Solitario Flatirons from the West Rim Overlook. This easy-to-moderate, 2.5 mile trail (5 miles round trip) traverses quartz-studded lava flows and dips through a hidden spring.
  • Mile High First Day Hikes! – Davis Mountains State Park
  • First Day Hike – Schaeffer Shuffle Trail – Franklin Mountains State Park – C’mon over, work up a sweat and burn some calories, take in the splendors of the Franklin Mountains State Park, and start your New Year’s Resolutions off on the right hiking foot!

Abilene

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Del Rio

  • Kickapoo Cavern First Day Cave Hike – Kickapoo Cavern State Park – Escape the cold and start the New Year off on the right foot with our First Day Cave Hike through Kickapoo Cavern. Learn about the history and formations of the cavern while getting a workout in the warmth of the cave. Don’t forget your flashlight.

San Angelo

  • First Day Hike – San Angelo State Park -Start the year off right by enjoying a hike because Life is Better Outside!

Laredo

Wichita Falls

  • First Day Hike  – Lake Arrowhead State Park – Join us for a First Day Hike and learn about the great outdoors with Texas Master Naturalists.

Bandera/Kerrville

  • First Day Hike Lost Maples – Lost Maples State Natural Area – Start the New Year off right with a beautiful hike in Lost Maples on the east trail.

Lubbock/Amarillo

  • First Day Hike (Morning) – Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Start 2016 on the right foot… literally! Join the park interpreter for the first hike of the new year!
  • First Day Hike (Afternoon) – Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Start 2016 on the right foot… literally! Join the park interpreter for the first hike of the new year!
  • First Day Hike – Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway – Start your year off on the right foot

Finally…Far but Gorgeous!

First Day Hike – Gorman Falls – 2:00 PM – Colorado Bend State Park – This hike will take you on a journey where you will experience the geology, history, and landscape of Colorado Bend and view the famous Gorman Falls.

Whit’s Wilderness Review: Trails of Colorado Bend, Packing List: Colorado Bend.

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For all offerings, click here: “First Day Hikes”.

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