Visitors from every corner of the state headed to a Texas State Park Jan. 1 to help usher in the new decade with a First Day Hike in a big way. The roaring 20s were welcomed by 5,242 people who hiked, biked and rode a total of 9,564 miles statewide.
This year, a record number of Texans visited 76 parks and participated in one of the 126 events held New Year’s Day.
“So many families across the nation take part in First Day Hikes and I was thrilled to see that Texas State Parks had more participants than ever in 2020,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks. “It is great to see that so many people joined us for what has become a fantastic tradition across the state of Texas. The State Parks team provides such a variety of activities for all and cannot wait to see even more friends and families join us in 2021.”
The First Day Hikes events ranged from strolls on scenic trails, midnight walks, polar plunges, bike rides, and short treks with four-legged family members to more strenuous hikes for experienced visitors.
A visitor at Sea Rim State Park participated in the polar plunge in the surf after walking a First Day Hike and came back to shore with a thumbs up exclaiming “I did it!”
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, about an hour southwest of Fort Worth, had the most participants with 390 visitors taking part in the seven First Day Hike events held throughout the day. Mother Neff State Park near Waco was close behind with 387 visitors and Tyler State Park in Tyler came in third with 262 participants.
Two of the four-legged attendees at Lake Brownwood State Park’s dog hike were rescues from the park’s Hike with a Homeless Dog event in October.
Several parks had more than 100 people participate in a single event. One event at Ray Roberts Lake State Park- Isle Du Bois Unit had 231 visitors, the most participants of any event across the state.
The back country hike at Tyler State Park had 204 participants on the 3.1-mile guided hike. During the rest stops, rangers talked about how to navigate using clues in nature, the health benefits of hiking in the forest and bear safety (even though bears do not live in the park). For more information about hiking or other activities in Texas State Parks, visit texasstateparks.org.