March Into 2018 on a First Day Hike

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AUSTIN— Walk into 2018 where the wild things are by participating in a guided stroll through Texas State Parks as part of the national First Day Hikes initiative.

First Day Hikes at Texas’ state parks and natural areas will help visitors commit to their new year’s resolutions to get healthy and lose weight.

 “First Day Hikes are an ideal way for people to begin the New Year with a more active lifestyle, and Texas State Parks are a perfect place to achieve that goal and enjoy nature simultaneously,” said Brent Leisure, director of Texas State Parks.

The First Day Hikes events range from brisk strolls on scenic trails, polar plunges, bike rides, short treks with four-legged family members and meditation walks to more strenuous hikes for experienced visitors.

At Brazos Bend State Park, park staff will be leading a guided seven-mile bike ride from 1 – 3 p.m. around Elm Lake to 40 Acre Lake and out on the prairie. Visitors will learn about the diverse ecosystems present at the park, as well as the plants and animals that call Brazos Bend home. Participants will need to provide their own bikes. The trek is suitable for riders of all levels.

Start the year off with a splash at the annual Dino Dive and New Year’s celebration from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. at Dinosaur Valley State Park. A variety of first day hikes will be available throughout the day as well as games, food, a costume contest and a plunge into the Blue Hole. Hikes are free with park admission; purchase tickets for the Dino Dive at the park store or at All proceeds benefit Dinosaur Valley’s friends group.

On the coast, park rangers at Galveston Island State Park will be hosting a first day paddle from 12 — 2 p.m. Park goers over the age of 13 can register to take a guided paddling trip on the flat, shallow, protected waters of Galveston Bay. Galveston Island’s friends group will provide a kayak, paddle and life jacket for each registered participant. For more information or to RSVP for the event, visit the Galveston Island State Park event page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website.

Find your Zen after the holidays with a meditation hike at Martin Dies Jr. State Park from 2 — 3 p.m. Local Woodville yoga and meditation instructor Cleo will show visitors that there is no need to sit like a pretzel and hum to reach relaxation. Visitors will learn how to do a walking, mindful mediation during the easy one-hour walk.

Don’t forget about four-legged family members on New Year’s Day. Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center will be hosting a First Day Dog Walk from 1 — 2 p.m. This easy, 1-mile hike is suitable for all ages and gives pups a chance to go for a good walk and meet some new friends. Visitors will meet staff at the Pond Center for this guided hike.

Last year, 75 state parks hosted 121 First Day Hikes event across Texas. More than 3,700 participants walked, paddled and biked 7,600 miles at a Texas State Park. A complete list of First Day Hike events can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s calendar page.

For video of First Day Hikes events, visit the TPWD YouTube page.