This past New Year’s Day, nearly 4,000 park visitors statewide walked, biked, swam and paddled their way into 2017 as part of Texas State Parks’ annual First Day Hikes events. First Day Hikes events are a national initiative to get park visitors to start their year on the right foot and enjoy the natural, historical, cultural and recreational opportunities at state parks.
Nationwide, more than 1,300 First Day Hikes were offered in all 50 states from Alaska to Florida with 61,800 participants covering over 111,850 miles. In Texas, 3,783 park visitors trekked more than 7,600 miles this year.
“We have seen the First Day Hikes initiative grow every year,” said Ky Harkey, director of interpretation for Texas State Parks. “These events are a wonderful way for families to strap on a pair of comfortable walking shoes, traverse the trails together and enjoy Texas’ state parks.”
This year, 76 parks participated by hosting 123 events throughout the day, growing in attendance and total mileage from last year’s 3,000 visitors trekking 6,500 miles.
Mother Neff State Park, located just outside of Waco, had the highest number of participants with 549 hikers attending its events. In the Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon State Park had 310 visitors attend the guided hikes through the park.
Other parks with high turnout that day include Pedernales Falls State Park with 135 total participants, McKinney Falls State Park with 131 hikers, and Brazos Bend State Park with 130 visitors attending events.
Mother Neff State Park also had the largest single hike attendance for the state with 280 participants during a 3-mile afternoon walk, closely surpassing the park’s morning 3-mile hike attended by 237 people.
At Palo Duro Canyon State Park, 157 hikers attended a 1.25-mile hike and 153 people attended a 1.5-mile midnight trek.
In Pedernales Falls State Park, 135 people joined the adoptable pups on the 1.5-mile afternoon “Fido Hike.”