The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging Texans to start the year off with self-guided hikes through state parks.

“First Day Hikes” at Texas’s state parks and natural areas aim to help visitors commit to their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy, according to a TPWD press release. Last year, 5,242 visitors ushered in 2020 by hiking, biking and riding a total of 9,564 miles statewide.

This year, many hikes will be self-guided to allow hikers to maintain social distancing, the TPWD stated.

Johnson Branch State Park near Valley View will host a self-guided trout fishing opportunity Jan. 1. Participants may head to the Kid Fish Pond anytime during the day for the self-guided program.

Isle Du Bois State Park near Sanger will offer a self-guided First Day Hike, as well.

“If nothing else, 2020 has shown us the value of getting outdoors,” Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks, said in the release. “Personally, I am looking forward to saying goodbye to 2020, having some black-eyed peas and starting out the new year with a First Day Hike. Spending time outdoors is a great way to connect with friends and family in a healthy way. While we must still recreate responsibly, I hope that everyone will join us in ushering in 2021 with a First Day Hike at your favorite state park.”

Trails at Texas State Parks range in length and difficulty levels across the state. Trail maps for Johnson Branch State Park and Isle Du Bois State Park, both part of Ray Roberts Lake State Park, are available in PDF form on the park website at

Anyone planning a trip to a Texas State Park should keep in mind that parks are operating at a limited capacity, the state parks department advised. Reserving a day pass in advance is highly recommended since some parks are expected to reach their capacity limit.

Reserve day passes online through the TPWD reservation website or by calling 512-389-8900.

Park visitors are also encouraged to follow posted rules, including wearing a mask while inside buildings or when social distancing isn’t possible.

For other updates, check the park’s Facebook page or call the park office at 940-637-2294. Johnson Branch State Park is located off Farm-to-Market Road 3002, southeast of Valley View.

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