You could plant a tree. Or jump into a painfully cold body of water. You could count out and then eat exactly twelve grapes, or say “white rabbit” aloud before anything else—even “good morning.” You could wear white (or is it red?), or eat some of the lesser beans: black-eyed peas.
You could try all of these New Year’s Day superstitions, or you could simply go for a walk in the woods. If you, like many around the globe, believe that what you do on the first day of 2023 might just play a role in deciding your fate this coming year, then how better to spend it than by packing your dozen grapes and setting out to hike one of Texas’s many wonderful trails?
Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the state’s most auspicious hikes to choose from to get just the right start to your 2023. Though you can enjoy these trails any old time, some are part of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s First Day Hikes celebration, an annual tradition that 4,440 Texans joined last year. Almost every state park is hosting a hike (or, for brave souls at Garner and Balmorhea, a frigid float and chilly swim), and reserving a day pass is a good idea, since some of the most popular spots are expected to hit capacity. Happy hiking!
Knob Hill Trail (Northshore Park, Roanoke)
About a forty-minute drive northwest of Dallas, and not far from beloved mountain-biking spot Northshore Trail, this path is best suited to those looking for a longer hike—when completed as a loop, the trail is 11.4 miles long. There’s not a ton of elevation gain, though, and most report the hike to be mildly or moderately difficult. Seeing the trail all the way through will offer you beautiful views of Grapevine Lake (and an 11.4-mile sense of accomplishment).
Medina Loop (Hill Country State Natural Area, Bandera)
This 2.6-mile rugged trail is moderately challenging and boasts an amazing view from the Comanche Bluff Overlook. TPWD advises hikers to “keep an eye out for claret-cup cactus” along the way. Because the trail isn’t especially popular, there’s a chance you’ll find yourself alone traversing the limestone formations. Just you and the claret-cup cacti, at last. Entrance to the natural area will cost you $6.
Pine Gully Trail (Miramar Park, Seabrook)
If you reside near the coast, or decided to spend your holiday beachside, a nice, 6-mile stroll along the Gulf of Mexico is an excellent way to celebrate the turn of a new year. The Pine Gully Trail is paved and widely considered an easy hike. Most complete the full trail in under two hours, and leashed dogs are welcome to come along. Miramar Park offers a lot of special coastal birding opportunities. While many visitors report the trail is especially well kept, even more mentioned the spot’s popularity with mosquitos, so packing bug spray is advisable.
Rock Garden Trail (Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon)
For those who have only made a trip out to the Panhandle to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park once, there’s a good chance you opted for the showier Lighthouse Trail. And maybe, with its famed rock formation and striking colors, rightfully so. But if in 2023 you’re hoping to explore a little beyond the obvious, a New Year’s Day hike down the park’s Rock Garden Trail might be perfect. The scenery! A 5-mile hike with nearly 800 feet of elevation gained, the trail is reported to be “medium hard,” with especially noteworthy views of the canyon rim. Bonus option for night owls: You can even ring in the New Year with a midnight hike (bring a flashlight!) on the Kiowa Trail. Adults who aren’t pass holders will be required to pay an $8 entrance fee.
Thousand Steps Trail (Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso)
You won’t even need your step counter for this one. Most complete this 3.5-mile hike through El Paso’s Franklin Mountains State Park in a little under two hours. The area is a hotspot for birders and trail runners, but generally hikers report the trail to be strenuous, so come prepared. As a plus, the path is fairly wide, making this a good spot to drag your whole family along for some 2023 intention setting through hiking. If you’re thirteen or older, and not a Texas State Park Pass holder, there is a $5 park entrance fee.
The Window Trail (Big Bend National Park, Brewster County)
Maybe 2023 is really going to be the year you think big. And in Texas, it really doesn’t get bigger than the mountains of Big Bend National Park. Hikers usually complete the park’s Window Trail within three hours, but no one can blame you for taking your sweet time along the way to really enjoy the views. Often considered a “moderately challenging” route, the trail runs a little over five miles long and gains some nine hundred feet in elevation along the way. Although one grouchy hiker described the window in question as “not great” and “small,” most say the payoff is worth the effort the trail demands. (It is, after all, one of the most beloved views in the state.) Vehicle entrance to the park will run you $30.