GRAPELAND, TX (KTRE) - Texans all across the state woke up this morning put on their hiking shoes and hit the great outdoors as part of the state's first day hike programs. One of those parks offering hikes is a hidden treasure that was carved out of the Pineywoods during the Great Depression.
Houston County's Mission Tejas gave people the perfect chance to get an early start on their exercise resolution. The hikes also introduced younger hikers to one of the area's best kept secrets.
The hidden paths inside the state park are part of 95 park areas across the state that park rangers are hoping people do not forget about in 2017.
"There are many people who drive by here at 70 mph and do not realize the park is here," Park interpreter Josh Crawford said. "When they learn about our events like our first day hikes, it gives them the chance to come out and learn there is a state park right down the road from their house."
The first day hikes give many the early motivation on those new resolutions.
"We had planned on doing a lot more outdoor stuff in 2016 but school just got stressful," hiker Asa Vermeulen said. "This year should be better we plan to spend more time at the parks."
For others, the hikes were a way to come back to what they love.
"It is always a good time," hiker Karen Dickinson said. "We came last year and decided to come again. We brought our dog. he always gets excited when he sees us going and we take his water bottle with us. It is really inexpensive to come in. You can get a yearly pass and see several in the area. There are also other historic places nearby that you can also see while you are out."
Crawford said the great thing about the Texas Parks program is that there is a wide variety of parks. Crawford has worked with several of them but loves Tejas. He grew up in Lufkin and has a deep connection to the area.
"They all offer something different," Crawford said. "This park has a lot of woodland wonders as we call them but also Texas history going way back to the Spanish history with the El Camino Real Del Los Tejas here actually in the park that you can hike on. This is not the only day hike, it is just the first day hike of 2017."
Crawford said the park is constantly changing and over the next two years will get a new office space, visitor center and exhibit area thanks to funding pushed by State Representative Trent Ashby. Crawford said the changes coming will even give frequent visitors something new to look at.
For more on Mission Tejas and the other 94 parks, click here.