HARKER HEIGHTS — I could hear crickets hidden in the evergreen, chirping for miles.                                              

Morning hikes are the best and a great way to start the off the day. Coffee helps as well. Although it was early in the day, the sun was already out and the air was humid and hot. Luckily, before I started my hike on the trails at Dana Peak Park, I marinated myself in sunblock and deet 40. The view of the landscape is what makes the trails at this particular park such a great place to hike. Every time I go back to Dana Peak Park, I always forget how astonishing the view is from the trails. If the park was not 30 minutes from my house I would definitely be doing my morning runs on the trails instead of on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. I have always hated running on concrete. Running on dirt has always felt better.

Owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, the park is 600 acres and has a 6.8 mile trail loop. The park is located on the shoreline of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which is 6,430 acres and has a 58-mile shoreline. In 1968 the Army Corps of Engineers created the lake, along with the Stillhouse Hollow Dam.

The park has six trails: Back Stage Pass, which is 1.3 miles; Fence Line Trail, which is 3.4 miles; Twin Peaks Trail, which is 1.6 miles; 1-Niner Trail, which is 2.1 miles; Stillhouse, which is 1.3 miles; and Connector Trail (trails that connect to a main trail). The trails are located outside the main entrance to the park.

According to one of the six trail guidelines set by the International Mountain Bicycling Association for the park, only open trails should be used. All the trail guidelines can be found on the trail board, which is located at the trails’ starting point.

Boating, camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, running, bird watching and hunting are all welcome at the park. Dogs on a leash are also welcome. The park has a four-lane boat ramp, and visitors can rent motor boats, kayaks, and canoes, or bring their own.

When visiting the park trails I would recommend wearing sunblock, bug spray, carrying a water source, and wearing comfortable shoes and clothes. The trails do have small rocks and uneven footing, this is when shoes with good grip come in handy. The trails at Dana Peak Park are free, but there is a $5 charge per vehicle that goes through the main entrance of the park. Dana Peak Park is free for active duty military, with ID.

Dana Peak Park is open from 6 a.m.- 9 p.m. and is located in Harker Heights at 3800 Comanche Gap Rd.