If you’ve wanted to experience the beauty of Fisheating Creek but aren’t a paddler, the Knobby Knee Trail is an easy way to enjoy a sampling of the braided wild and scenic waterway and its beautiful cypresses. Set in the floodplain of the creek, the trail is prone to flooding, but it showcases some very unusual and ancient trees in Fisheating Creek WMA.
Length: 1.7 miles
Fees / Permits: $2 per person day use fee. Waived if camping.
Difficulty: easy unless flooded
Bug factor: moderate to high
Restroom: at the campground
Parking – and access – is through Fisheating Creek Outpost in Palmdale, where there is a day use fee. If you’re camped at the campground, there is no extra charge to enjoy this hike. January through May are the best times to hike this trail if you wish to keep your feet dry.
This hike is located inside Fisheating Creek Outpost, which is just north of SR 29 along US 27 in Palmdale.
Park in the main parking area at Fisheating Creek Outpost, on the left beyond the office after you pay your day use fee. From the parking area, walk across an open area behind the tennis courts to find the walk-in gate to Fisheating Creek WMA. Follow the causeway beyond the gate. You soon reach the sign for the Knobby Knee Trail. Turn left.
There are cypresses in every direction, and plenty of cypress knees throughout the forest floor. Follow the yellow blazes to stay on the outer loop. There are puddles in the trail, since you’re in the Fisheating Creek floodplain, these shouldn’t be a surprise. There may be more.
After a half mile, the trail turns sharply right to parallel a barbed wire fence. At the junction with the Creek Overlook and the blue-blazed Cross Trail, turn left. This short spur trail takes you out to the grassy edge of Fisheating Creek for a scenic panorama of the sandy beaches on the far side.
Return back up the spur trail between the cypress knees and turn left on the main yellow-blazed trail. By 0.7 mile, the trail continues across a natural weir for the outflow of a side channel of the creek. The blazes lead you to an absolutely beautiful setting of cypresses and cypress knees along Fisheating Creekand its braided side channels. Keep following the yellow blazes, as the footpath is not especially distinct in this area.
Passing a very large oak, you walk over roots that stretch out along the sand next to the creek. The blazes lead you between the braided channels to walk between the waterways, the trail meandering back and forth between large trees sporting hanging gardens of bromeliads.
By 0.9 mile, the trail drops down into an area where aquatic plants are strewn across the footpath. It’s obvious at many times of year this part of the trail is underwater. You come up to a truly bizarre collection of cypress knees in all sorts of unusual shapes and sizes. The footpath rises up into what looks like a field, but you are still surrounded by cypress knees. By now, it’s obvious why the trail earned its unusual name.
You pass a sign with a binoculars symbol. It points left down another spur trail leading to a scenic spot along Fisheating Creek. There are no blazes to lead you down the spur trail, just an open grassy area leading to the creek. As you continue past this point, the trail finally swings away from Fisheating Creek. It curves to the right and enters a pasture created along the creek. You walk through more collections of cypress knees. The cypresses themselves are high and dry, not the optimum habitat for cypresses but surrounding canals for the pasture likely changed the hydrology of the cypress swamp and removed the water once flowing across this part of the landscape.
At a fence line, the yellow blazes make a sharp right leading towards a power easement before ducking into a pretty oak hammock. The oak trees are so swaddled in bromeliads that they look like evergreens. After leading you through this beauty spot, the trail turns back towards the fenceline again. It skirts around a small marsh, leaving the fence briefly to cut through the cypress trees.
The blue-blazed trail Cross Trail comes in from the left. The Yellow Trail jogs left to continue down the fenceline. It finally closes the loop after 1.5 miles. Continue back along this causeway to the gate back into Fisheating Creek Outpost. Follow the fence back around the old tennis courts to the parking area.