The Knickerbocker Creek Trail is located in the Auburn State Recreation Area. The trail is one portion of a larger network of trails througout the park, some of which are named and some of which are not. The loop shown on the map below is roughly 4.8 miles long and covers part of the Knickerbocker Creek Trail and some of the unnamed trails. The main trailhead starts at the Cool Staging Area, which is directly behind the fire department in the town of Cool, CA. Parking is regulated and costs $10 per vehicle for day use (bring cash and self-pay). There is a ranger maintained permanent outhouse at the trailhead but no potable water. I refer to the numbers on the map in the commentary that follows.
The trailhead is located northeast of #1 and starts out winding through grassy meadows with beautiful oak trees along the path and in the distance.
At #1, the trail runs adjacent to the paved dam road trail for about three quarters of a mile or so. Most of the spring poppies were gone in early June, but I ran into one survivor along the way.
After hiking for about three quarters of a mile or so, the trail splits off to the left and crosses Knickerbocker Creek at #2. The creek is wide enough so that you cannot simply jump it without getting wet, but someone put rocks in the water that were stable enough to cross without getting wet.
Between #2 and #3, the trail winds through more grassy meadows, which were dry at this point in the year. I ran into a family of turkeys with several poults who were camouflauged nicely in the tall weeds. I also saw a deer who ran off before I could get a good picture.
After travelling down this path about a half a mile, you come to a split (#3 on the map). If you go right, you circle around the south side of the large pond and then hit a network of trails from which you can either loop back around the large pond and head back towards the trailhead or travel deeper into the park. If you take a left at #3 on the map, you will eventually run into a "T," which is the Olmstead Loop Trail at #4 that travels adjacent to HWY 49 (on the east edge of the park). Taking a right (i.e., heading south) on the Olmstead Loop Trail at #4 will take you behind a small school with several portable buildings, which connects with another trail at #5 that heads back into the park towards the ponds. The first pond you reach from the Olmstead Loop Trail is the medium sized pond at #6, which is relatively large (maybe 750 feet long and 150 feet wide). The scenery is very beautiful with cattails along on the pond's edge. This is the perfect spot to take a break, drink some water, and take in the beauty of mother earth. A man who was fishing there said there were small bass in the pond.
Continuing past the pond will bring you back to the network of trails between the small and large ponds. Taking a right will lead you back towards #3, which you can travel back towards the trailhead on the east side of the large pond. Taking a left will lead you towards #7 on the west side of the large pond back into open meadows with oak trees. On this path, you will have to cross Knickerbocker Creek again over a muddy/wet area, but someone has put 2x6 boards down, which are unstable but are able to be crossed if you are careful.
If you continue straight, you will eventually wind up on the paved dam road, which you can either follow back to the parking lot or get back on the trail at #2 (about 100 yards down the road) and head back to the trailhead.
Things to note:
1) There is a well-maintained public outhouse at the trail head but no restrooms in the interior portion of the park.
2) There is no potable water, so you need to bring your own.
3) It costs $10 to park. Bring cash and self pay.
4) There are rattlesnakes in this area, so be mindful. Parts of the trail are very narrow and brush up against thick, tall, weeds where rattlesnakes could dwell without being noticed.
5) There may be horses on the trails.
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