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Knobby Knees Trail

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Description

The From Crosswalks to Boardwalks Initiative was formed in 2010 with the goal of getting people from the 'crosswalks of the city to the boardwalks of the refuge'. This partnership has created a network of 16 miles of hiking trails which can be accessed through 3 trailheads. It was designed to be built by the people for the people. Over 800 local and urban volunteers, particularly students, through outdoor service/learning experiences joined together to create this recreational experience to the public. For some volunteers, it was their first time in the woods despite being surrounded by it all of their lives. We expect the volunteers and hikers of this generation will introduce the next generation, their children, to the trails when the time arrives. The Knobby Knees Trail, a 1.0 mile loop, was built in October 2012. Since then, 8 other miles of trails have been connected directly to the Knobby Knees Trail. The Knobby Knees Trailhead was placed in Liberty Municipal Park as a way of providing equal access for those seeking a space for recreation and exercise in a natural setting. Through the gateway of the Knobby Knees Trail, visitors encounter well-marked primitive hiking trails which traverse the conditions of the forest of yesterday when Native American stalked game in the forest (1600s), early explorers forged the Atascocito Road (1757), and settlers ran for their lives through a swollen river bottom during the Runaway Scrape (1836). The Knobby Knees Trail is appropriate for elementary school field trips and hikers seeking an easy, introductory hike. Hikers seeking a multi-mile hike, may use the Knobby Knees Trail to access 8 more miles of trails to explore 6 loops and 4 additional scenic areas. Hikers seeking backpacking opportunities may not camp on the Refuge or trails, however, they may still use the trails to prepare for that next great trek or to earn merit badges. Anglers can fish from Josie Lake Scenic View. The trailhead and all scenic areas are mapped on Google Maps to help hikers find their trail. The Knobby Knees trail is located in an active floodplain. As such, certain measures have been taken to ensure the integrity of the trail and reduce the cost and effort of maintaining the trail. Animals know the best ways to traverse a forest in regards to where water pools, soil is too soft to traverse, and vegetation grows too thick to pass. The framework of the trail was based on animal paths and old logging road scars. The footpath is only cleared of tripping hazards, with foot and nightly animal traffic being the cause of the marked trail on the ground. It is designed to look like a primitive trail, not a wider, sterile trail. Trails are simply blazed by paint in the trees and cleared of scratching hazards from brush. Volunteers also built the infrastructure along the Knobby Knees Trail. Palmer Bayou Boardwalk and observation deck are located at the mid-point of the Knobby Knees Trail. This scenic view was constructed by volunteers from AFL-CIO Union Sportmen's Alliance Work Boots on the Ground Program using recycled plastic lumber and Diamond Piers. This technique was used to mitigate damage to the sensitive baldcypress wetland. Four Boy Scouts earned their Eagle Awards on the Knobby Knees Trail for their contributions of a kiosk, bike rack, benches, and a bat tower complete with interpretive signage. The Knobby Knees Trail and associated trails were meant to be touched and tackled. Trails playfully wind between trees sometimes only 3 feet apart to bring visitors even closer to nature so they may touch it and observe it up close. Larger logs and brush piles have been left in place to give children platforms to climb over and play. Leaving these structures of wildlife habitat also improve wildlife observation for visitors. The entire trail system is within the canopy of the forest and is an innovative example of cost-effective techniques for trail modeling and planning. Two other trailheads (Great Egret's Ridge Trailhead and Tree Frog Trailhead) are also located within two miles offering 7 more miles of trails servicing another part of the community). All three trailheads are accessible by bicycle routes which traverse the city to connect people from their neighborhoods to the trailheads. All trailheads also have bike racks. The From Crosswalks to Boardwalks Initiative is a partnership with many organizations and volunteers through just some of the following organizations: Liberty Independent School District, Premier High School of Dayton, American Hiking Society, Green Ambassadors, Boy Scouts of America, AmeriCorps NCCC, Student Conservation Association, American Conservation Experience, religious organizations, professionals with AFL-CIO, Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston Wilderness, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, City of Liberty, Liberty Community Development Corporation, Friends of Trinity River Refuge, and Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service).