Description - Hensley Lake is surrounded by the oak woodlands of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The 1,500-acre lake was created by the construction of Hidden Dam on the Fresno River. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, irrigation, resource management, and recreation, the lake attracts a growing number of park visitors each year.
Copyright: - US Army Corps of Engineers
Hensley Lake, a multi-purpose facility built for flood protection, irrigation and recreation
A bit of history - The former Fresno River basin which is now Hensley Lake used to be home to the Miwok and Yokuts people. Their presence in the area is still evident, mostly in the form of milling areas, where they prepared food. Also of historical interest is a monument in the Buck Ridge Recreation Area erected to the memory of Major James D. Savage. Highly successful as a miner, trader and leader, Major Savage is credited with the discovery of Yosemite Valley on March 25, 1851, during the Mariposa Indian War. As a trader, Savage established a store on the Fresno River where he made a small fortune trading goods for gold with local miners.
- Hensley Lake offers a mixture of outdoor recreations including those with facilities that are handicapped accessible. The 1,500-acre lake has a small visitor center located at the park office. Tours and ranger programs can be scheduled by calling the office.
Hidden View Campground has 55 campsites, some with electric hookup. Several sites also have a shade shelter. Campground attractions including nature trail, playground, swimming beach, and two group areas with picnic shelters. Reservations available
Leashed pets are permitted. Golden Age and Golden Access passports are accepted for a 50% discount on single unit fees. Golden Age cards may be purchased with proof of age (62) and American citizenship.
Recreation - Campers, hikers, water sport enthusiasts, and picnickers find Hensley Lake a scenic and relaxing target.
The 1,500-acre lake provides plenty of space for water-skiing, sailing, personal watercraft, and pleasure boating. Numerous game fish abound in the waters of Hensley Lake. Species include largemouth black bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Rainbow trout are planted during the winter months.
The Buck Ridge Recreation Area has a swim beach and 33 picnic sites, each equipped with a table and barbecue grill. A group picnic area is available by reservation. In the 500-acre wildlife area visitors enjoy hiking, bird watching, hunting, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Climate - Weather conditions around Hensley Lake vary with elevation and exposure. Precipitation falls mainly from October through April. Winter temperatures well below freezing and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread. Clouds can build up during the summer to produce thunderstorm activity. Layered clothing and rain gear is advisable.
Hensley Lake is located near the geographic center of California; the park is 17 miles northeast of Madera.