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General Information

Hensley Lake, a multi-purpose facility built for flood protection, irrigation and recreation
Copyright: - US Army Corps of Engineers
Hensley Lake, a multi-purpose facility built for flood protection, irrigation and recreation
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.

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.

Attractions - 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.

Location - Hensley Lake is located near the geographic center of California; the park is 17 miles northeast of Madera.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Jeff C (Hollister, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Very nice but VERY cold at night; none of the complaints from earlier people applied. Clean, hot showers, nice campgrounds. Hidden View is nice. BLAZING hot in the summer, 100+

Filed By: PATRICIA philp (Raymond, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: my husband and i go all the time to fish in our boat. we live about 10 miles from the lake,we have agreat time.i was reading all the other reports about the lake and were is the 9 -hole golf course, we have never seen or heard of one there.

Filed By: Kendall Richards (Hanford, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I am a disc golfer and I heard that there was a 9 hole golf course. I took a friend of mine and went and played the course, it had a lot of cockleburrs so wear pant to play. We looked around the park and found that they have a nice looking camp ground and day use area. So I have planned a trip taking both sides of the family 35-40 people. I will let you know how it turns out. I would recommend Hensley Lake.

Filed By: Pao Xiong (Fresno, Ca)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: First off I would like to say that Hensley Lake is probably one of the most popular crappie fisheries around. Local panfish fisherman are arriving by the dozen to fish for these nice palm size slabs. Getting them to bite was the easy part. But finding them, a whole different ball game. My recent trip was soaked by this recent rain fall. Never the less I still enjoyed my time at this lake. I'd say spring time is the best time to visit this lake. All the hill sides are still green and beautiful. Plus no rattlesnakes crossing the trails yet. If the rain had stop I would have been perfect. I didn't catch any thing though. But I would definitely give it another try.

Filed By: Ann Bates (North Fork, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This is a great place to bring your horses for a rather strenuous day ride from November thru early April. After that, there are too many rattlesnakes. Buck Ridge has numerous trails and you cannot get lost. The river is on one side and it is fenced on the other two sides. You may see mountain bikers, but everybody has been courteous and I have riden here for 3 seasons. I don't try to get to the lake because you have to go through cockleburrs and there are places where the horses can sink up to their hocks. There is a place to water horses on the trail during Winter and Spring. One of my favorite places to ride. Has restrooms and picnic tables as well as hitching posts.

Filed By: Elaine Vela (Coarsegold, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: I agree with Tessa and Mike, to a point. I don't understand why the rules are ONLY in Spanish. I thought that Very odd. I've never seen anything like it. Maybe the English ones were torn down??? If I were driving more than 10 minutes to get there, I would go to Millerton or Shaver instead, BUT, we just moved to Yosemite Lakes Park, and this is in our back yard, SO, in that regard, we loved it. It was empty (except I guess Mike and Tessa were there) and we swam and had a good time. I think if you had jet skis or were fishing it might be a good place to go, because of the lack of people. Thanks be to God, we weren't attacked by stuff and didn't see any rattlesnakes, but then again, it was our first trip...

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More Information

Contact Information:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hensley Lake, P.O. Box 85 , Raymond, CA, 93653-0085, Phone: 559-673-5151, Fax: 559-673-2044
, hensley-info@spk.usace.army.mil

Additional Information:
California Lakes and Reservoirs - The lakes and reservoirs described here range from huge reservoirs to small mountain lakes. The lakes are often part of large recreation areas, National Forests or State Parks.
Central Valley Region - California's breadbasket, the great Central Valley, stretches for 450 miles down the center of the state, from Willows to Bakersfield. This region includes culturally diverse communities, historic sites, exceptional outdoor recreation, abundant wildlife and the California Delta.
Gold Country Region - The Gold Country Region lies in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. With its remnants of the gold rush era, pastoral towns, Sierra foothills, recreational and cultural activities, this region is filled with opportunities.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Official agency website.


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