Benbow Lake State Recreation Area

Benbow Lake State Recreation Area

To provide power for the new development in the valley , a concrete dam was constructed across the south fork of the Eel River in 1928. The dam not only provided power but also created Benbow Lake.

The Benbow family, interested in preserving the natural scene around the Hotel and along the river, made efforts to place the land under State protection. In 1956 funds were approved for the Benbow Project was purchased in 1958.

Today the park consists of campsites and a large day-use picnic area. Hiking, picnicking and camping are popular summer time activities, while salmon and steelhead fishing are popular in the winter.

This is a state park but Leashed dogs are allowed.

Benbow Lake is a summer-only attraction: the Eel River is dammed from Memorial Day to Labor Day, creating a lake that's very popular with swimmers and canoeists. During this time, park staff offers guided "canoe hikes"-fun and educational excursions on the lake. 

Benbow Lake Recreation Area today consists of 1,200 acres of riverfront, meadows and redwood groves. The park, fast becoming a cultural center, hosts a summer arts festival, a Shakespeare Festival, and concerts.

A couple of trails sample the recreation area, offering some great views of the lake. If a 2.5 mile hike isn't enough exercise, try swimming or canoeing on the lake or tackling the park's par exercise course. 

Parking: Plenty provided
Fee: unknown
Water: Bring your own if you plan to hike.
Best time of year for this hike: Benbow Lake is a summer-only attraction.
Distance: 2.2 miles
Degree of difficulty: Easy to moderate
Leash rule: Please keep dogs on leash at all times.