Folsom Lake State Recreation Area

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area

Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento Counties, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area offers opportunities for hiking, biking, running, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, water-skiing and boating. 

Folsom Lake is about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento in the lower Sierra Nevada foothills. It is the ninth-largest reservoir in California and a major recreational area for the Sacramento area. The Lake was created by Folsom Dam which was built in 1955 to control the American River.

Recreational activities along the reservoir’s 75 miles of shoreline and contiguous acreage are managed by California State Parks. 

Fishing is permitted, and trout, catfish and bass fishing is considered very good. Visitors can see the Folsom Powerhouse (once called “the greatest operative electrical plant on the American continent”), which from 1885 to 1952 produced 11,000 volts of electricity for Sacramento residents.

For cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers, the 32-mile American River Trail connects the lake with many Sacramento County parks before reaching the Old Sacramento historic district downtown.

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area also includes Lake Natoma which is popular for kayaking, small-craft sailing, crew racing, stand-up paddle-boarding and other aquatic sports (sorry, dogs aren’t allowed in the water here).

Visitors with dogs can also view the rearing ponds at the nearby Nimbus Fish Hatchery, where millions of salmon fry are produced. 

  • Hours: Nov.-Jan.: 8am-5pm, Feb.: 8am-6pm, Mar.-Apr.: 8am-8pm, May-Aug.: 8am-9pm, Sep.: 8am-8pm, Oct. 8am-7pm
  • Fees: Parking: No fees, however parking for major sporting and Coliseum events: $40 per vehicle
  • Dogs: No fee. Dogs are not allowed in the marsh areas. Dogs must be on a leash (six-foot maximum) elsewhere in the park

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