Our family recently set a goal to hike all the day hike trails within an hour or two from home. On our last adventure, we explored a truly stunning outdoor destination I knew I had to share with the FresYes Insider family.
This stunning location is called Hensley Lake Recreation Area, located in rural Raymond, CA just about 45 minutes north of Fresno. It is one of the most beautiful, spring-time destinations I’ve ever seen, and the stunning drive there only adds to the experience.
We found out about the location after our neighbors posted on Facebook about visiting Hensley Lake with their dog for a day hike. They shared about the beautiful views and wildflowers they saw, so the following weekend my family and I packed our lunches and headed out.
Hensley Lake is actually a man-made reservoir created by Hidden Dam, which was built by the US Army Corps Engineers in 1974. The dam allows for irrigation and flood control, but the created lake makes for excellent recreation opportunities for Valley residents including boating, fishing, camping and wildlife viewing.
In addition, an extensive network of trails for mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding provide visitors with stunning lake views, a combination of sunny and shaded trails, wildlife encounters and picturesque hillside vistas featuring stunning purple, goldenrod and orange wildflowers – the area is a photographer’s dream. Additionally, within the trail area, there is a full disc golf course.
Hensley Lake offers 55 overnight campsites that feature drinking water access and hose bibs, electric and sewer hookups, flushing toilets, tent pads, BBQs and fish cleaning stations. All campsites are located within walking distance to the trailheads and boat ramp. You can find out more about camping overnight at Hensley Lake here.
I think Hensley Lake would also be a lovely place to visit with children of all ages. There are a picnic area and playground at the top of a hill in the Buck Ridge day use area. There is also a swimming beach at the lake when the weather is warm, and you’d like to take a dip!
Though you can access Hensley Lake from Fresno from 99 or 41 North, I highly recommend the more scenic route that you can access from 99 North, at least on your way to the area. The gently winding road, and currently green and wildflower-blanketed roadsides make for a relaxing weekend drive and allow you to leave your stresses behind and prepare to really enjoy the beauty of nature that you’ll find at Hensley Lake. Click here for directions to Hensley Lake.
There is a $5 charge for a day pass that you pay via card at the entrance to Hensley Lake, so please plan for that. I’m when you see all there is to enjoy there firsthand, you’ll find it to be one of the best $5 you’ve ever spent! I hope you’ll mark your calendar to visit soon, especially this Spring as the rain we received this year has made things truly spectacular to see.
P.S. Tag us if you go exploring! We’re on Instagram as @FresYes, or you can use the hashtag #FresYesInsiders.