Folsom Lake, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - Gold Country -

Folsom Lake lays magnificently nestled along the American River at the base of the Sierra foothills. It is surrounded by an abundance of striking scenic views and rolling hills. The 75-mile shoreline attracts more than four million visitors a year. Folsom Lake is one of the most visited lakes in California. It is situated in Northern California’s Gold Country, about 30 miles northeast of Sacramento. Filled with miles of biking, walking and equestrian trails, Folsom Lake is a prime wilderness retreat. Outdoor lovers will savor the amazing opportunities that include sailing, water-skiing, fishing, swimming and sunbathing.

The city of Folsom is rich in history. The Historic District consists of homes, landmark sites, and the original downtown which now boasts one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, and beautiful galleries. The city’s award-winning Parks and Recreation Department at Folsom Lake is exceptional. Residents and visitors alike enjoy Folsom’s multitude of recreational amenities including several miles of pedestrian and bike trails, an aquatic center with a 50-meter Olympic pool, a beautiful golf course, and a zoo sanctuary.

Folsom Dam was constructed to control the American River and to provide flood control and water rights for the Sacramento Valley. The Folsom Project, overseen by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, provides flood control, hydroelectricity, drinking water and water irrigation. The California Department of Parks and Recreation manages the recreation at Folsom Reservoir.

Folsom Lake is home to three public campgrounds and miles of well-paved bike and advanced mountain bike trails. The American River Water Education Center displays striking exhibits that encourage water education related to the American River Watershed.

Year-round bank and boat fishing is very popular. Folsom Lake offers miles of beach, beautiful coves, and several convenient spots to launch boats. The bike trails and camping at Granite Bay and Beal’s Point are truly worth exploring. Valley oak, blue oak, black oak, California buckeye, oracle oak, and digger pines are interspersed throughout the woodlands. During the spring, a dazzling variety of wildflowers blanket the area. The variety includes Indian paintbrush, California poppy, larkspur, lupine, bordicaea, fiddle neck, Dutchman’s pipe as well as monkey flower.

Folsom Lake and the surrounding recreation areas offer excellent opportunities for hiking, biking, running, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, boating, fishing and interpretive programs. There is a long bicycle path that connects Folsom Lake with many Sacramento County parks. Fishing at Folsom Lake is an exhilarating adventure in itself. Popular catches include trout, catfish, large and smallmouth bass, perch. Year-round fishing consists of rainbow trout, brown trout, black bass, catfish, salmon, bullhead, crayfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, crappie, and bluegill.

Visitors should remember to visit the Folsom Powerhouse, once known as “the greatest operative electrical plant on the American continent.” The famous Oaks Nature Trail is just over three quarters of a mile and offers a great experience for nature lovers. Nature enthusiasts will be truly surprised by the fabulous lakeshore views and one-of-a-kind interpretive panels located throughout the trail.

Wildlife lovers can take peeks at deer, gray foxes, rabbits, coyotes, back-tailed deer, ground squirrels, raccoons, opossums, wild turkeys and various reptiles. Mountain lions and bobcats can also be seen roaming around the area. For birders, there are heron rookeries on Anderson Island Nature Preserve. The area is also home to ducks, scrub jays, quails, wrens and towhees. Canada geese usually winter at Folsom Lake. Kingfishers, grebes and gulls are often sighted near the water and red-tailed hawks, kestrels and eagles can be seen soaring over Folsom Lake.

Folsom Lake is surrounded by miles of beautifully preserved wetlands and creeks. Folsom is home to famous bridges that include Lake Natoma Crossing, Rainbow Bridge, and a historic truss bridge. The town is intersected by a portion of the American River which is filled with stunning walking, biking, and equestrian trails.

Folsom Lake is the site of many popular special events that include bass fishing tournaments, rowing competitions, running races, horseback endurance rides, and sailboat regattas, among other activities that take place throughout the year. Summer education programs are also very popular and a special treat for visitors.

Folsom is considered a gateway to the Sierra Mountains. The city has recently experienced a huge population growth due to excellent job opportunities, wonderful neighborhoods, magnificent shopping centers and excellent recreational opportunities. Neighboring El Dorado County is well known for its wineries and apple orchards.

Folsom Lake, home of one of the largest inland marinas in California, offers some of the best boating, sailing, fishing, hiking, biking, camping and beautiful beach experiences possible. Folsom is a top-notch city with the special charm of a small town. Visitors and residents enjoy the exciting Gold Rush history intermixed with modern living and water so clear you can peek to the bottom. Folsom’s residents share a rich sense of community and pride that make Folsom Lake a unique place to live and visit.

Things to do at Folsom Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Folsom Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Folsom Lake Photo Gallery

Folsom Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 11,450 acres

Shoreline Length: 75 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 466 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 347 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 480 feet

Water Volume: 1,010,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1956

Lake Area-Population: 70,835

Drainage Area: 1,875 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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