Folsom Lake, California, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Folsom Lake.

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Folsom Lake visitor and community guide

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.

Custom Folsom Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

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

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Folsom Lake

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Folsom Lake photo gallery

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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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