Hensley Lake

Hensley Lake is surrounded by the oak woodlands of the Sierra Nevada foothills. The 1,570-acre lake was created by the construction of Hidden Dam on the Fresno River. The dam is 163 feet high, 5,730 feet long and has a capacity of 90,000 acre feet of water.

Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, irrigation, resource management, and recreation -- the lake attracts a growing number of visitors each year.

 Park Brochure

Located near the geographic center of California, the park is 17 miles northeast of Madera. View Map

Mailing Address:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Hensley Lake
P.O. Box 85
Raymond, CA 93653-0085

FAX 559-673-2044


Office Hours:
Monday - Friday 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

From Madera, follow Road 400 northeast to Hensley Lake.


All day use facilities, campgrounds and the project office are open to the public.

 Recreation Area Services Status

Visitor Center:
A small visitor center is located at the project office. Park ranger programs can be scheduled by calling 559-673-5151.

Day Use:
The Buck Ridge Recreation Area has a swim beach and 40 picnic sites, each equipped with a table and barbecue grill. A group picnic area with barbecue, tables, and horseshoe pits is available by reservation through Recreation.gov. In the 500-acre wildlife area you may enjoy hiking, bird watching, hunting, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

 Buck Ridge Trail Map

Hidden View campground has 53 campsites, flush restrooms with showers and a trailer dump station. Campsites are equipped with a table, fire pit, and barbecue grill. Some sites have electric hookup. Some sites also have a shade shelter.  

The Hidden View Area also has a self-guided nature trail, and playground. There is a 14-day limit per stay. The Hidden View campground gates open at 6 a.m. daily. The gates close at 10 p.m. during peak season (President's Day weekend thru September 30) and 8 p.m. off-season.

 Hidden View Campground Map

Group Camping:
Hidden View has two group camping areas, with gazebo picnic shelters. Each group camping area is available by reservation to groups of up to 50 people through Recreation.gov. Groups may also reserve the Wakalumi primitive area by calling our project headquarters.

The 1,570-acre lake provides plenty of space for water-skiing, sailing, personal watercraft and pleasure boating. Launch ramps are located in the Buck Ridge and Hidden View recreation areas.

Take an online boating course at BoatEd.com. Passing this California boating safety course will also make you eligible for a discount on your boat or PWC insurance with many insurance providers.


  • Camping - $20 standard, $30 electric
  • Group Camping - $100
  • Group Day Use - $30
  • Day Use - $10, $40 Annual Pass

The Corps of Engineers participates in the America the Beautiful-Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series. The series includes the; Annual Pass, Every Kid Outdoors Pass available to 4th graders, Annual Senior Pass, Lifetime Senior Pass, Lifetime Access Pass, Volunteer Pass, and Military Pass. Be sure to pick up your America the Beautiful pass at any of our Corps projects as the money is directly invested back into the facilities to improve your recreational experience. Get more details about the pass series here.

The Annual Pass is a onetime purchase of $80. You will have access to all of your favorite Corps recreation areas and participating federal agencies public lands. The Annual Pass is good for one year from the date of purchase.

Individuals 62 years and older have the choice of purchasing an Annual Senior Pass for $20 which is good for one year from the date of purchase, or a Lifetime Senior Pass for $80, which does not expire. Senior and Access Pass holders also receive a 50 percent discount on campsites at Corps-managed campgrounds.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also sells their Corps Annual Pass for $40. The Corps Annual Pass gives unlimited access to day-use areas at any Corps project for one calendar year at the date of purchase.

Numerous game fish abound in the waters of Hensley Lake. Species include largemouth black bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Rainbow trout are planted during the winter months. Some of the best fishing is found in the coves around the lake. Anglers may keep 2 bass over 15" in length.

 Fish Guide with Pictures


 Hunting Guide

Volunteer at Hensley Lake:
Check out our Volunteer Application (MS Word format)

Historical Information:
The former Fresno River basin which is now Hensley Lake used to be home to the Miwok and Yokuts people. Their presence in the area is still evident, mostly in the form of milling areas, where they prepared food.

Also of historical interest is a monument in the Buck Ridge Recreation Area erected to the memory of Major James D. Savage. Highly successful as a miner, trader and leader, Major Savage is credited with the discovery of Yosemite Valley on March 25, 1851, during the Mariposa Indian War. As a trader, Savage established a store on the Fresno River where he made a small fortune trading goods for gold with local miners.

Please help us make everyone's visit enjoyable by:

  • Watching children closely when around water.
  • Keeping your pets on a leash at all times.
  • Keeping fires confined to grills and pits and using only dead and down wood.
  • Maintaining quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Operating vehicles only on designated roads and parking areas provided.
  • Camping only in designated campsites.
  • Helping clean up litter and keeping a neat campsite.
  • Reporting safety hazards to project staff.
  • Reading the project rules, copies of which are posted throughout the facility.

All areas are patrolled by Corps of Engineers park rangers and deputies of the Madera County Sheriff's Department. If you need help, contact a park ranger or deputy sheriff, or dial 9-1-1.

Corps Recreation Across our Nation

Volunteer at a Corps Recreation Area

State Hunting & Fishing Regulations

Recreation on Federal Lands

Project Documents:

 Hidden Dam Hensley Lake Public Input Form

 Hidden Reservoir Master Plan 1968

Rules and Regulations: Title 36 - Parks, Forests, and Public Property Chapter III - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Part 327 - Rules and regulations governing public use of Water Resources Development Projects administered by the Chief of Engineers.