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Get in touch with nature at Folsom Lake.
COVID-19 Alert: At this time, all state parks are closed in response to the Coronavirus. Some park activities and facilities mentioned in this article may be currently unavailable.
Folsom Lake and the surrounding beaches, trails, and campgrounds come together to form what is known as Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. This multi-use park can be found at the base of the Sierra foothills, about 25 miles east of Sacramento. Folsom Lake has endless opportunities for outdoor fun, but we’ve narrowed down our top five things to do here:
Pack a lunch and bring your family or friends to Folsom Lake for a picnic! There are two group picnic sites at Granite Bay Main Beach available for reservation, or you could opt to bring a cozy blanket and relax anywhere you’d like, in true picnic style. The reservable picnic sites are open year-round, and they include 11 picnic tables, 1 large BBQ station, nearby bathrooms, and 2 water faucets. During the summer, Folsom Lake also has several food concessions at Granite Bay, Beal's Point and Brown's Ravine Marina Store, so you can always grab your lunch there instead of packing one.
Folsom Lake is a paradise for those looking to break a sweat outdoors. Whether you prefer biking, hiking, or jogging, you’ll find that there’s something for everyone within the 95 total miles of trail here. Cyclists in particular will enjoy the 32-mile bicycle path that extends beyond Folsom Lake and connects to several Sacramento County parks, eventually ending up in Old Sacramento. Some of the other popular trails are Avery’s Pond, Lake Natoma Trail, Folsom Trail, and Johnny Cash Trail.
The best part about Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is, of course, the 11,500 acre lake it surrounds. If you’re looking to get out on the water, there are plenty of options- the park offers boat, kayak, jet ski, water ski, and paddleboard rentals. For a more relaxed atmosphere, head downstream to Lake Natoma, which is mainly used for non-motorized water recreation. The 5 MPH speed limit here makes this spot ideal for rowing and paddleboarding. Swimmers should go to the Granite Bay swim area, where there is a lifeguard on duty during the summer.
Something a bit unique about Folsom Lake is the opportunity to go horseback riding along the paths! Experience the park from a different perspective and book a guided horseback ride with professionally trained horses. On this adventure, you’ll leave the barn and head up Mooney Ridge, through the forest, and along Folsom Lake during the two hour ride.
There are four official campgrounds at Folsom Lake: Peninsula Campground, Beals Point Campground, Negro Bar Campsites, and Avery’s Pond Environmental Campsites. Each one has their own set of amenities and rules, which you can read about here. If you really want to test your nature wits, spend the day fishing on Folsom Lake, then cook up your winnings for a delicious campsite dinner. The lake is known for its populations of bass, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and catfish.
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area can be accessed via either Highway 50 or I-80, and there are multiple park entrances at both Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma. For even more outdoor activities in Rancho Cordova, click here.