Folsom is a big city in Sacramento County with a population of almost 70,000 people. While it has many locations and activities inside that allow residents and tourists to have some fun and entertain themselves, there is one notable point that deserves a separate large review — Folsom lake, and another smaller water point that attracts many visitors — lake Natoma. Together, they take about 20,000 acres of territory.
The city lies between these two lakes and provides locals and tourists with outstanding views and opportunities to run from the city and enjoy a sunny day out on the water. Besides numerous hiking and running trails for walking, there are other unusual things to do like horse riding and fishing. Every year, almost two million guests visit both lakes and enjoy the natural vibe.
In this review, we will help you explore both lakes and ways to have a fantastic time there; we will also provide you with a couple of hints regarding the region’s climate at the end. If you live in Folsom or nearby cities or are a visitor who is checking out the region, Folsom and Natoma lakes are definitely worth getting to.
Hike, cycle, or run through various trials
We will begin with probably the most obvious activity you can imagine when you visit a lake in any region. Folsom and Natoma lakes trails fit perfectly for hours-long walks, cycling, and jogging.
There are seven different paths from which you can choose. All of them provide walkers, cyclists, and runners with outstanding views and marvelous landscapes. The shortest trails will take one or two hours to explore; some paths are 20-30 miles which means you can spend the whole day (or even several days) checking them out fully.
Among the most spectacular trails are:
- The one from Red Bank to Brown’s Ravine (around two hours, almost five miles)
- Monte Vista Inner Loop (2,7 miles, one hour)
- Darrington trail to Peninsula (a long one –– eight hours, 20 miles).
Bright green trees, vast fields, the freshest air, amazing views –– any trail you select for your walk, jog, or cycling trip will satisfy you and bring a blissful feeling of harmony and joy.
Swim and go boating
Both lakes are perfect for swimming in summer when it can be overwhelmingly hot or boating when it is less burning. Besides, people enjoy canoeing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, and other water activities here.
There are three popular points near Folsom lake (and lake Natoma as well) that welcome tourists and residents on sunny days to have a fantastic time on the beach:
- Beals Point
- Nimbus Flat
- Granite Bay
- Negro Bar.
All these spots are well-developed and provide visitors with well-maintained recreation zones, boat rental points, and even snack bars where guests can grab a bite. Sailboard lessons are available at Beals Point, while Nimbus Flat is famous for the Sacramento State Aquatic Center where you can learn something new and get water sports training, too.
Sometimes we all need such beautiful days when we do not have to rush anywhere and can spend hours on the beach, and Folsom lake suits us perfectly in such cases.
Check out the local flora and fauna
Plenty of visitors come to the Folsom lake area not only to hike or relax on the beach but also to see amazing things they cannot catch in big cities. The nature in the area is greatly preserved, and you will see many breathtaking things when you walk around Folsom lake.
Here, your full attention is needed to spot raccoons, foxes, deers, birds, and other sweet animals. Not to mention a huge variety of beautiful plants, flowers, trees, and beautiful forests. All things you see will probably blow your mind and make you come back over and over again.
Have a picnic with your friends and family
Folsom Lake is a beloved spot for picnic fans who love to chill outside with delicious food. The reason is simple: there are many areas around the lake that welcome you for a picnic, and some of them even have tables and a possibility to book one in advance.
If you do not reserve any table, simply come to any area you like and choose a spot (remember to take a warm blanket with you to feel comfortable on the ground). But if you opt for a booking, there will be tables, a barbecue station, and bathrooms nearby.
Those who have not planned to have a picnic can always buy some food in the local snack bars and organize a spontaneous lunch right away.
Ride a horse
Horse Riding is a popular activity at Folsom lake, and both newbies, amateurs, and professionals are welcome to try it. This is a rather unique experience in the area that will definitely be memorable.
You can book a two-hour tour with a guide and a professionally trained horse to explore the woods and have an amazing adventure. With all the Folsom lake's magnificent views, this walk will become unforgettable and allow you to explore the area from the other perspective.
If you adore fishing and love sitting with a rod for long minutes and even hours, Folsom and Natoma lakes are fantastic locations for you. Not only is the water incredibly clean here but also plenty of fish swim around.
Wake up on a sunny day, take good company with you, use one of the local boat rentals to hire a watercraft that is convenient for fishing, and begin your fishing adventure on Folsom or Natoma lakes.
Here, you may catch different fish like catfish, trout, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass, largemouth, and others. Fishing is not something you do every day, so going to Folsom lake for such leisure might become a fantastic experience for you and your friends or family members.
Choose a campground to leave for a night
Here is an amazing idea for you: after a day that you have spent fishing, why don’t you stay at one of the local campsites overnight? You will be able to cook the fish you have caught and have a great dinner out. Then, fall in the deepest sleep in the wildlife (a bit civilized, though, and absolutely safe).
Of course, this way to spend a night will work not only if you go fishing but if you simply have walked around Folsom lake for the whole day or love spending nights in nature and breathing clean air.
There are four campgrounds near Folsom lake that you can turn to:
- Negro Bar Group Camp
- Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
- Beals Point Campground
- Peninsula Campground.
Please note that each camping site has its own regulations and rules that visitors should follow. Ensure you find them out before you get to the spot.
All of these campgrounds are adorable and beloved by both residents who come here more than once or twice and tourists who sometimes get to camps accidentally. We recommend you spend a night in one of these well-developed camping territories near Folsom and Natoma lakes.
Visit the local historical powerhouse
One of the famous Sacramento sights, the Folsom Powerhouse was constructed in 1893 and still welcomes visitors who want to know more about the local history and see what the powerhouse that is more than one century old looks like nowadays.
The powerhouse is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. Here, you can check various exhibitions and join a guided tour that will help you discover more details about the location.
So, this was the list of all fantastic activities available at Folsom lake (and its smaller relative closeby, lake Natoma). We hope that you will enjoy them, whether you are a local who lives in Folsom or nearby cities for decades or a tourist who decides to spend a weekend in Sacramento.
There is another thing you should know: visiting parks that surround the huge Folsom lake might be a tricky and even dangerous activity, so there are some tips you have to read before you go. Check them out below.
Things to Bear in Mind Before You Visit Folsom Lake
There are some recommendations provided by the local authorities (California Department of Parks and Recreation, particularly) that you should take into account before you go to the Folsom lake area. They are tied to the local climate, code of conduct, and information on the parks’ working periods.
Ensure that parks near the lake are open
If you aim to visit a specific park or zone, check the Department’s site to make sure that it is currently open. The information there is updated regularly so users can plan their visits without any problem. On the webpage, you will also find the details regarding vehicular entrances to different parks around the lake.
Leave No Trash Behind
This is a very important rule that you must obey to keep nature’s beauty. Look for bins to get rid of trash; after a picnic with your friends or family, ensure that all of you have taken all the rubbish away and left no trace.
Read the Safety Guide Before You Go
The Department has developed a smart safety guide for all visitors that contains useful advice like “use an insect repellent” and “do not walk off trails during hiking”. The guide is available on the Department’s site, too.
Follow the COVID-19 Restrictions
Hopefully, at some point, these restrictions will not be enforceable; however, before the disease is beaten, the Department kindly asks all visitors to keep themselves and others safe from it.
Get Dressed Appropriately
Knowing that you are visiting Folsom Lake and its recreation zones in Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter is not enough. Always prepare warm clothes to take with you and wear a couple of layers. This rule does not work for Summer: this season in the region is normally hot and dry, and you have to be careful not to overheat.
Bring Your Dog with You!
Lastly, if you have any doubts regarding bringing your dog (or dogs) with you to Folsom lake, do not hesitate to take your pets with you. Almost all areas around the lake welcome dogs, and they can also swim in the water. There are a couple of exceptions (like Nimbus Flat, Negro Bar, Granite Bay, and Beals Point swim areas) where dogs are not allowed; the rest of the territories are all for pets.
All in all, we hope that you will enjoy magnificent hours near Folsom lake and try all the suggested activities. Just keep in mind all the safety rules and recommendations, and have a nice day on the lake!