Folsom Lake

Western States Trail

From Rattlesnake Bar to Horseshoe Bar is 3 miles round trip
Closest to a metropolitan area of all the big reservoir parks, Folsom Lake attracts four million visitors a year. Situated in the Sierra Nevada foothills, just 25 miles from Sacramento, the lake is popular with those who like to camp, water-ski, boat, swim and ?sh.

Especially ?sh. Skillful anglers hook trout, cat?sh, large and small mouth bass, perch and Kokanee.

Folsom Lake, formed by Folsom Dam, has 75 miles of shoreline. The dam is located near the con?uence of the North and South forks of the American River; this has created two long arms extending deep into the foothills with a peninsula in between.

In a popular state recreation area like Folsom Lake, rangers have lots of law enforcement duties; they?ve even been known to hold ?VFW? reunions?that?s Veterans of Folsom Wars.

Still, even the most law and order-style rangers like to point out the natural beauty of the 6,000 or so acres of land around the lake. Oak woodland and grassland sprinkled with spring wild?owers are part of the intriguing terrestrial habitat.

Hikers and horseback riders enjoy the park?s 80 miles of trail. One stretch is part of the Western States Pioneer Express Trail between Carson City, Nevada and Sacramento. This path also connects Folsom Lake with Auburn State Recreation Area.
Folsom has a number of environmental camps that are only accessible by foot, boat or bicycle.

The more isolated hiking is along the North Fork and the South Fork of the America River, those two long arms of Folsom Lake. Trails north and south from Folsom Dam also offer some good walking.

One ?ne stretch of Western States Trail is between Rattlesnake Bar and Horseshoe Bar. The ?bars? refer to wide turns in the river where miners often found gold.

There?s enough lake traf?c to remind you?re hiking in a giant recreation area, but not so much that you can?t enjoy a natural experience.

The hike: Before entering the woods, the path meanders a meadowland and offers a curious sight: palm trees. On a humid day, you can imagine you?re on a tropical isle.

The trail ascends into a woodland and crosses a wooden bridge over a creek ?owing into the lake. Notice the tangles of wild grape hanging from the trees.

For the ?rst mile and a half, the main trail (wider than a couple of confusing side paths along the way) rises and falls a few times, passing close to some private property and fence lines.

The trail reaches a somewhat level area by the water. Turn around here or continue with the lakeside trail for a few more miles.


From Auburn-Folsom Road (which runs between its two namesake communities on the west side of the lake), turn east on Horseshoe Bar Road and follow it to its end at a gravel road, a parking area for horse trailers.