Hensley Lake offers a broad spectrum of aquatic activities including fishing, swimming, jet and waterskiing, power boating, sailing and windsurfing. This widespread lake is located in the foothills northeast of the town of Madera, twenty-six miles north of Millerton Lake. The diverse terrain provides a stunning array of scenic splendors, especially in the three coves along the southeastern side of the lake.
The coves are accessible from a free boat launch located off of Buck Ridge Road which is an ideal location for novice paddlers. It is also one of the prettiest areas on the lake. Buck Ridge day us area is located directly on the shore of Hensley Lake and surrounded by the oak woodlands of the Sierra Nevada foothills, offering a mixture of sun and shade. Day use only at Buck Ridge. Overnight camping is not permitted.
As of January 2014 Hensley Lake is at just 6% capacity. This year’s dry weather has kept the lake at slightly above the minimum pool level. With water releases for irrigation being made at Hensley Lake and the other reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada foothills, lake levels have been dropping fast. This can create problems and challenges for both boaters and swimmers. Dropping lake levels mean that more rocks and shallow areas are being exposed every day.
Boaters can still launch their boats at the Hidden View Boat Ramp, but expect it to be closed also, at which point Hensley Lake will not be available for boating until after the winter rains raise the lake level again.
Hensley Lake provides excellent kayak angling opportunities for largemouth bass from March to late May. It also holds a good population of crappie, sunfish and bluegill as well rainbow trout which 13,000 in the 10 to 12 inch class are planted by the Department of Fish and Game during the winter months.
A boat launch is located in the Buck Ridge Recreation area and in the Hidden View Recreation area which offer access to the numerous game fish found in the waters of Hensley Lake. Some of the best fishing action is found in the secluded coves along the northern arm of the lake.
Open: Hensley Lake is open daily all year, twenty-four hours a day, for boating. Night boating is allowed with running lights. There is no posted boat speed limit except in the restricted 5 m.p.h. buoy areas and a 5 m.p.h. boat speed limit at night.
Fees: The day use and launch fees are excluded if you camp. There is a fee to camp and for pets. A free day use boat launch is located at Buck Ridge Road.
Lake Facilities: There are, two boat launches, swimming, fishing, boating, jet and waterskiing, windsurfing and sailing. Pets are allowed on a leash.