Fresno - 3) Road 415 to boat ramp near dam at Lake Hensley

Fresno, California, US


3) Road 415 to boat ramp near dam at Lake Hensley

Usual Difficulty IV-V+ (for normal flows)
Length 12 Miles
Avg. Gradient 46 fpm

Fresno River near Hensley

Fresno River near Hensley
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 04/10/06 @ 400 cfs?

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
cdec-FHL 300 - 1000 cfs IV-V+ 01h42m 48 cfs (too low)

River Description

Put in:   There no good parking near the Road 415 bridge, so you will probably have to park back aways.   Better to have a shuttle driver drop you off, if you can manage that.   You will also have to duck under fences to access the river here. 

Take out:  The Hensley Lake boat ramp and campground area is the only obvious public access.   A bit of exploring might reveal access closer to the river inlet or along the river upstream, or not. 


Season:  Winter.   The Fresno River has a low elevation drainage and so is only runnable during and after large rain storms.   It will usually take several big storms in a row to get decent flows in this river.


Description:  This section of the Fresno river was first run in the early or mid 1980's, by the Modesto crew of Royal Robbins, Chris Taylor and others. In the mid 1990's Richard Penny and Bill Murphy also explored this section. Their reports are similar.

The run is said to be a lot of flat water interspersed with a number of unrunnable gorges. I think the unrunnable gorges were said to be boulder seives.  The satelite view on the map tab, however, looks very intriguing.   Unrunnable gorges ought to be pretty at least. The area is rolling foothills so portages might not be too bad.   

Road 400 runs fairly close to the creek (on the east side) for much of the distance, and other county roads run fairly close on the west side in short sections. The parts of the river that are visible from the road are quite attractive and look like fun boating, so it may be worth a third look.

Put-in elevation: 1100 feet
Take-out elevation: 540 feet

Camping is available at Hensley Lake for $10 or so.
Stores and restaurants are in Madera or in Raymond, each about 20 minutes away.

Other links of possible interest: - Hensley Lake
Madera County website
East Side Streams Flood Frequency Evaluation

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-05-17 23:33:31


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
February 19 2010 (3252 days ago)
nearseattle (151497)
Bill and I did run a few pretty decent Class IV drops in here. And Paul is correct; the portages
around the little gorges were all easy strolls through open foothill oak-grasslands. However, we
did have to walk right through several backyards of houses in the Yosemite Lakes neighborhood.