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:Recreation.gov - Hensley LakeMadera County websiteEast Side Streams Flood Frequency Evaluation
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.
The Fresno River has a low elevation drainage and so is only runnable in the winter during and after large rain storms. It will usually take several big storms in a row to get decent flows in this river.
Flows at Road 415 may be about 75% to 90% of Inflow to Hensley Reservoir,(Hidden Dam).
Flows below Coursegold Creek ought to be close to 100%.
California Dept. of Water Resources - Hidden Dam, Hensley
Permits are not required for this reach.
It appears that the take out is at the boat ramp camping area. There may be other possible access points closer to the river inlet or along the river upstream.
Fresno River near Hensley
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