Description: Just north-west of Sacramento in the suburb of Folsom is the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, actually a reservoir with surrounding park. The southern end of the lake is contained by a series of dams and dikes. At the south-east end of the lake is the earthen Mormon Island Dam, also called Dike Eight. This dam is about 3/4 miles long, and takes a dog-leg turn between the west and middle third. The site is flyable with either a south wind or a north wind, although the north lake side is necessarily a lesser slope. The slope is maybe 75 feet high, but steep, and is covered with rocks on both sides, with a smooth sandy dirt road on top. The south slope is cushioned a little with weeds, and there is a grassy field below, but the north slope is strictly jagged rock. Gotta pay your five dollar "day use fee" to park there.
Directions: From I-80 in Roseville (north-east of Sacramento), take the Douglas Blvd. exit and go east on Douglas about 5.2 miles. Turn right/south on Folsom-Auburn Road, and go about 2.5 miles. Turn left/east on Folsom Dam Road about 2.5 miles (across the Folsom Dam--check out the flag!), and turn left/east on Natoma Street. Go about 0.5 miles, and turn left/north into the park toward the "Folsom Point Boat Launch" (formerly "Dyke 8"). Pay your $5 at the check point guard shack, and veer right at the fork, then right again onto gravel to the top of the hill. Park at the yellow steel gate with the stop sign. Gather up your stuff, and walk the 200 yards east down the dirt road to the dike.
From Highway 50, turn off at Folsom Blvd. and go north about 2.5 miles. Turn right/east on Natoma Street, and go about 3 miles. Turn left/north at the "Folsom Point Boat Launch", and continue as above.
Flying: The first time I flew the place, the wind was anemic from the south, and it started raining, so it was hardly a fair assessment. However, the second time I flew it, the wind was about 25mph from the NW, and it was a real kick. This relatively small slope requires proportionately greater wind for good lift and has a relatively small lift/compression zone, but the zone is l-l-long, the whole length of the dam, and very smooth when blowing from the north. The dog-leg turn in the middle of the dam would be a good place to find concentrated lift in a south wind if it were not for the upwind trees rotorizing the air, but the rest of the dam on both sides has a clear path for the wind. People complain about landing at this site, but the road on the top is very smooth in places, really not a bad place to land. Alternatively, the star thistle on the south slope is a passable spot also, though there are rocks underneath. For really sensitive stuff, you could easily land in the soft grass at the foot of the slope and make the hike down, or land at the ends of the dam in the grass to the side. Landing on the blasted granite slabs on the north face would be . . .er . . . sub optimal. Clearly an artificial site, it is kind of cool to skim several feet off the weeds for the entire length of the dam with nearly the same lift. This is not an ideal slope, but is great with higher winds, and it's proximity to the city and the access of this public property site keep it popular.
Lake Current Conditions. Click on "Plot all FLD sensors" at the bottom
of the page to see graphs of the data.
USGS spycam photo of Folsom Lake Dike Eight
Yahoo Map of south Folsom Lake The west end of Dike Eight is just north of the junction of Natoma Street and Green Valley Road.
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12/17/99: The day after a storm brings a cool brisk NW wind, about
25 mph. Here is Scott Woodward on the sticks with his Foameron, fast
passes and inverted passes with Frank Schlosser kibitzing.