For many considering using Barton Flats, Lobo - Oso, San Gorgonio, or Heart Bar Campgrounds as a higher-altitude getaway in Barton Flats Recreation Area, Jenks Lake can be a definite deciding factor. Nestled into the San Bernardino National Forest at 6,739 feet and only a mile from Barton Flats Campground, this mountain lake is very well visited in the summertime—and for good reason.
Even though it’s man made, Jenks Lake is fed in part by the Santa Ana River, which it receives by way of a flume. There are no motorboats allowed, but canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and float tubes are a go. There is a long wooden ramp from which to launch your watercraft, but be aware that you’ll have to walk it down a few stairs first.
A big draw for Jenks Lake is the excellent fishing. It’s stocked in the spring and summer with rainbow trout, and the best time to catch them is between April and October. Largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish and catfish are also fun targets for anglers. For those that prefer river fishing, the Santa Ana River is accessible from the campground and is an excellent place to cast flies for trout.
If you plan to fish, be sure to stop in Angelus Oaks to grab a license—because fishing is so popular at the lake, there are frequent checks. There is no license requirement for kids aged 16 and younger. The limit to trout is five per day, though it seems as though most people have the best luck with largemouth bass.
There are picnic tables scattered about for use as well as well-maintained vault toilets. Be prepared to pay the general use fee of $5 in cash when you arrive. If you plan to visit during a peak weekend, be sure to arrive early—Jenks Lake is a popular day trip for Redlands locals.