The Steller's Jay | Barry Boulton
Steller’s Jay | Barry Boulton

We want you to have the best experience possible in exploring Calaveras County’s varied wild environments, which is why we created this tourism sustainability program. If you love playing in wild and rural environments, you can help Calaveras stay beautiful following our Hop Lightly and Leave No Trace principles that sustain these wild environments for your next visit, future generations, current residents, and for the wild plants and animals that call these places home.

If you’re new to wild environments, you might not realize how easy it is for humans to unintentionally damage these places by ignoring important signage, dropping litter or being careless about how to explore safely in general.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to keep the environment beautiful and yet it makes a huge difference if we all do our part. When you join in, you can feel good about making sure wild animals and birds still have their home and won’t be harmed by your visit. In Calaveras, we like to Hop Lightly!

As mentioned earlier, we want you to have the best experience possible in exploring Calaveras County’s varied wild environments for years to come. Asking you to stay environmentally conscious and careful when you visit to help protect the natural environment is the first phase of this program. Phase Two will include information on sustainability practices being utilized by our local businesses. Scroll down for tips on how to practice tourism sustainability when you visit Calaveras.


Practicing environmental sustainability allows us to enjoy our natural environment by taking care not to leave traces of our visit. This will help to keep the wilderness beautiful, allow us to share these magnificent resources for years to come and keep the plants and wildlife wild and healthy. Read on to see how to minimize your environmental impact, and click here to get some tourism sustainability merch.

Running New Melones trails in the fall | Jason Smith
Running New Melones trails in the fall | Jason Smith

Hop Lightly Tips for Lakes, Parks, Trails and Tourism Sustainbility

  • Know the rules about whether your pets are allowed and whether they should stay on leash. If in doubt, check the listings for each hike / park / lake on this website.
  • Do not urinate in lakes or rivers… with the number of people recreating on and in our lakes and rivers, human waste can have a significantly negative impact. Use the provided restrooms or portable toilets.
  • Use a small backpack or bag so you can pack out any trash you bring in. Make sure to include apple cores, orange peels or any other fruit or nut pieces that you bring in.
  • Wear sunscreen. Even on cloudy days, UV rays will give you sunburn.
  • Bring water & snacks. Staying hydrated on trail is extremely important regardless of the weather or time of year. Make sure you pack out your trash and only use designated trash/recycling cans if available.
  • Wear sturdy hiking boots so you can maintain good traction when the trail is rocky or has loose soil, and to protect your feet from dangerous critters.
  • Check yourself and your dog(s) for ticks – which we are finding at higher elevations than in the past.
  • Stay on the middle of the trail. Walking on the edges will widen the trails over time, and straying off trail can damage sensitive plants, insects and animal habitats. Additionally, sticking to clearly marked public trails helps visitors respect private property that may not always be delineated by clear visual boundaries such as “No Trespassing” signs.
  • Pick up any trash you find if you have room in your pack.
  • Don’t try to feed or make friends with the wildlife and keep your distance. Seeing wildlife is always exciting, but remember that we are visitors in their habitat and we want them to remain wild and healthy. This goes for grazing and farm animals too. Your treats may damage their health so please keep your enjoyment to viewing only.
  • Leave the nature where you found it, as you found it. If you want to take a good look, bring binoculars or a pocket microscope, but don’t take anything with you.
  • Use any restrooms at the entrance and exit to trails – try not to pollute the trails themselves, especially if they are near water sources.
  • Keep an ear open for wildlife. Listen for wild birdsong, rustling in the undergrowth and footsteps. This is part of the fun of visiting the natural environment… if we’re too loud, we miss it all, scare off wildlife and damage other visitors’ experiences.
  • Top quality outdoor sports gear can be purchased here in Calaveras County at SNAC (Sierra Nevada Adventure Company) in their Murphys and Arnold stores, Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp, and Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods and The Trout Spot in Arnold.
  • Educate yourself about how to behave if you are one of the lucky few to encounter a bear. Being prepared for the possibility means you’ll be able to enjoy your trail time without worrying.
Hop Lightly: Winter camping | Jason B Smith
Winter Wilderness Camping | Jason B Smith

Hop Lightly Tips for Wilderness and Tourism Sustainability

  • Be prepared for the environment you’re exploring. Know what’s allowed and follow good safety protocols, making sure you have appropriate equipment. Check out the US Forest Service’s Know Before You Go page for their recommendations on how to prepare for your wilderness trip. Here’s a partial list of safety recommendations:
    • Before you leave for your wilderness experience, let friends/family know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
    • Bring water, a water container & water purification supplies.
    • Dress in layers for unexpected weather changes – bring head covering, jacket and gloves even in warm weather.
    • First aid is a must. Include sunscreen, insect repellent and blister protection.
    • Make sure your matches are in a waterproof container.
    • You cannot rely on internet connection in the wilderness, so bring a compass and map as well as your GPS
    • Bring extra energy food & snacks beyond what you expect to need.
    • Include spare batteries with your flashlight or headlamp.
    • Check your camping equipment before you leave to make sure everything you need is where it belongs.
    • Bring your cellphone, a mirror for signaling and a whistle (3 blasts means “help”).
    • Bring a biodegradable bag to pack your your waste.
    • Always have a knife as part of your kit.
    • Look out for rattlesnakes and poison oak. Check yourself for ticks, even in the higher elevations.
    • If you’re a serious backcountry hiker, consider purchasing a bear canister.
    • Bear-proof your campsite and learn how to behave if you encounter a bear.
  • Stay on the trail.
  • Campfire permits are required except when camping in a developed campground.
  • Choose a site for your camping area that doesn’t have to be physically modified, at least 100 feet from any water sources.
  • Bury any human waste at least 6-inches deep at least 200 feet from any trail / camping area. Pack out your toilet paper and toiletries. Be sure to pee far from any water sources. DO NOT PEE in lakes or rivers.
  • You can find lots more great information on the official Leave No Trace website. including their Leave No Trace Seven Principles ©1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: Here are some of our favorite blogs they’ve published:
Hop Lightly Tourism Sustainability: Arnold Rim Trail | Lisa Boulton
Arnold Rim Trail – Hop Lightly for Tourism Sustainability

Hop Lightly Hydration Stations

We’re hoping to reduce the amount of plastic used in your exploration of the Calaveras environment by selling reusable, stainless steel Hop Lightly, Hydrate bottles, which get you a free water fill up with purchase at the Calaveras Visitors Center.

Hop Lightly hydrate
Hop Lightly Hydrate bottle

Bring your Hop Lightly bottle or other refillable water bottle to the following Hydration Station locations for a free tap water fill up and help us keep single-use plastic bottles off our trails and out of our parks.

Hop Lightly: Pack-It-Out Biodegradable Bags

To help you Hop Lightly by packing out your trash, we are now giving away Hop Lightly, Pack It Out biodegradable bags at the Calaveras Visitors Center to visitors intending to explore our parks and wild environments. Free bags are also provided when you check in to Bear Valley Glamping.

Cal-Waste has provided trash and recycling bins to the Calaveras Visitors Center located on our back deck, where these bags and their contents can be deposited after use. If you’re sorting your trash, ask for two biodegradable bags at the Visitors Center and return your trash to the black can and recyclables to the blue can.

If you know a local business that would be interested in helping to reduce single-use plastic waste in Calaveras, here are some resources: single-use plastic straw alternatives | branded product alternatives to single use plastics

We hope you join us in our Hop Lightly campaign to help keep tourism environmentally sustainable in Calaveras County and we look forward to expanding the program and adding to our innovations.

Hop Lightly Pack It Out biodegradable bag
Hop Lightly Pack It Out biodegradable bag