Hop Lightly

Calaveras is full of beautiful, natural environments which you can help protect through our Hop Lightly awareness program that incorporates Leave No Trace principles.
The Steller's Jay | Barry Boulton

Steller’s Jay | Barry Boulton

Help Calaveras stay beautiful following our Hop Lightly and Leave No Trace principles that sustain these wild environments for your next visit, for future generations and for the wild animals that call these places home.

If you’re new to wild environments, you might not realize how easy it is for humans to damage these places by dropping our litter and being careless about how we explore. 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!


Practicing sustainability allows us to enjoy our natural environment by taking care not to leave traces of our visit. This will help to keep the wilderrness beautiful and the wildlife wild and healthy.

Running New Melones trails in the fall | Jason Smith

Running New Melones trails in the fall | Jason Smith

Hop Lightly Tips for Lakes, Parks and Trails

  • 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.
  • 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 and insects and animal habitats.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Hop Lightly: Winter camping | Jason B Smith

Winter Wilderness Camping | Jason B Smith

Hop Lightly Tips for Wilderness

  • 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 plastic bag to pack our your waste.
    • Always have a knife as part of your kit.
    • Look out for rattlesnakes and poison oak. Check yourself for ticks.
    • Bear-proof your campsite
  • 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: www.LNT.org. Here are some our favorite blogs that they’ve published:
Hop Lightly: Arnold Rim Trail | Lisa Boulton

Arnold Rim Trail

If you have a medical problem or emergency here in Calaveras, please visit one of our local medical facilities.

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