Here, in the foothills of the mighty Sierra Nevada, we live in beauty.

From New Hogan Reservoir’s River of Skulls Trail, an easy one-mile loop at the west end of Calaveras County, to the majestic sequoias and massive redwoods that dwarf hikers and walkers along the trails at Calaveras Big Trees State Park east of Arnold, the natural paradise of the county offers a wealth of options for health-seekers who desire to commune with nature and get fit in the great outdoors.

There truly is a trail, walkway or road for runners, walkers and hikers at every level of fitness.

For those who prefer to stay on the beaten path, a stroll through downtown Murphys is by far one of the most popular destinations in the area. Offering window shopping, wine tasting and people watching in abundance, a walk along Main Street can be both invigorating and entertaining.

Just off Murphys’ Main Street, Algiers Street leads to popular Six Mile Road. Along its well-traveled, mostly paved rolling route, old oak trees, lush green ranch land and the smiling faces of daffodils create a stunning spring backdrop for runners, walkers and joggers as they travel past Ironstone Vineyards and wind their way west to Vallecito.

Angels Camp resident Tim Hicks is an accomplished endurance runner who has run dozens of marathons and ultra marathons over the past four decades, including the prestigious Western States 100-miler in 1980 and 2003. He takes advantage of the various courses available, including New Melones Reservoir’s Glory Hole Recreation Area with its mix of trails and paved roads, the friendly residential streets of Greenhorn Creek in Angels Camp and the Arnold Rim Trail, among others.

“Calaveras County is the only place I have lived during my 40 years of running life,” Hicks said of the numerous training sites. “It’s rural (and has) easy-to-find places with little traffic and friendly people. The weather is conducive to four-season outdoor activity and all these routes have easy parking access, are located centrally and are popular with the locals.”

While variety and access serve as a lure, challenge also plays a part in getting people out on the roads and routes that dot the county.

The Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail that runs through portions of Calaveras County along the Middle Mokelumne River and Upper Mokelumne River is a rigorous course with approximately 10,000 feet of climb. With mountain views, towering aspens and wildflowers, the nonmotorized route is a beautiful option, but can be brutal for the unprepared.

“The course is both challenging and picturesque. There are great views, tough hills and old mining relics along the way. When it is hot, it is even more fun,” said Hicks, who has raced a 50-miler along its rugged terrain.

Though Calaveras County offers an abundance of training options for serious competitors like Hicks, it is easy to find a path that accommodates the fitness levels of those just seeking to get in shape.

Twenty-two year old Nikko Reyes, a Bret Harte High School graduate in training as a body builder, incorporates walking and running into his fitness regimen. Reyes, who is currently completing certification as a personal trainer, believes the local countryside helps foster fitness.

“There are so many values of including walking, running and/or hiking into someone’s workout regimen. It improves cardio-respiratory fitness, lowers the risk of high blood pressure and helps with weight control. It can also improve muscular fitness and possibly reduce the risk of depression and stress,” said the former Bullfrog wrestler. “It is a lot easier for people to get out more and stay active with the different trails available around the foothills.”

Adding to the wide array of choices in this natural paradise we call home is the opportunity for organized hiking events.

Both Calaveras Big Trees State Park and the Arnold Rim Trail Association offer guided treks, and though the closest chapter of the Sierra Club is in Tuolumne County, regular meet ups and events hosted by the three Mother Lode chapters, the Stockton Delta-Sierra, Modesto Yokuts and Sonora Tuolumne, occur all year.

With so much inherent splendor and the good health to be pulled in from being outdoors, it is hard to say no to the myriad paths that beckon.

Carla Rolleri, an avid walker who enjoys the added advantage of living on a ranch in Angels Camp, concluded, “You can just put your shoes on, go and enjoy a different, beautiful scene every time.”


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