With this winter’s seemingly endless snowfall, Tahoe’s sled hills have been packed with families every weekend. After a day of fun, these locations can become blanketed in broken plastic sleds and other discarded trash, creating an excess of waste on the hills and a hazard to other sledders. Take Care Tahoe and its partner organizations have set up sled corrals to help manage this issue at five of the most popular sites for sledding in the Tahoe region. 

“Cheap plastic sleds lead to an enormous amount of trash because they break easily and are difficult to clean up,” explained Marilee Movius, Senior Community Engagement Manager, League to Save Lake Tahoe. “Not only are the sharp shards of plastic sleds dangerous for other sledders, they begin to break down into microplastics that will eventually end up in the lake.”

Take Care Tahoe encourages all users to practice Slediquette – this means properly disposing of broken sleds in designated sled corrals, or using dumpsters, sealed trash cans or simply taking trash home with them if other disposal options aren’t available. Each sled corral is a small, fenced off area made for collecting broken pieces of sleds. These corrals are located at Spooner Summit, Van Sickle Bi-State Park at Stateline, Fallen Leaf Lake Road and Ski Run Boulevard in South Lake, and Truckee. Take Care Tahoe Volunteers, including members of the League’s Tahoe Blue Crews, work throughout the winter to remove sleds and other trash from these areas.

On Saturday, March 25 from 9am – 2pm, community members and visitors are invited to showcase their Slediquette by taking part in a cleanup event at the Spooner Summit sled hill. More information and a link to register can be found at keeptahoeblue.org/events.

Collecting the trash from broken sleds in one, centralized place makes it easier to clean up, but it doesn’t solve the problem of producing more trash in the first place. The most environmentally friendly option is to buy a more durable sled, ideally made out of wood or metal that will last for multiple seasons. Local Raley’s stores in Tahoe provide more durable options. 

“Raley’s is proud to partner with Tahoe Fund and Take Care to reduce the trash that comes from plastic sleds. Keeping Tahoe clean and safe is our priority. In stores, we expanded our offerings to include more durable, eco-friendly and long-lasting sleds. This is both better for the environment and a better investment for our customers,” said Chelsea Minor, Raley’s Executive Director, Community Impact & Public Affairs. 

In addition to bringing home everything you bring on your outdoor adventure, as another element of practicing good Slediquette, recreators are strongly encouraged to choose official sledding hills instead of pulling off the side of the road to find their small hill fun. At official sledding hills, vendors offer sled rentals, parking and restrooms, and are required to keep their hills litter-free. At unofficial hills, the combination of unmanaged, off-highway parking and nearby traffic can put sledders in danger.

Sledding is one of the highlights of the winter season in Tahoe. It is an activity that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age, skill level, or previous experience in the snow. However, it is important that everyone does their part to clean up after themselves to help protect the natural environment and keep our sled hills safe and trash-free.

For more information about practicing Slediquette, where to rent or buy metal and wooden sleds, and the locations of managed sledding hills around Lake Tahoe, visit takecaretahoe.org/sleds.