The Scoop on Burying Your Poop

Summertime is upon us. This means that thousands of people are going to be enjoying the Siskiyou backcountry at any given time over the next few months. It’s essential that we all learn and use safe methods for spending time in nature. This blog will dive into the proper way to responsibly poop in the woods when nature calls.

According to Leave No Trace, proper disposal of human waste avoids pollution of water sources, minimizes the possibility of spreading disease, and maximizes the rate of decomposition. Plus, it’s just plain gross to be hiking and see human feces and used TP strewn around the trail or near camp.

Whether you’ve never had to poop outside before or you want to brush up on your skills, we will go over the best distance, depth, and methods to bury human waste and Leave No Trace.

Step 1: Pick the Perfect Spot

When bathroom facilities are closed or and there are no restrooms nearby, we must truly become one with nature. Select an inconspicuous location at least 200 feet or about 70 steps from the nearest trail, campsite, or water source, including streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Select a spot less traveled, near thick undergrowth, downed timber or on a hillside. The best sites have deep organic soil with a dark rich color and good exposure to sunlight to aid in decomposition. Avoid areas with water runoff, particularly above water sources, which might erode your cathole and carry your waste into the local water supply. Don’t continue to use the same location over and over. As Leave No Trace states: “don’t go to the same place twice.”

Step 2: Cathole Burial

Once you have selected your ideal place to do a number two, digging a cathole and burying your waste      is a great way to dispose of poop properly in the great outdoors. The pros of catholes are that they’re easy to dig in most areas, help disperse the poo rather than concentrate it in one area, and they hide your waste so that no one else needs to encounter it. Carrying a trowel (or even a snow stake) to dig a good cathole, but in a pinch a stick or even your heel will work. Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. You are ready to go!

Step 3: Assume the Position

You can either squat unassisted, rig up a strap or rope around a tree to hang onto or even lean using a tree or stump for balance for this step. Either way you prefer, consider your position when selecting your cathole location. Pulling your pants down to your ankles will help with balance and will aid in control.

Step 4: Almost Buttoned Up

Once you are finished, fill the hole with the dirt you dug out and disguise it with a handful of rocks, leaves or other dead vegetation. A large rock may make it take longer for your waste to break down so it is not the best choice. Pack out your toilet paper whenever possible. Simply fold your used toilet paper, place it in a separate Ziplock bag or poop bag and carry it out as trash.

Extra Pro Tips:

Some areas of higher elevation, where climate can hinder the decomposition of waste, require that you pack out your poop altogether so having WAG Bags in your pack is a good idea. WAG Bags contain chemical crystals that gel human waste and render it inert, allowing you to properly dispose of it in a garbage can. Wet wipes, tampons, and all other hygiene products should always be packed out with you and disposed of when you return home. Lastly, don’t ever burn your toilet paper; you’d be surprised how easy it is to start a wildfire.

That’s it, you have now responsibly pooped in the woods. Check out these links for more related info:

Leave No Trace Leave No Trace – Home – Leave No Trace (

How to Poop Outside – Leave No Trace (

What To Do – Discover Siskiyou


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