Is It Illegal To Poop In The Woods?

Is It Illegal To Poop In The Woods

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If there’s one thing that’s really a bummer in the great outdoors, it’s taking a dump.

While you might think you can just go and let go of the “stuff” in any convenient location, turns out it’s not as simple as it seems. Human feces can take months to degrade naturally, and in some areas, you might have to face hefty fines for pooping in the open.

So, what’s the best way to go about answering nature’s calling amid nature? That’s what we’re going to discuss today.

Is It Illegal To Poop In The Woods?

It might seem common sense to poop behind a convenient bush when in the woods, but we recommend you don’t. Several outdoor locations, such as Mount Denali in Alaska and Colorado’s Conundrum Hot Springs, require vacationers to carry their poop.

With millions of backpackers and hikers roaming out in the wild at any given point in time, you must take care to dispose of your waste responsibly. After all, you wouldn’t want to step into someone’s smelly leftovers while enjoying the backcountry, would you?

The best way to go about it is to research the location you’re about to visit and find out about the rules and regulations for responsible pooping. This way, you not only do your bit to protect nature but also avoid legal charges.

Why Responsible Pooping Matters?

Apart from the fact that pooping out in the woods might get you in legal trouble, there’s also the matter of environmental ethics to consider. Improper human waste disposal is a severe problem that can have far-reaching consequences. 

For one, pooping near water bodies can lead to polluted lakes and rivers. As a result, human pathogens can be introduced into these water sources. This, in turn, can be harmful to the animals that drink from these sources.

Another problem that arises out of irresponsible pooping is unburied toilet paper. Especially during the summertime, when wildlands get the maximum number of visitors, toilet paper wafting about is a serious eyesore.

Finally, finding someone’s poop near your campground is just plain gross. After all, you’re looking for a bit of peace and purity when hiking in the woods or camping. So, stepping into someone’s turd is undoubtedly not the best way to experience the wilderness.

Due to the above reasons, responsible pooping has become a matter of concern for the authorities responsible for maintaining the outdoors. Many locations have even started distributing WAG bags to visitors to encourage them towards responsible pooping.

Safe Method For Pooping In The Woods

Now that you know why it’s not always legal to poop in the woods and why you should go about it responsibly, here’s the “How” part of the task. For safely pooping in the woods, here’s a simple stepwise process that you can follow.

Stay Away From Water Bodies

Before squatting down and taking a dump, make sure that you’re at a distance of at least 200 feet from any water body. This way, you can ensure that none of your fecal material will make it into the water and cause pollution. Also, take care to stay away from hiking trails.

Find A Suitable Spot

Next, find a suitable spot; it’s best to look for a raised location with a tree or boulder that you can hold onto for support. Also, try to pick a sunny spot, as this will help with the decomposition process.

Dig A Cat Hole

After you’ve found the ideal spot, dig a hole in the ground with a camping trowel. Make sure that the cat hole is at least 6 inches in depth. For diameter, it’s best to go with 4-6 inches, just to be on the safe side.

Scoop It Up

After you’re done, you’ll need to use a trowel for scooping up the fecal matter. We recommend carrying several zip-lock bags for this purpose. If you’re a regular, you can also use a sturdy box or container for the purpose.

Cover The Hole

Finally, if you’re not required to scoop the poop, then cover the cat hole with rocks, twigs and fill in the soil you scooped up while digging the hole earlier. This ensures that no animals will be able to get into your poop and fall sick.


While pooping in the woods might not be illegal everywhere, it’s best to respect nature and poop responsibly when out in the open. This way, we’re not only helping to do our bit to preserve nature but are also ensuring the safety and health of wild animals.

Just make sure that you’re aware of the regulations in the location you’re visiting. Also, don’t forget to pack in the required supplies needed for pooping out in the wild. And yes, do look out for creepy crawlies and poison ivy! 

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Matt Scofield
Matt Scofield

Hi! I’m Matt, an adventure freak who lives and breathes the great outdoors. Spending time under the open sky always appealed to me, even as a kid. Perhaps that’s why I liked camping with my dad so much. The days spent hiking and the nights around the campfire are times I’ll cherish forever.

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