"Nobody wants to stumble upon a surprise package" – Yosemite officials expose a messy problem on the trails

Roll of toilet paper on a tree branch
A new Instagram post reveals the extent of this messy behavior (Image credit: Getty)

When you're spending days out on the trail in your hiking boots, at some point, nature's going to come calling. When it does, officials at Yosemite National Park are begging you to stop leaving your used toilet paper behind.

In a new post on Instagram, which you can view below, park officials shared the extent of this messy problem with a photo of beautiful Rancheria Falls near Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The foreground of the picture is blighted with toilet paper strewn all over the ground, including, inexplicably, a full roll.

"Picture this: Yosemite's majestic wilderness, stunning vistas, and... surprise! Used toilet paper waving hello," write park officials, adding that this is a sight that's become "all too familiar" in the world-famous park.

How to poop in the woods

The disgusting scene has prompted the park to remind all visitors of the basics of going to the bathroom in the woods without turning the wild into a smelly public toilet, which can be a health hazard for other users and wildlife.

"If you bring toilet paper out on your trips, please pack it out too. You can bring a sealable plastic baggie to stash it in, and even cover the bag in tape so you don't have to look at it. Because really, nobody wants to stumble upon a surprise package left behind by an anonymous outdoor enthusiast."

Burying toilet paper might make it look as though you have followed the principles of Leave No Trace, but in fact it's just delaying the problem. 

"It's easily exposed by weather and erosion, and animals can dig it up and disperse it long before it decomposes (which can take 1-3 years, depending on conditions). Some animals may even use it for nesting material."

If you're going to Yosemite to enjoy beautiful nature, the last thing you want to see is a cute meadow mouse or a warbler building a home out of dirty toilet paper.

If you're heading out on a long hike, please read our article on how to poop in the woods before you go to ensure you keep the outdoors clean and safe for all.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.