Superstition Mountains Women's Backpacking

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4-12
Activity level
Starting from
$1,099 for REI Members
$1,199 for non-members
DeparturesDec 2023-Dec 2024

Fall in love with backpacking and the Superstition Mountains on a backcountry adventure in the high desert.

This trip is for women who want to see the Sonoran Desert and learn more about backpacking. Led by expert female guides, we hike into the Superstitions, a sublime volcanic landscape of mesas, canyons, wildflowers, Gila monsters and saguaro cactus, set against bluebird sky. In the distance, a rocky spire called Weaver’s Needle reminds us this is a place of legend. (The Lost Dutchman gold mine is said to lie in the spire’s shadow.) By the time the moon rises on the first night, you understand the desert has a beauty all its own.

Each day, we backpack far enough to feel accomplished but not exhausted. The desert is our classroom: Our guides teach us about wilderness backpacking and accent the never-ending vistas with stories and facts about the area’s history, mythology, geology and wildlife. They also fuel us with hot, delicious meals. We sleep deeply under a blanket of stars. We return home exhilarated by the spirit of the Superstitions.

Hike across seasonal streams that nourish the desert landscape.

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy a multiday backpacking trip in the spectacular Superstition Mountains
  • Hike through desert landscapes filled with Saguaro cactus and dramatic vistas
  • Learn wilderness camping basics from our expert female guides
  • Get gear tips and enhance your backcountry cooking skills
  • REI Women’s Adventure—designed for women, guided by women


This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3-4]. Participants should have experience hiking and be comfortable navigating difficult terrain such as loose rock, sandy soil, and steep slopes, while wearing a heavy pack. Trip Members will be carrying their own backpack weighing 35 to 40 pounds between 5 and 7 miles a day,with elevation gains and losses of up to 1,300 feet, for multiple days in succession. Hiking in the Superstition Mountains is exposed with limited shade in dry conditions. While daytime temperatures are typically comfortable, they can rise to over 90 degrees. The tough terrain combined with the heat/exposure make this a challenging backpacking trip for both novice and experienced backpackers.

To maximize your enjoyment of the trip, we suggest a regular training regimen at least 2-3 months prior to departure, that ideally includes some training hikes with a weighted pack. Most important to your enjoyment of the trip is your overall fitness level.

  • Backpacking

What's Included

Meals as indicated on the daily itinerary. Professional guide services. Transportation to/from our host hotel and trailheads. See this trip’s Gear List for details regarding any equipment that may be provided for your use during the trip. Trip operations are conducted under a Tonto National Forest Special Use Permit.


Backcountry camping, 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Superstition Mountains Women's Backpacking
Day 1

Meet at the local REI store for a trip orientation and group dinner

An orientation will be held at the local REI store this evening followed by a group dinner. You may walk or transfer to the store on your own. It's important that you bring your loaded pack to the orientation with you as the guides hold a gear check, distribute group gear (10 to 15 pounds per person comprised of tents, cooking equipment, and food), and talk about efficient packing and preparation tips. Our guides also provide tips about proper pack fitting for the female physique, and discuss various other gear necessities with women’s considerations in mind.

The pre-trip orientation will give you a chance to meet fellow travelers and provide your guides an opportunity to walk through the trip itinerary. This is also a good chance to pick up some last minute items. Over dinner we get to know each other in eager anticipation of our adventure. Picnic style dinner included.

Important Note: Tonight's lodging is not included in your trip cost. Hotel recommendations will be provided in your Pre-Departure Information after signup.

Day 2

Backpack through high desert landscapes and learn wilderness camping skills

After breakfast, we meet in the hotel lobby to begin our backpacking adventure. We'll leave our cars at the hotel and shuttle to our starting point on the southern side of the Superstitions Mountain Range. Beginning at an elevation of 2,420', in a sea of Saguaro cactus, we climb past the imposing Miner's Needle. Today's traverse continues through incredible volcanic geology to bring us past panoramic views dominated by the towering Weaver's Needle, an enormous volcanic plug whose presence has inspired legends galore. In the late afternoon we arrive at our first campsite, where ancient cottonwood and sycamore trees stand in stark contrast to the surrounding desert. Before dinner, our guides provide a primer on wilderness camping that covers such subjects as proper tent set-up in all conditions, sleeping comfort, fire building and backcountry bathroom etiquette. Breakfast on your own. Lunch and dinner included.

Backpacking: 7.5-8.0 miles +1,260' / -1,285', Transfer time: 1 hour

Day 3

Explore West Boulder Canyon and enjoy a primer in backcountry cooking

After breaking camp, we continue through Marsh Valley and on to West Boulder Canyon. Our guides offer a variety of side adventures and detours throughout today's hike. Drop your pack and venture into the narrows of La Barge Box. Before dinner tonight, our guides discuss a variety of backcountry cooking tips and techniques including stove and fuel choices, lightweight ingredient options, caloric goals, basic recipes and backpacking drink options. West Boulder Canyon serves as our home for the night. All meals included.

Backpacking: 5.93 miles +392' / -930'

Day 4

Traverse the Boulder Canyon trail, with views of Weaver's Needle

We ascend the Boulder Canyon trail, which leads us out the eastern ridge of the canyon before cresting and descending back to Canyon Lake. The views are expansive and Weaver's Needle dominates the landscape. This imposing spire of weathered lava, named after famed frontier scout Pauline Weaver, has challenged the imagination for more than a century. Most versions of the legend of the Lost Dutchman gold mine claim that the lost mine lies somewhere under the Needle's shadow. After we are picked up at the trail's end in Canyon Lake Marina, your guides will prepare a delicious picnic lunch before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.

Backpacking: 3.83 miles +955' / -1,213', Transfer time: 1.5 hours

Itinerary map for Superstition Mountains Women's Backpacking

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.

Already booked this trip? Sign into your online traveler profile for a more detailed list of what you'll need.

REI members can shop for gently used gear online or at most REI stores. Members can also trade in pre-loved used gear online or at any REI store in exchange for REI gift card credit. Check out Re/Supply at REI to learn more.

Provided by REI

  • All Group Cooking Gear
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Stoves and Fuel
  • Tent(s)
  • Trekking Poles
  • Water Filter

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.