Superstition Mountains Backpacking

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4-12
Activity level
Starting from
$1,099 for REI Members
$1,199 for non-members
DeparturesOct 2024-Dec 2025

Backpack through one of the premier hiking destinations in the Southwest.

The Superstition Mountains boast quintessential high desert landscapes: Saguaro cacti rising from the earth, craggy wilderness and rugged peaks against a backdrop of bright blue sky. Beginning at an elevation of 2,420', we climb past the towering Miner's Needle, an imposing spire of weathered lava. Led by our expert guides, we hike over incredible volcanic terrain and relish panoramic desert views, learning about the history and geology of the area as we venture northward.

Hike through deep, narrow chasms, exploring eroded rock spires and blocky sheer-walled mesas. Venture into hidden 19th-century gold mines in the spirit of the legend of the Lost Dutchman's Gold. Explore the marvels of West Boulder Canyon, dropping our packs for a journey into the narrows of La Barge Box. Ascend the Boulder Canyon trail, which leads us out the eastern ridge of the canyon before cresting and descending back to Canyon Lake. We return home inspired by mountain folklore and fueled by adventure.

We backpack 4–6 miles each day, surrounded by incredible panoramas all along our route.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the Superstition Mountains on a multiday backpacking trip
  • Hike through beautiful terrain filled with bright cacti and towering mesas
  • Learn or expand upon backpacking skills while staying at lovely campsites


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 4 and 8 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 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.

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.

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

Day 2

Hike to breathtaking panoramas of the Superstition Mountains desert landscape

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 unusual presence has inspired legends galore. In the late afternoon we arrive at our first campsite, where the presence of 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 the marvels of Le Barge Box and West Boulder Canyon

After breaking camp, we will continue through Marsh Valley and on to West Boulder Canyon. Our guides will provide a wide variety of side adventures and detours throughout today's hike. Drop your pack and venture into the narrows of La Barge Box. West Boulder Canyon will serve as 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 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.

We provide

  • 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.