Off the Rim- Burro Hikes and Backpacking into Copper Canyon

For these burro supported hikes or backpacking trips, we link with Mike and Cathy of Copper Canyon Trails.


Copper Canyon Trails specializes in “off the rim” backpacking into the Barranca del Cobre. We take small groups from the canyon rim at the Divisadero and Posada Barrancas train stops all the way to the Urique River. After hours of sitting during the spectacular Chihuahua al Pacifico train ride from Los Mochis, hiking a vertical mile to the river is the best way to get the blood flowing again.

We offer fully supported burro-assisted treks with a tried-and-true Mexican crew, or individualized self-supported backpacking hikes. Our burro treks give the visitor the opportunity to enjoy a multi-day canyon experience carrying little more than a daypack. We carry roomy expedition tents, and have tasty Mexican meals prepared by hand over an open fire. These 5 day (4 night) treks give our guests a level of deserved comfort after some tough hiking during the days. Highlights of your experience include hot springs, mining ruins, and a Tarahumaran Indian village.

Our backpacks require a little more effort. You will need to carry all your own gear and a portion of the food. Expect to carry a 45 pound (20 kg) pack, and expect to get wet. We offer three, four or five night options following the Urique River downstream. A 5 or 6 night option will allow a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike.

Here is a sample itinerary: Day 1: Meet at train stop. Posada Barancas and Divisadero are on the canyon rim, and only 4km apart. Accommodations at a friendly local guest house.

Day 2: Breakfast. Load burros and begin 5000 foot descent to the river carrying only your daypack. Tent camping. (descend 5000ft, 7 miles, 8 hrs)

Day 3: Big (optional) dayhike up and over to the adjacent canyon passing a Tarahumaran settlement, with lunch and relaxation at a natural Hot Spring. (ascend 2000ft, 7 miles, 9 hrs, 3 river crossings at end of day)

Day 4: Easy dayhike upriver to a small pool fed by a warm spring. We’ll be back in camp for lunch. (rocky walking along river, 3 river crossings, 2 miles, 2 hrs)

Day 5: Break camp and ascend 3000ft to a Tarahumaran village. Interaction with the artisans as they make crafts. (ascend 3000ft, 3 miles, 4-5 hrs)

Day 6: Ascend to the canyon rim.

Who we are: Cathy Waterman started guiding in Copper Canyon in 2001. It took years of hard miles in the Sierras of California, and the slickrock country of the 4 corners to prepare her for the physical demands of such a challenge. Decades of study and a passion for the Spanish language never prepared her to be so accepted by the mestizo and Tarahumaran people of the Sierra Madre. This unique combination allows our visitors to experience the region at a deeper level.

Michael Huckaby first saw the vast network of canyons in the early 90’s. With the locally availabel topo maps and a compass he started hiking numerous trails before finding the right routes used by the locals. Now Copper Canyon Trails keeps visitors off the goats trails, and on the camino real.
We are qualified as Wilderness First Responder by Remote Medical.

Contact us at for more information or to sign-up.

Copper Canyon Trails
1334 West Pennington Street
Tucson, AZ 85745
Phone: 520-324-0209


Cathy and Mike