Upcoming Trips (Spring 2019)

Program Description

Beginning in elementary school, girls are taught to be quiet, behave, and work hard. We are praised for being perfect and simultaneously conditioned to avoid risks and mistakes. However, risk-taking and failure are essential for building confidence. Repeatedly in studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, while women underestimate both. The confidence gap is clear.

Alta Trails seeks to create a fun and safe space for girls to be adventurous. On our trips, the girls are responsible for cooking meals, setting up tents, filtering water, carrying group gear, and all the other camp necessities. In the woods, there are no hourly schedules, so we can take the time to teach rather than to do for them. The girls are encourage to take risks and try new things, and we practice “Challenge By Choice” so that nobody is forced beyond their individual limits.

Each group consists of 8 participants and 2 leaders. We cap the group size at 10 women total to comply with the local backcountry permit requirements. At least one staffer is certified in Wilderness First-Aid and all are certified in CPR/AED/First-Aid for youth and adults. Our staffers are compassionate, kind, responsible, and quite goofy.

Each trip departs from the home base site (in either Arlington, Richmond, or Durham) on Friday afternoons. Before the vans depart, the staff goes through each pack to ensure that all participants have the essentials and not too many unessential items. Don’t worry if you forget something at home because we have extras of everything! We then drive to the trailhead, hike a tiny bit to our first campsite, cook dinner, set up camp, and hangout.

In addition to learning backpacking skills, Alta Trails trips also incorporate a few semi-structured reflection sessions throughout the weekend. These take many forms: journaling, conversation, silent hiking, yoga, storytelling around a campfire, etc. The goal is that not only will girls take risks exploring nature, but they’ll also spend a little time exploring their own thoughts and beliefs.

On Saturday, we hike at a leisurely pace, enjoy cool spots along the trail, and arrive to camp with enough time to rest or hangout until dinner. Then the girls cook dinner again, weather-permitting we gather around a campfire, then head to sleep once again. Sunday, we pack up, hike out, and depending on timing….there may be some warm pizzas waiting for us at the end. 🙂

TO REGISTER: Click on any of the Upcoming Trips icons above.

Typical Weekend Schedule:

Day 1: Friday

3:00PM – Gather in Arlington, Richmond or Durham to distribute gear and pack.

4:00PM – Drive to trail head.

5:30PM – Hike short distance to first campsite. Set up camp.

7:00PM – Eat dinner. First Trail Talk session.

9:00PM – Feeling check. Bed.

Day 2: Saturday

7:30AM – Wake up. Pack up camp. Eat breakfast.

9:30AM – Hike, take breaks, enjoy views, sing songs, play games

12:30PM – Eat lunch. Second TrailTalk session.

1:30PM – Hike some more.

4:30PM – Arrive to second campsite. Set up camp. Snacks.

5:30PM – Free Time/Yoga/Meditation/Relax/Rest period.

6:30PM – Camp chores. Eat dinner. Campfire.

8:00PM – Final Trail Talk session

9:00PM – Feeling check. Star-gazing. Bed.

Day 3: Sunday

7:00AM – Wake up. Pack up camp. Eat breakfast.

8:30AM – Hike few miles to car.

11:00AM – Drive back to Arlington, Richmond, or Durham.

12:30PM – Eat lunch. Unpack. Wash group gear.

2:00PM – Depart in peace.


Who can come on trips? Anyone who identifies as a woman and wants to try backpacking should talk to us about coming on a trip! We are able to accommodate most individual needs, and we are happy to discuss whether or not an Alta Trails trip is right for you. Our youth trips welcome girls ages 10 and up, and our adult trips are for women 18 and up. 

Do I need to purchase gear? Nope! We can lend you all the necessary backpacking gear for the weekend with no additional fee. Just let us know what you’d like to borrow, and we’ll have it ready for you.

I am not “athletic”/”in-shape”/”active”…will I be able to handle the hiking? Absolutely! While some of our Advanced trips cover higher mileage, our regular trips are designed to introduce women to backpacking. Our goal is to be present in nature and with each other, not to hike until we’re exhausted. If you can walk on uneven terrain and carry a medium-weight backpack (~30lbs), then you will be just fine! If you’re worried about your specific abilities, text/email Emma for more details.

What about my dietary needs? With prior notice, we are happy to accommodate most dietary restrictions, including allergies. 

Is backpacking safe for women? Short answer: YES! Longer answer: Read my blog post

Who can I contact with my additional questions? Our fearless leader – Emma Wright! The best way to contact her is via email (altatrails@gmail.com) or to text/call her at (919) 694-1636 (pro tip: text is often the best since she spends a lot of time in the woods without great cell service).