Wilderness & Adventure Therapy

About Trails Carolina

A Leader In Wilderness & Adventure Therapy For Youth

Back in 2008, Graham Shannonhouse founded Trails Carolina with the intention of providing real help for struggling kids and teens and their families.

Our Story: When we started, we were pioneers in a different way of doing wilderness therapy — a way that prioritizes family involvement to strengthen positive relationships, a unique transitions model proven to promote lasting change, and an evidence-based, trauma-informed therapeutic process.

Fast-forward to today, the kind of wilderness and adventure therapy program that we do is a widely effective and accepted alternative to traditional therapy. Our data-based outcomes and anecdotal testimonials help us to continually improve and evolve our program for the benefit of the students and families we serve.


Our Mission: At Trails Carolina, we strive to give your child the confidence, coping mechanisms, and communication skills that will help them build resilience, self esteem, and a more constructive mindset. We continue to deliver on our promise: that wilderness therapy combined with clinical excellence produces lasting, positive change for students and their families. 

Our program is based on three foundational beliefs that guide everything we do:


Wilderness Therapy

We believe that a wilderness setting enhances the benefits of therapy.


Lasting Change

We believe that practicing and applying the lessons learned in the wilderness to everyday situations promotes lasting change.


Family Involvement

We believe that families benefit from being involved in their child's process.

Family Education & Growth

A Comprehensive Wilderness Therapy Program Combined With Residential Programming, Base Camp And Accredited Academics

Building Resilience Through Wilderness Therapy

Our programming is designed around transitions and healing the entire family. We want your child to practice their newfound skills in a variety of challenging environments, building resilience that will allow them to easily carry these positive behaviors into the real world. At the same time, it’s important that you as a parent are empowered with new approaches to support your child’s success.

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Repairing Family Relationships

Our dedication to family involvement isn’t just a statement. We have a comprehensive family program including a dedicated family coach who helps guide parents and siblings through the healing process.


Education Beyond Academics

Unlike other programs, we don’t make you choose between outdoor coursework and accredited academics in a traditional classroom setting. Students experience multiple academic environments during their time at Trails.

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Proven To Produce Positive Results

In a eight-year independent study of families & students, Trails Carolina was proven to have a measurable and lasting positive impact on student behavior, emotional well being and family dynamics.

How We Do What We Do: Incorporating Adventure Activities With Experiential Therapy & Family Involvement

Guided by these beliefs, we’ve developed a multi-dimensional adventure therapy program like no other. We utilize challenging adventure experiences – these include hiking, camping, bow drilling to start a campfire, and other outdoor activities that incorporate adventure –, evidence-based clinical excellence, rigorous accredited academics, and a family-oriented approach to mental health treatment that gets results.

Trails Carolina, Lake Toxaway and Hendersonville locations, North Carolina, September 1, 2016.

In addition to the experiential learning that your child will experience while partaking in wilderness adventure activities, as well as the self-learning they will undergo during individual and group therapy sessions, our accredited academic programming will keep your child on track and more prepared to return to school than children who attend many other residential programs. At Trails, our students receive comprehensive, experiential education that allows them to learn about themselves, their role in the family system, the environment, as well as traditional school subjects such as reading, writing, and math.

One key element for lasting, positive change to occur and an effective transition into the home environment is having a family that is ready to heal and has the skills to reinforce the positive lessons developed by the student at Trails. With this in mind, our dedicated family therapists work closely with families to parallel the student’s Trails experience. We work together to address the behaviors and/or mental health challenges your child is struggling with, empower you as a parent, and help everyone within the family to communicate more effectively and diffuse conflicts rather than escalate.

Why It Works: Real World Opportunities Create Better Outcomes

Our programs are different than other wilderness and adventure based therapy because we intentionally add transitions. In addition to working with the family to prepare for the transition home in a parallel program, our students get multiple structured opportunities to practice transitions.

Wilderness & Adventure Therapy

We strategically introduce changes in setting and circumstance so our students can practice the healthy coping skills that they’ve learned during individual and group therapy sessions across a variety of environments: wilderness expeditions and adventure activities such as hiking and camping, equine therapy, group work, and the classroom.

Practicing these transitions in therapy makes it far easier for students to use these skills long after they leave Trails. Intentionally incorporating transitions allows our students to build resilience. 

From our base campus to the wilderness, students are facing various challenges that allow them to practice their newfound coping and transition skills. As they face and overcome these challenges, their perspective and behaviors change. They find new self-confidence and become the best version of themselves, increasing their self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-efficacy. 

Our therapeutic, wilderness, and academic teams of Trails Carolina Staff work together to identify teachable moments and broaden our perspective of the student to provide a comprehensive assessment and holistic, individualized treatment plan.

Get started today

Contact us today to learn how Trails Carolina can help your family

Contact Us LP

Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022