North Carolina Wilderness Therapy

The Unique Location Of Trails Carolina

Top Wilderness Therapy Programs In North Carolina

Trails Carolina offers wilderness therapy programs for troubled youth and struggling teens between the ages of 10 and 17. We help propel young people toward self-discovery, self-awareness, and long-term recovery from negative influences and behaviors through unique experiences and the development of healthy coping skills.

Our therapeutic wilderness programs combine therapeutic intervention strategies facilitated by licensed therapists with experiential therapy in a unique wilderness environment to help struggling adolescents overcome emotional and mental health challenges and behavioral problems.

We use a family systems approach that plays an integral part in how we support the entire family at every step of the therapeutic process. This approach invites families to be involved in the treatment of their child and sets us apart from other therapeutic options.

What Makes Our Wilderness Therapy Location Special?

Our wilderness camp for troubled youth is nestled in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. The mountains provide a serene and peaceful setting that nurtures healing and reflection.

Finding wilderness therapy programs that can offer the distraction-free environment of a natural setting and proximity to many major cities can be challenging.

The location of Trails Carolina does just that. Our wilderness treatment center feels remote while still offering easy access to Charlotte, NC (2 ½ hours), Atlanta, GA (3 hours), Greenville, NC (2 hours), and Asheville, NC (one hour).

North Carolina Wilderness Therapy

Trails Carolina Helps Adolescents and Teens From States Across the Country:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Our Residential & Wilderness Sites

Trails Carolina Campus Tour

Take a virtual tour of the gorgeous Trails Carolina campus in the mountains of Western North Carolina. We have over 1,200 acres of private land to support our students.

Or, give us a call and ask about scheduling an in-person visit before making the decision to enroll your child in our wilderness therapy program.

Winding Gap

Surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, our Winding Gap base camp offers beautiful views and fresh mountain air.

This home-base includes cabins, classrooms, horse stables, and family workshop facilities. Students do traditional schoolwork and experiential learning here that mimic the daily life they are familiar with.

Sky Valley

Beyond our Winding Gap base camp in Lake Toxaway, we have another base camp called Sky Valley, just a short drive away.

Sky Valley is where students enjoy over 600 acres of land with camping and yurt sites, a science center, and access to Dupont State Forest.


Shuttleworth campus includes over 500 acres of land full of camping opportunities in both tents and cabins.

Here, our students engage in adventure therapy activities. This includes hiking and backpacking, as well as engaging in cooperative outdoor activities.

family reuniting - trails carolina reviews
Trails Carolina’s wilderness camps for troubled teens are dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.

Why Choose Our North Carolina Wilderness Therapy Program Over Other Programs?

Why is a change of environment an important part of recovery for youth?

Get A Change Of Perspective

When youth and teens are struggling with emotional and behavioral issues at home and at school, a change of environment can be an important part of recovery for several reasons:

  • It Allows For A Break from Negative Patterns: Many teenagers struggling with a mental health disorder or behavioral problem may have developed negative patterns of behavior in their home or school environments. We give our students a chance to get outside — literally and figuratively — of the stressors and demands of home and school. When our students move away from the settings in which they've struggled, they can gain a new perspective, reflect upon past behaviors, and work on instilling new, positive habits and mindsets.

  • It Reduces Distractions: Our wilderness programs for youth provide a less distracting environment than the typical home or school environment. For one, our students spend less time on their electronic devices and more time engaging with nature, themselves, and other people going through similar challenges. This allows teens to focus on their therapy and self-improvement without the usual distractions of everyday life.

  • It Encourages Connection with Nature: Being immersed in nature can be a powerful way for teens to connect with themselves and their surroundings. This connection with nature can help promote self-reflection, relaxation, and inner peace.

therapeutic wilderness program
What are the benefits of nature on teenage mental health?

Experience The Mental Health Benefits Of Nature

The healing power of nature refers to the positive impact that natural environments can have on mental health and well-being. Our program allows students to unplug from technology and reconnect with themselves and others in a place that is naturally healing and supportive.

For adolescents and teenagers, spending time in nature can have a range of benefits for both physical and mental health, proving to be a valuable part of mental health treatment and maintenance.

The natural benefits of wilderness therapy include:

  • Reduced Stress: Spending time in nature can help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. This is particularly important for teenagers who may be experiencing high levels of stress due to academic pressures or social challenges.

  • Improved Mood: Exposure to nature has been shown to improve mood and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. This can be especially beneficial for teenagers who are struggling with mental health issues.

  • Increased Physical Activity: Spending time in nature often involves physical activity, such as hiking or walking. This can help improve overall physical health, which in turn can have positive effects on mental health.

  • Improved Focus and Attention: Spending time in nature can help improve focus and attention. This can be especially important for teenagers who may struggle with distractions and difficulties in concentration.

  • Increased Social Support: Nature-based activities can provide opportunities for social support and connection. For example, participating in a nature-based group activity can help teenagers build relationships with peers who share similar interests.

What does it mean to heal through challenge?

Heal Through Challenge

In the context of wilderness and adventure therapy, healing through challenge refers to the process of using challenging experiences in the natural environment to promote personal growth and healing.

At Trails Carolina, our students go on wilderness expeditions and engage in team-building activities under the careful guidance of our trained staff.

The challenges that our students are exposed to during wilderness expeditions can include physical challenges such as backpacking, hiking, and camping, and emotional challenges such as learning to trust others and developing resilience in the face of adversity.

Some of the mental health and behavioral benefits of challenging oneself in the wilderness therapy context can include:

  • Increased Self-Confidence: Successfully completing challenging experiences in the wilderness can help teens develop a sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy that can carry over into other areas of their lives.

  • Improved Coping Skills: Challenging experiences can help teens develop coping skills for managing stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. These skills can include mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and problem-solving strategies.

  • Increased Resilience: Challenging experiences can help build resilience by teaching teens to persevere through difficult situations and adapt to changing circumstances.

  • Improved Communication and Relationship Skills: Participating in group activities in the wilderness can help teens develop communication and relationship skills, including listening, empathy, and conflict resolution.

Trails student learning to make a camp fire

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.

what is wilderness therapy
A Comprehensive Wilderness Therapy Program Combined With Residential Programming, Base Camp And Accredited Academics

Talk To Our Admissions Team

Our Admissions Team can help if you have any questions about the cost of wilderness therapy, want to learn more about our program, or wish to tour our Winding Gap base camp before enrolling your child in our leading wilderness therapy program.

We are here to support you and your family through this journey.

Transportation Assistance Is Available

The Trails Carolina team can help parents make travel plans for their children to arrive at campus and return home.

We offer multiple services that can assist families in transporting their children from home or other therapeutic programs to our base camp in Lake Taxoway, NC.

Our transportation team is trauma-informed.

wilderness therapy transitions
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