Wilderness Programs For Youth

We Deliver On Our Promise To Reunite Families

Helping your child and family is our number one priority

Trails Carolina was founded with a singular goal – to help struggling teens and their families reconnect, heal, and thrive. Over the years, our approach has been shown to produce lasting, positive outcomes, delivering on that mission. Our focus on family involvement, continuing education through accredited academics, and practicing transitions sets our program apart.


What Makes Our Wilderness Therapy Program Special?

Our North Carolina wilderness therapy programs for youth stand out among other therapeutic wilderness programs because of our unique approach to experiential therapy. Here's how we do it:

wilderness programs for youth - young boy smiling at a Trails campsite

We Use Individualized Approaches For Each Student

Each child that arrives on our campus is unique and brings their own needs and challenges in regard to their behavioral and emotional health. Immediately, we get to work making sure they receive the support they need, starting by introducing them to the peer group they’ll be growing with.

Each student will work with a primary therapist for an initial intake assessment and individual therapy sessions during which the student’s therapist will work with them to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Each plan is designed to meet the needs and goals of each student. This is a collaborative process that invites the student to have a say in their treatment.

This leads to personal growth in the form of increased self confidence, self awareness, self efficacy, and self esteem, as well as stronger communication skills.

teen boy in the woods

We Are A Team Of Compassionate Wilderness Guides, Residential Staff, & Licensed Therapists

Our trained wilderness staff lead our peer groups in adventure therapy activities in the distraction free environment of the great outdoors.

Our experienced, licensed therapists and clinicians conduct individual and group therapy sessions are conducted. Our clinicians each specialize in working with youth who fit their group’s profile – and it shows.

We also have a team of family coaches who work to keep parents engaged along this powerful journey, empowering them to support and communicate effectively with their child when they return home.

teen girl smiling at Trails base camp

We Prioritize Family Involvement

As one of the leading wilderness therapy programs in the country, Trails includes an integrated Parent and Family Program that parallels the student’s progress.

As a parent of a Trails student, you’ll have access to onsite workshops that allow you to immerse yourself in the curriculum, tools, and skills your child is learning. There are also optional Family Reunification Experiences. 

With the support of a therapist, families engage in a variety of activities designed for them to practice healthy, new communication and family relational skills.

teen girl smiling at a campsite

We Offer Experiential Education & Accredited Academics

Truly unique among wilderness therapy programs, our experiential education program includes comprehensive, accredited academics that rival other therapeutic schools.

We understand that behavioral issues often carry over to the classroom, resulting in struggles that often undermine mental health progress. Our work here is focused on renewing confidence in the classroom and preparing students to return to their home schools as functional and critical learners.

Our certified teachers can help your student maintain their educational momentum, or develop new skills that will provide greater academic confidence.

We even offer transferable high school credits for their experiential work at Trails – setting it apart from other wilderness programs.

teen boy smiling at Trails Carolina's wilderness programs for youth

We Focus On Transitions For Lasting Outcomes

Another aspect that makes Trails unique is the focus on transitions. We’ve designed a series of diverse environments to allow students the opportunity to practice, refine, and gain confidence in their skills before transitioning back to the home environment.

This transition cycle includes a two-week backpacking expedition, returning to base camp for a week to participate in academics & equine therapy programs, and a week at our Sky Valley base camp to practice mindfulness, yoga, and learn about whole body wellness.

Trails Carolina’s Therapeutic Wilderness Program for troubled teens is dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.

  • Master’s level Therapists

  • Individualized Treatment Planning

  • School with Accredited Academics

  • Flexible Lengths of Stay

  • Aftercare Transition Planning

  • Individual & Group Therapy

  • Family Program & Assessment

  • Weekly Family Treatment Planning

  • Parenting Education Materials

  • Clothing, Gear & Equipment Included

  • Psychological Testing – Optional

  • Equine Programming

Frequently Asked Questions: Why Trails?

Trails Carolina is a wilderness treatment center located in Western North Carolina that offers therapeutic programs for children and adolescents to help them overcome challenges related to mental health and behavioral issues.

At Trails Carolina, we offer therapeutic wilderness programs for children and teens. Our programs combine various types of experiential therapy such as wilderness adventure therapy, equine therapy programs, family coaching and family involvement programming, and accredited academic programming at the wilderness school on our base camp.

Our programs are designed for youth between the ages of 10 and 17 years old who would benefit from experiential therapy in a distraction free environment away from home. The trauma-informed therapeutic practices and interventions that we use work particularly well in addressing mental, behavioral, and development challenges such as:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Family conflict

  • Low self-esteem

  • Trauma

  • Social isolation

  • Self-harm

  • Suicide ideation

  • Adoption

  • Defiant behavior/Oppositional Defiant Disorder

  • Gaming and technology obsession

  • Substance use

  • Attachment issues

  • Manipulative behavior

  • Poor academic achievement

  • Learning differences

  • School refusal

  • ADHD

  • Mood dysregulation

  • Autism (high functioning)

Our students have the opportunity to participate in cooperative wilderness adventure activities such as hiking, backpacking, bouldering, and camping.

These activities teach students important skills needed to work as a team, communicate effectively, and overcome challenges with grace.

Our experienced and compassionate clinicians use trauma-informed and evidence-based best practices in the field.

Each student receives an individualized treatment plan co-developed by their primary therapist, them, and their parents.

The therapeutic approaches can include CBT, ACT, guided journaling, experiential therapeutic interventions, and more.

You might be wondering, Does wilderness therapy work?

At Trails Carolina, we believe in tracking the long-term effectiveness of our programs in coordination with third-party researchers like CReATE and the University of Arkansas, using the gold standard in assessment tools.

The empirical evidence collected in an ongoing, third-party outcomes study tracking the effectiveness of our programs in over 1,000 participating families indicates that wilderness therapy is highly effective.

98% of students reported continued significant improvements in mental health and behavioral symptoms 12 months after graduation.

We are one of the top rated wilderness programs in the country. Hear wilderness therapy reviews from our alumni students!

The cost of wilderness therapy programs varies around a rate of $600-$1000 per day.

At Trails Carolina, our tuition is based on a daily rate of $715 per day for our Youth Groups (10-13) and $675 for our Adolescent Groups (14-17).

We request that the initial deposit covers the first 42 days plus the Enrollment Fee of $4,900.

The typical length of stay for students in our wilderness programs is 70-90 days.

Tuition covers:

  • Individual, group, and family therapeutic programs; family involvement and family coaching
  • Wilderness adventure activities; clothing and gear, nutritious meals, and room and board at our base camp
  • Wellness programming, equine therapy programs, and onsite medication management
  • And integrated academics.
family reuniting - trails carolina reviews

Everything we do at Trails Carolina is meant to prepare students and families to transition their wilderness experience into the real world and create a bright future.

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

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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


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.

wilderness therapy reviews

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.

Our Groups

At Trails Carolina, we provide a safe, healthy environment for a variety of age groups to receive treatment. We offer wilderness therapy programs for preteen boys (10-13), preteen girls (10-13), teen girls (14-17), and teen boys (14-17).

Wilderness Therapy for Boys 10-13

Wilderness Therapy for Girls 10-13

Wilderness Therapy for Girls 14-17

Wilderness Therapy for Boys 14-17

We believe that segmenting groups by age and gender allows our team of mental health professionals, wilderness and adventure camp field instructors, and accredited education consultants to provide more focused and effective personalized care to each student. Additionally, evidence shows that using segmented peer groups helps students learn to build positive relationships among their own peers. This makes the transition back to traditional school settings easier for young people. And it helps our students learn how to interact and build healthy connections for life.