Trails Carolina Investigation


Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program located in the picturesque mountains of North Carolina, has recently come under scrutiny due to allegations of misconduct and questionable practices. This investigation aims to shed light on the various aspects surrounding the controversy, providing a comprehensive overview of the situation.


Trails Carolina was established in 2008 with the mission of helping struggling adolescents through wilderness therapy. The program combines outdoor experiences with therapeutic interventions to facilitate personal growth and healing. Over the years, it has gained both praise and criticism for its approach.

Allegations and Controversies

1. Abuse and Neglect

Several former participants and staff members have alleged instances of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. These claims range from harsh disciplinary measures to neglecting the well-being of participants.

2. Lack of Regulation

Wilderness therapy programs like Trails Carolina operate in a regulatory gray area. They are not subject to the same oversight as residential treatment centers or therapeutic boarding schools. This lack of regulation has raised concerns about the safety and well-being of participants.

3. Financial Exploitation

Critics argue that these programs often come with hefty price tags, making them accessible only to families with significant financial resources. This has sparked a debate about the equity and accessibility of such interventions.

The Response from Trails Carolina

Trails Carolina has released statements denying the allegations, emphasizing their commitment to the safety and well-being of participants. They have also highlighted the positive outcomes reported by many families and participants who have completed their program.


Q1. What is wilderness therapy?

Wilderness therapy is an approach to treatment that involves immersive outdoor experiences to promote personal growth, self-reflection, and therapeutic healing. It typically combines elements of adventure activities with professional therapy.

Q2. How does Trails Carolina’s program work?

Trails Carolina’s program typically spans 8-10 weeks and involves a combination of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and survival skills, along with individual and group therapy sessions.

Q3. What are the credentials of Trails Carolina staff?

Trails Carolina employs a diverse team of professionals, including licensed therapists, field instructors, and wilderness experts. Staff members are typically required to have relevant certifications and experience in their respective fields.

Q4. How are participants’ safety and well-being ensured?

Trails Carolina emphasizes safety as a top priority. The program provides extensive training to its staff, conducts regular safety checks, and has established protocols for emergency situations.

Q5. What measures are in place to address allegations of misconduct?

Trails Carolina has stated that they take any allegations of misconduct seriously. They conduct internal investigations and, when necessary, involve external authorities to ensure a thorough and impartial review.

Q6. Is wilderness therapy regulated?

Wilderness therapy programs operate in a legal gray area. They are not subject to the same level of oversight as traditional residential treatment centers. This has sparked discussions about the need for increased regulation in the industry.

Q7. What are the alternatives to wilderness therapy?

Alternatives to wilderness therapy include traditional therapy, residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and outpatient counseling. The choice of intervention depends on the specific needs and preferences of the individual and their family.


The Trails Carolina investigation brings to light the complexities and controversies surrounding wilderness therapy programs. While the allegations are serious and warrant attention, it is important to acknowledge that these programs have also helped many individuals find healing and personal growth. Moving forward, increased regulation and transparency may be crucial in ensuring the safety and well-being of participants in wilderness therapy programs.