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Trails Carolina

About Us

What exactly are we?
Trails Carolina is a certified wilderness rehabilitation facility located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. We specialize in assisting adolescents aged 10 to 17 who are dealing with mental or behavioral health concerns, technology addiction, interpersonal conflict, identity challenges, or low academic accomplishment.

Our program is designed to help adolescents overcome obstacles and realize their full potential by exposing them to a variety of surroundings and therapeutic experiences. Students at Trails go through a wilderness treatment environment, then to residential base camps before returning to the woods.

This cycle replicates school and home environments by introducing dynamic social and environmental change into the learner experience. This inclusive approach offers students the resilience they will need to achieve long-term, positive gains beyond graduation.

Trails' staff collaborates with each child and family to develop unique treatment programs. Trauma-informed licensed clinicians, an expert wilderness team, qualified instructors, and special activities staff collaborate to help your kid achieve holistic well-being.

Who are we here to serve?

Trails serve adolescents between the ages of 10 and 17. Each category is divided into age groups, gender identities, and therapeutic niches. Students get to experience creating healthy interactions with people their age by defining peer groups. This approach facilitates the return to regular classrooms.

Families frequently seek our services when their kid is experiencing a mental health or behavioral concerns such as anxiety, sadness, attachment disorders, technology addiction, substance use, or strain in family and academic contexts.

Many of our students have internal problems that get externalized. We assist our children to understand and break bad behaviors including isolation, acting out, and violent conduct.

When someone we care about is suffering from mental or behavioral health challenges, our emotional anguish is heightened. The family therapist at Trails helps families to reinforce therapeutic principles and recover alongside their children. Our staff want to assist your family in properly communicating and rebuilding your relationship.

How can we assist?

Trails Carolina allows students to immerse themselves in the grandeur of the Blue Ridge Mountains, away from the overwhelming sensations of their daily lives. We have designed our program facilities to be research-based and therapeutic.

Our distinct combination of wilderness outposts and residential-style base camps teaches students adaptation and resilience. When kids achieve achievement in each of these areas, their self-esteem grows. Trails' transitional habitats allow each participant to practice growing abilities in a safe atmosphere without fear of failure.

During their time at Trails, students will go through a programming rotation two and a half to three times. This comprises a two-week hiking excursion, a week at Winding Gap, our horse and academic-focused base camp, and a week at Sky Valley, our mind-body connection base camp.

With the direction of experienced therapists and loving field personnel, we challenge students to venture into new situations with courage and optimism. Students gain confidence in establishing healthy behaviors that they will take forward when they reintegrate with their classmates, community, and family back home.

We must do more than just assist each child to thrive if we are to achieve actual success. This is why Trails Carolina has a thorough system in place to assist families in healing and learning the skills necessary to promote good growth beyond graduation.

Trails provide weekly counseling calls, a parent skills course, weekly conversations with your child's primary therapist, and weekly zoom sessions to help families acquire the grounding meditation and yoga methods that we teach all of our students.

Not only can family engagement boost an individual's treatment success, but it also lays the groundwork for long-term improvement. Relationship mending is essential for maintaining connections and trust among family members.

We provide a three-day family and student program in the midst of a student's stay, as well as a four-day family integration opportunity, Common Ground, at the conclusion, which is uniquely matched with our focus on the therapeutic advantages of transitional care. This resource allows families to practice skills and reconnect with the safety and support of our team after the session is completed.

Methodology in Clinical Practice

Trails focus on developing transferrable skills such as self-awareness, constructive communication, conflict resolution, self-advocacy, and coping abilities, as well as on fostering healthy relationships and recognizing personal strengths. These therapeutic teachings are naturally interwoven into the lives of young people.

Our evidence-based therapeutic approach focuses on gradual development and student support via strength-based, trauma-informed treatment.

We effectively boost student progress in this unique wilderness treatment paradigm by combining the scientifically established advantages of outdoor immersion with organized home bases for applying gained abilities. Students' confidence and attitudes evolve as they learn to overcome the inherent obstacles of excursions.

Programming adjusts to each individual's abilities and learning styles to deliver the greatest care by bringing together professionals from various industries.

Academic Methodology

During their academic rotation, students participate in educational programs in which they apply skills and techniques developed in the wilderness to a life after Trails context. Frequently, troubles in school reflect mental health or behavioral issues.

Certified, experienced instructors collaborate with therapists to personalize the curriculum for each student. Our objective is to address each person's learning needs while also motivating them to engage in teachings from a point of intrinsic drive.

Personal wellness, earth sciences, language arts, and history are all topics covered in daily classes. Some sessions are held in regular classrooms, whereas our one-of-a-kind, experience-based science center introduces kids to a variety of animals and science projects in an engaging atmosphere.

The natural science curriculum at Trails allows frequently misunderstood kids to interact with peers but also frequently misunderstood creatures such as frogs, poultry, fish, insects, reptiles, and opossums. Through these unexpected animal partnerships, students gain awe and respect for animals.

Previous students developed renewable solar energy panels that power our science classroom. Scientific Steve, the resident naturalist, inspires children' surprise and interest via various science projects in the classroom, garden, and with farm animals.

Students are engaged in learning from an exciting new perspective thanks to innovative academic programs. We encourage students to advocate for their education while also instilling agency and confidence in them.

Students can transfer credits from our classes to their home districts because we are an authorized academic program. Credits are earned differently depending on age, with middle school students receiving up to 2.5 credits and high school students earning up to 3 credits.

Therapy Complementary Activities

We encourage students to get out of their comfort zones and believe in their potential to overcome obstacles.

As professionals, we understand the need of comprehensive therapy for long-term improvement. According to research, emotional discomfort and trauma are retained throughout our bodies. Through daily wellness programming, students at our Sky Valley base camp understand the advantages of this mind-body link.

Intentional breathing methods are presented to students in order to help them manage their emotions and feel grounded. Furthermore, extra mindfulness activities such as yoga lessons and meditation practices aid in the development of students' therapeutic toolboxes.

Through hands-on cooking workshops, our culinary team helps students comprehend the practical side of the nutrition curriculum. In addition, to assist students in staying on track, each individual develops a unique self-care plan to support their reintegration and continued health.

At Trails, we believe that every minute in treatment is a chance to develop, heal, and reconnect with ourselves and the people we care about. We want every kid to succeed by providing genuine staff engagement and individualized programming.


Every member of the team is committed to providing an experience for each student that promotes their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our program underwent a thorough accreditation procedure with CARF and AEE. This implies that we have independent confirmation that our program maintains high standards for student rights, safety, services, and corporate ethics.

Through background checks and rigorous training, we guarantee that each member of our team is qualified for their position on our team. We have comprehensive onboarding training, and Trails staff members attend in-service training and skill-learning courses on a regular basis.

During field trips and residential base camp stays, our comprehensive risk management system is used. Staff are trained in CPR, First Aid, and are frequently designated as Wilderness First Responders. A consultant physician is always available to students.


Trails Carolina collaborated with the Center for Research, Assessment, and Treatment Efficacy (CReATE) in Asheville, NC, and the Development Science department at the University of Arkansas to develop a comprehensive outcomes research to validate treatment efficacy for our students and families. This independent research was undertaken over a five-year period to better evaluate the long-term impact of Trails' program.

The ongoing study collects vital data on mental and behavioral health at admission and graduation, as well as three and twelve months following graduation.

Here are some instances of 12-month post-graduation results:

• Anxiety symptoms improved in 86% of students.
• 93% of pupils improved their depressive symptoms.
• 98% of pupils reported a decrease in suicidal thoughts.
• 96% of students reported a decrease in drug usage • 97% of students reported a decrease in ADHD-related symptoms

The shown outcomes demonstrate tremendous success for students' behavioral and mental health, as well as academic accomplishment. We are excited to offer the statistics that shows the long-term effects of our wilderness treatment program.


Trails' leadership team offers over 100 years of professional expertise in outdoor and therapeutic programs. Graham Shannonhouse, our founder, has over 30 years of wilderness therapy expertise, and our executive team members each have 15 or more years of professional outdoor and program understanding.

The Trails staff is committed to the development and mental health assistance of our kids and their families. We want to provide families in need skills and hope for the future.

Trails Carolina was formed by a group of people who are passionate about assisting children and families dealing with mental health issues. Over half of the owners in our parent company, Family Help & Wellness, are certified therapists and experienced educators who are passionate about trauma-informed care.