Trails Carolina, a therapeutic wilderness program located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent times. Allegations of mistreatment,

negligence, and unethical practices have prompted an investigation into the program’s operations. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Trails Carolina investigation, shedding light on the various aspects surrounding this controversy.


Trails Carolina was founded in 2008 with the mission of helping struggling adolescents and young adults overcome emotional and behavioral challenges through wilderness therapy. The program prides itself on its holistic approach, combining outdoor experiences with therapeutic interventions led by licensed professionals.

The Allegations

1. Abuse and Negligence

  • Some former participants and their families have claimed instances of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse during their time at Trails Carolina. Allegations range from harsh discipline to neglecting basic needs.

2. Lack of Oversight

  • Critics argue that the wilderness therapy industry, including Trails Carolina, operates with insufficient regulation and oversight, potentially putting vulnerable participants at risk.

3. Questionable Therapeutic Efficacy

  • There are concerns about the effectiveness of wilderness therapy in general, and some argue that it may not provide long-lasting benefits for all participants.

4. Financial Exploitation

  • Accusations of exorbitant fees and hidden costs have been raised, with some families claiming they were not adequately informed about the financial commitments involved.

The Investigation Process

In response to the allegations, an independent investigation was launched by state authorities, aiming to thoroughly assess the practices and conditions at Trails Carolina. The investigation involved interviews with current and former participants, their families, staff members, and an examination of the program’s documentation and procedures.


Q1: What are the specific allegations against Trails Carolina?

A1: The allegations against Trails Carolina include claims of abuse and negligence, lack of oversight, questionable therapeutic efficacy, and financial exploitation.

Q2: How is Trails Carolina responding to the investigation?

A2: Trails Carolina has stated that they are fully cooperating with the investigation and are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of their participants.

Q3: What regulatory framework governs wilderness therapy programs like Trails Carolina?

A3: The wilderness therapy industry operates with varying degrees of regulation across different states. There is no standardized national oversight, which has led to calls for greater regulation.

Q4: Are there any success stories from Trails Carolina?

A4: Trails Carolina has published testimonials and success stories from some participants and their families, highlighting positive transformations and personal growth. However, critics argue that such stories may not represent the experiences of all participants.

Q5: What steps can be taken to improve the oversight of wilderness therapy programs?

A5: Advocates for increased oversight suggest implementing standardized licensing requirements, mandatory reporting of incidents, and regular inspections of program facilities.

Q6: What alternatives exist for families seeking therapeutic interventions for their struggling adolescents?

A6: There are various therapeutic options available, including traditional outpatient therapy, residential treatment centers, and in-home family therapy. It’s crucial for families to thoroughly research and consider the best fit for their specific situation.


The Trails Carolina investigation serves as a reminder of the complexities surrounding wilderness therapy programs and the need for increased transparency and regulation within the industry. As the investigation unfolds, it is essential for all stakeholders, including program participants, families, and regulatory authorities, to work together to ensure the well-being and safety of young individuals seeking help.

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