Trails Carolina Investigation Reviews

Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for adolescents with mental health and behavioral challenges. The program has been in operation since 2008 and has served over 1,500 students. Trails Carolina is located in western North Carolina and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and rock climbing. The program also provides individual and group therapy.

In recent years, Trails Carolina has been the subject of numerous investigations and reviews. These investigations have raised concerns about the program’s safety, efficacy, and treatment practices.


In 2014, a 15-year-old boy named Lansing Taylor died after running away from Trails Carolina and breaking his femur in a fall. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) investigated Taylor’s death and found that Trails Carolina staff had waited five hours before calling for help. The DHHS also found that Trails Carolina had violated several state regulations, including failing to provide adequate supervision and medical care to students.

In 2021, a group of former Trails Carolina students and their families filed a lawsuit against the program alleging physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The lawsuit also alleges that Trails Carolina falsified records and misled parents about the program’s safety and efficacy.

In response to the lawsuit, the DHHS launched another investigation into Trails Carolina. The investigation is ongoing, but the DHHS has already issued several citations to the program for violating state regulations.


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In addition to the investigations, Trails Carolina has also been the subject of several reviews. These reviews have been conducted by independent organizations and media outlets.

In 2022, the Mental Health Advocacy Coalition (MHAC) released a report on Trails Carolina. The report found that Trails Carolina had a history of safety violations and that the program’s treatment practices were not evidence-based.

The MHAC report also found that Trails Carolina had a high dropout rate. The report stated that “many students leave Trails Carolina before completing the program because they are not able to tolerate the harsh conditions or the abusive treatment.”

In 2023, the New York Times published an article about Trails Carolina. The article interviewed several former students and their families who alleged that they had been physically and emotionally abused at the program. The article also quoted experts who questioned the efficacy of wilderness therapy programs.


In addition to the investigations and reviews, there are also many testimonials from former Trails Carolina students and their families. These testimonials paint a mixed picture of the program.

Some former students and families say that Trails Carolina was a positive experience that helped them to turn their lives around. Others say that the program was abusive and harmful.

Here are some examples of testimonials from former Trails Carolina students and families:

  • “Trails Carolina saved my life. I was struggling with depression and anxiety, and I didn’t know what to do. But Trails Carolina gave me the tools I needed to get better.”
  • “Trails Carolina was the worst experience of my life. I was physically and emotionally abused by the staff. I would never recommend Trails Carolina to anyone.”
  • “Trails Carolina was tough, but it was worth it. I learned a lot about myself and how to cope with my challenges. I’m a much better person because of Trails Carolina.”
  • “Trails Carolina was a waste of time and money. I didn’t learn anything useful, and I was just miserable the whole time.”
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The investigations, reviews, and testimonials paint a complex picture of Trails Carolina. The program has a history of safety violations and has been accused of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. However, some former students and families say that Trails Carolina was a positive experience that helped them to turn their lives around.

It is important to note that the investigations and reviews are still ongoing. It is also important to remember that testimonials can be subjective and that not everyone will have the same experience at Trails Carolina.

If you are considering sending your child to Trails Carolina, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully. You should also talk to other parents who have sent their children to the program and get their feedback.

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