Trails Carolina – Transforming Lives with Wilderness Therapy

At Trails Carolina we have brought together the best from wilderness and evidenced-based therapies to create a wilderness therapy program that is clinically driven and family focused.

Trails Carolina is a dual diagnosis facility specializing in the treatment of children ages 10-17 with a wide variety of issues from school refusal to drug and alcohol abuse and everything in-between. Each of our therapists have different areas of expertise which allows us to designate our groups by age, gender and type of issue. Because everything we do is individualized, length of stay looks different from student to student even within the same group.

At Trails, an adolescent develops new skills and resources to address the emotional, social, academic or neurological challenges that brought them to our wilderness therapy program. Throughout the wilderness experience, expeditions are utilized to empower students to make lasting changes.

To support lasting change, transition planning is offered as a collaborative effort of the therapeutic team, the student, the family and aftercare providers.  The end goal of Trails Carolina is to prepare our students and their families for life after Trails.


Trails Carolina has helped me become who I want to be, I would totally recommend Trails!

Jessica, age 14 Trails
JessicaAge 14


Phone: (800) 975-7303



City: Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

Closest Airport: Asheville Regional Airport


Average Duration:  60-90 days

Who we Help: Girls and Boys between the ages of 10-17.

Student Profile:

  • Oppositional Defiance
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • School Refusal
  • Family Conflict
  • Adoption & Attachment Issues
  • Trauma

Learn More About Trails Carolina

A Wilderness Therapy Program For Boys and Girls
  • Graham Shannonhouse
    Graham Shannonhouse
    Founder - Trails Carolina, Trails Momentum, Foundations Asheville
  • Shalene Pierce
    Shalene Pierce
    Founder & Primary Therapist – Trails Carolina

Trails Carolina News & Press

Trails Carolina Wilderness Therapy Program Granted 3-Year CARF Accreditation Renewal

This accreditation is a testament to our team’s dedication and expertise in delivering transformative wilderness therapy experiences.

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Empirical Evidence Indicates Nature-Based Therapy Is Highly Effective For Children And Adolescents

98.9% of participants reported continued improved mental health 12 months after graduating from Trails Carolina.

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Trails Carolina Staff Shed Light on Wilderness Therapy Program’s Impact

Hear from staff members as they discuss the transformative experiences and positive outcomes of the Trails Carolina wilderness therapy program for struggling youth.

Read the full press release:

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Graham Shannonhouse
Founder - Trails Carolina, Trails Momentum, Foundations Asheville

Graham Shannonhouse has more than 20 years of experience in the wilderness field. With an intimate working knowledge of the roots of wilderness therapy, Graham brought her wisdom and insights into the development of the country’s first wilderness experience to intentionally integrate family work into the student’s core treatment plan.  And with more than 16 years in the wilderness field, she has been an integral part of the conception, execution, and evolution of what we have come to know as wilderness therapy.

Graham began her career as a hands-on field instructor, quickly moving to field supervisor, followed by a tenure as program director. During this period she successfully designed, managed and served as a therapist for the country’s first therapeutic wilderness program specifically for teens ages 10 to 13. In 2002, Graham returned to the east to serve as executive director for a therapeutic wilderness program based in North Carolina, successfully growing it into one of the most respected companies in the industry.

When Graham is not working she enjoys wake boarding, mountain biking, and running with her two golden doodles on the many trails of Western North Carolina. She competes in marathons, rides in local bike races, and is an exceptionally talented chef. More than anything, Graham loves to travel and spend time with her family.

Growing up in North Carolina, I would spend my summers in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. My time in the wilderness helped me define myself as a person, and it is with gratitude and joy that I am able to offer struggling adolescents and their families the opportunity to do the same.

click here to go to Trails Carolina

Shalene Pierce
Founder & Primary Therapist – Trails Carolina

Shalene Pierce has worked in the wilderness industry for over fifteen years as a field instructor, clinical director, and a therapist at four different programs in various areas of the country.  Shalene is an expert at wilderness therapy and has a specialty in trauma work including utilizing EMDR and exposure therapy techniques.  The empowerment of the wilderness experience, multiple transition opportunities, and the variety of the programming at Trails provide constant opportunities for growth and change and this keeps Shalene grounded at Trails Carolina. Shalene has a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies from The University of Texas, Austin.

In her personal time, Shalene enjoys spending time with her family, including her two dogs, and staying physically active.  Shalene enjoys a regular yoga practice, being outside in her flower and vegetable garden, traveling, and having fun.

It is good to have an end to journey towards ; But it is the journey that matters, in the end.

click here to go to Trails Carolina