Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy initiative, has garnered significant attention within the domain of adolescent mental health treatment, eliciting both commendation and apprehension. While numerous families have expressed favorable encounters with the program, it has also faced allegations and apprehensions concerning its safety, efficacy, and ethical standards. In this extensive inquiry, we endeavor to cast light on Trails Carolina “Investigation” by delving into its history, methodologies, controversies, and the broader landscape of wilderness therapy programs.

What Is Trails Carolina?

What Is Trails Carolina?

Trails Carolina, established in 2008, is a wilderness therapy initiative designed for adolescents aged 13 to 17 dealing with challenges such as addiction, behavioral issues, and mental health disorders. The program is dedicated to assisting young individuals in gaining a deeper understanding of their struggles and developing essential coping skills by immersing them in nature, offering counseling, academic instruction, and group therapy.

Typically, participants reside at Trails Carolina for a duration of 6 to 9 weeks. During their stay, they engage in bluefire wilderness reviews, hikes, outdoor camping, fire-cooked meals, and agricultural tasks. Both group and one-on-one therapy sessions are conducted to address underlying issues. The program emphasizes a distinctive approach founded on compassion and endeavors to avoid creating an adversarial atmosphere.

Trails Carolina “Abuse” Allegations 

Trails Carolina "Abuse” Allegations 

Trails Carolina has faced recurrent allegations of participant mistreatment, with numerous reports detailing instances of physical, emotional, and psychological Trails Carolina “abuse” perpetrated by the program’s staff. These distressing accounts encompass: 

  • extreme climatic conditions, such as being forced to sleep outside in the cold without the proper clothing or bedding.
  • denying someone access to needs including food, drink, medicine, and personal care products as a form of punishment or control.
  • verbal trails incidents Carolina Staff member’s verbal abuse, humiliation, threats, and gaslightings.
  • Instances of participants being isolated from their peers and families, and being prevented from communication.
  • Allegations of coercion into admitting to actions or feelings they did not genuinely experience.
  • Reports of physical Trails Carolina “abuse”, including restraining, hitting, kicking, or choking inflicted by staff members.

Also Read : Trails Carolina Wilderness Therapy Abuse and Therapy Program

Causes Of  Trails Carolina “Investigation”

  • Groundbreaking Discoveries: The investigation unearthed previously undisclosed or unverified details concerning the operations of Trails Carolina “Investigation”
  • Public Perception Shift: The Trails Carolina Investigation findings led to a significant shift in public sentiment, emphasizing the critical importance of transparency and accountability.
  • Operational Adjustments: Trails Carolina responded to the findings by reevaluating their practices and implementing necessary changes to address the identified concerns.
  • Media’s Impact: The media played a pivotal role in both catalyzing the investigation and disseminating its results, underscoring its power in shaping public opinion.
  • Factual Clarity: The Trails Carolina Investigation effectively distinguished verified information from rumors, ensuring that the public received accurate insights into Trails Carolina “Investigation”.
  • Industry Wide Consequences: The revelations from the investigation had a ripple effect throughout the industry, compelling other institutions to reexamine their own practices.
  • Regulatory Response: Regulatory bodies and relevant authorities were spurred to take action based on the investigation’s outcomes.
  • Rebuilding Trust: Reestablishing trust became a top priority for Trails Carolina, underscoring the essential role of credibility within such institutions.
  • Future Guidelines: The investigation laid the groundwork for the establishment of more stringent guidelines to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the industry.
  • Wider Implications: The Trails Carolina Investigation serves as a reminder of the broader implications of institutional accountability and the ongoing necessity for oversight.

Trails Carolina “Investigation” And Responses:

Trails Carolina "Investigation" And Responses:

Amidst the growing and troubling allegations, authorities and officials initiated a comprehensive examination of the Trails Carolina program. Whistleblowers courageously stepped forward, Trails Carolina lawsuits were lodged, and formal investigations were launched, all of which uncovered unsettling patterns and triggered further scrutiny. 

  1.  Whistleblowers:

In recent times, former Trails Carolina staff members have stepped into the spotlight to corroborate instances of misconduct. These whistleblowers depict a toxic environment where mistreatment was commonplace, and any dissenting voices were systematically suppressed. 

One notable former mental health counselor, Stephanie Smithart, has been particularly vocal. Smithart has revealed that she personally witnessed staff members verbally abusing participants, utilizing harsh punitive measures such as pinning, and denying essential medical care. When she attempted to raise her concerns with her superiors, she alleges that she was instructed to remain silent in order to safeguard the program’s reputation.

  1. Trails Carolina lawsuit:

Subsequent to these whistleblowers’ disclosures, legal complaints from former participants and their families began to emerge. At least four lawsuits have been filed against Trails Carolina, alleging both physical and psychological Trails Carolina “abuse”

One of these Trails Carolina lawsuits, recounts the harrowing experience of a 17-year-old girl who was forcibly restrained for an extended period, resulting in bruises and numbness. When the girl’s parents arrived to remove her from the program prematurely, she claims that staff members exerted pressure on her to downplay her ordeal to avoid trouble. 

While some of these legal complaints were settled out of court, they collectively contributed to the initiation of the official Trails Carolina Investigation.

  1. State Investigation:

Responding to the disconcerting reports, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services instigated an inquiry into Trails Carolina “Investigation” in 2018. State inspectors uncovered more than 100 violations occurring between 2018 and 2020, including improper restraints, a lack of adequate medical care, and the toleration of inappropriate relationships between staff and students. 

Furthermore, investigators cited the program for employing under-qualified staff and failing to conduct thorough background checks. The state authorities issued a warning to revoke Trails Carolina’s license if immediate corrective actions were not taken. Although some progress has been reported in response to these citations, many assert that these violations substantiate the allegations of abuse.

  1. Federal Investigation:

Galvanized by the revelations of whistleblowers and participants, as well as the disconcerting state Trails Carolina Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated a federal inquiry into Trails Carolina in 2020. This ongoing criminal investigation aims to ascertain whether Trails Carolina violated federal laws. Former students have reportedly been summoned to provide testimonies about their experiences and gave their bluefire wilderness therapy reviews

Although no indictments have been issued as of yet, the involvement of the FBI underscores the gravity of the allegations leveled against the teen wilderness program. 


The shocking stories emerging from the so called trails carolina “investigation” have reverberated far beyond the bluefire wilderness reviews. It is absolutely essential to conduct a thorough inquiry to uncover the truth, given the mounting allegations of abuse and mistreatment at Trails Carolina. The way Trails Carolina responds to these accusations and the subsequent changes they implement will ultimately shape its reputation as a bluefire wilderness review in the years to come. As the Trails Carolina “Investigation” unfolds, all involved parties must prioritize the well-being of the participants and take the necessary steps to prevent future wrongdoing. Trust and integrity in the Trails Carolina program can only be rebuilt through accountability, transparency, and an unwavering commitment to continuous improvement, thus ensuring a safe and supportive environment for those seeking help.