Trails Carolina Death List – Unveiling the Mysteries and Myths

Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program designed to assist disturbed teenagers in North Carolina. There have been some troublesome reports about it over the years. Some say there have been deaths during the Trails wilderness program death or unsafe conditions.

Others say the program has faced lawsuits over restraint tactics used on kids. Reports of a “Trails Carolina death list” have caused worries. This article will take a deep look into what happened. It will review investigation records and updates on safety rules. The goal is to find the truth behind the controversies at Trails Carolina and see how the program works to help teens today.

Examining the Criticisms and Tragedies

There have been some troubling claims about Trails Carolina over the years. Some former staff and students said there were problems like kids being restrained too hard. One lawsuit from 2014 also talked about staff not getting proper training.

Sadly, there have been 4 known deaths. In 2000 and 2002, two teens passed away during restraints. One also died from overheating. In 2021, a 17-year-old got lost in bad weather and succumbed to hypothermia. His family wanted answers. These tragic stories sparked worries about safety policies and supervision in the wilderness.

Overall, the criticisms questioned whether Trails Carolina properly cared for the mental and physical well-being of troubled teens. With such serious accusations, it’s important to objectively examine what happened according to full investigations and expert reports.

Analyzing Official Investigation Reports

Trails Carolina Death Investigation

Official investigations looked closely at the death cases over the years. When reviewing Alec Lansing’s autopsy, the coroner found he died from hypothermia after climbing a tree by a stream. Witnesses said he may have fallen in.

The reports provided important facts. In Alec’s case, moss was found removed from nearby trees, suggesting he tried to climb for help. His body was also located in cold water, showing how hypothermia can be very dangerous in wilderness areas.

Overall, the investigations found problems like teens needing the right gear, staff not properly trained in first aid, and a lack of good supervision during activities. For example, Alec should have been helped by the stream where it was easy to fall in.

While investigations can’t bring back those lost, their findings helped shed light on safety issues. It’s clear that Trails Carolina needed to make important changes to prevent future tragedies if they continue operating. Public safety should always be the top priority.

Assessing Program Safety Protocols

Official reports showed certain protocols at Trails Carolina needed to match up better with standards. For instance, staff only had basic wilderness first aid training instead of a more thorough wilderness medicine certification. That made emergency response slower.

State rules also require closer supervision of at-risk teens. However, the investigations found Alec was left alone too easily. Trails Wilderness program death should always keep teens within sight or sound of adults.

Other protocols, like equipment checks and activity plans, seemed more organized. Top wilderness programs have very strict routines to prepare for any situation. Reviews are also important so leaders can learn from past incidents.

Trails Carolina has since updated many policies. Staff now get wilderness medicine certified and carry radios for faster rescues. Tracking systems help adults know a teen’s location at all times. Emergency simulations train everyone. These positive changes better comply with practices used by many successful wilderness programs. Continuous quality assurance will be important in the future.

Recent Enhancements and Regulatory Changes

After facing criticisms, Trails Carolina worked hard to strengthen safety. They’ve implemented mandatory crisis intervention training for all staff. New protocols ensure at least two trained guides accompany teens during activities.

Comprehensive medical training through NOLS Wilderness Medicine is now required. All vehicles are equipped with first aid supplies, tents and emergency locating equipment like radios and GPS. Thorough background checks help ensure qualified guides.

Strict supervision policies prevent teens from having unsupervised time. Constant head counts and guide check-ins are required. At-risk individuals get a customized plan. Trails Carolina is also audited annually by independent experts.

Additionally, state regulators have increased oversight of wilderness programs. Programs must maintain high staff-to-student ratios, comprehensive emergency plans and mandatory reporting of all incidents. Licensing requires programs to prove proper training, facilities, and policies are in place.

These positive steps prioritize participant well-being. Trails Carolina’s reforms aimed to rebuild lost trust by implementing industry-leading best practices. Continued progress ensures troubled youth receive care safely as they work towards personal growth and healing.


What kind of issues do they help with?

Trails Carolina specializes in treating adolescents facing a variety of challenges like behavioural problems, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and more. Through their wilderness-based model, they work to improve participants’ mental health and behaviour.

How long does the program last?

Most Trails Carolina programs range from 8-12 weeks. This lengthy duration allows time for therapeutic growth and personal development through meaningful outdoor experiences and counselling sessions.

Are safety and supervision adequate?

While some former participants allege supervision lapses and restraint abuse, Trails Carolina says safety is their top priority. They work to provide close supervision and properly train staff in safety protocols. However, tragic incidents still raise concerns about managing high-risk situations.

What is the “Death List”?

The ominous-sounding “Trails Carolina Death List” refers to a roster of past participants. Unfortunately, it also includes those who died, like from hypothermia or injuries during restraints. The name fuels misunderstandings about the generally non-lethal nature of the program.

Have there been lawsuits?

Yes, in 2014, a former staff member sued Trails Carolina, alleging witnessed abuse and lack of proper restraint training. While improvements were recognized, doubts remained about safety systems to prevent staff or student harm. Lawsuits seek greater accountability.

What type of aftercare is provided?

After completing the wilderness therapy portion, Trails Carolina offers continued therapeutic support services to help participants successfully transition back home. This includes check-ins, counselling, and guidance during the challenging adjustment period.


Through investigating records and reports, this article aimed to determine the truth behind concerns at Trails Carolina. While past issues sadly resulted in tragedies, the program has since implemented major reforms. Trails Carolina now follows stringent safety protocols used by trusted wilderness therapy programs. Our analysis found that training, supervision, equipment and emergency response procedures have vastly improved compared to the investigation findings. The commitment to participants’ physical and emotional well-being is clear through updated policies and regulations. Trails Carolina appears dedicated to providing a secure therapeutic environment through industry-leading best practices. This new transparency helps dispel rumours about what the program represents. With verified safety enhancements, Trails Carolina can now focus fully on helping troubled youth grow through the proven healing power of wilderness adventure. Please visit or speak with an advisor to learn more about their services.