North Carolina | Rock Climbing & Backpacking | Adult Leadership Expedition

Discover all North Carolina has to offer, as you rock climb & backpack through the Pisgah National Forest on this 14-day adventure.

Questions? Call NCOAE Support (910) 399-8090


At the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we know adventure. Immerse yourself in outdoor adventure,  while learning the skills to travel & explore remote destinations!

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14 days

Course Information

Adventure First

During this 14-day North Carolina rock climbing  & backpacking course, you’ll find yourself exploring North Carolina while you climb and hike.

North Carolina offers the perfect setting for a backcountry, wilderness adventure. Explore the Grand Canyon of North Carolina, Linville Gorge, one of only two wilderness gorges in the Southern U.S. and summit Black Balsam Knob, a 6,240-foot peak in the Pisgah National Forest.

During this 14-day North Carolina backpacking & rock climbing  course, you’ll find yourself exploring North Carolina while you climb and hike. Starting on our North Carolina-based campus, you’ll spend powerful days learning and exploring in NCOAE’s backyard, with all of our resources at our fingertips.

NCOAE is excited to offer this one-of-a-kind outdoor education program specifically designed to build natural survival skills through outdoor activities such as rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, camping and wilderness trekking during this 14-day expedition through beautiful North Carolina.

Trek through a variety of remote areas in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, which may include the Pisgah National Forest, the 30-mile-long Art Loeb Trail, Cedar Rock, Stone Depot, Lower West Rights, and the Shining Rock Wilderness Area.

Much of your time will be spent mastering skills required to explore these mountain areas, including learning the basics of camp set-up, rock climbing, backpacking and other technical outdoor skills.

During every other moment, you’ll be learning, sharpening, and practicing the skills to plan and lead adventure-based experiential education trips.

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  • Duration: 14 days
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Tuition: $2,985.00
  • Credit Hours: 3

Education Always

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Awareness certification
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Rock Climbing skills
  • Advanced backpacking skills
  • Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
  • Teaching-level knowledge of the NCOAE
  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads

Itinerary Highlights

  • Join us in our backyard as we explore the Appalachian Mountains & the Pisgah National Forest
  • Explore the Shining Rock wilderness area, developing skills in backpacking and climbing.
  • Gain experience in backcountry travel planning, wilderness risk management, campsite selection, backcountry navigation, and more

Why Take This Course

  • Develop essential wilderness knowledge and skills — while living and learning in North Carolina’s wild, beautiful places.
  • Immerse yourself in a wonderland of densely forested hills, cool mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and stunning rock formations.
  • Acquire the outdoor skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!

Where You’ll Be

  • Pisgah National Forest
  • Shining Rock Wilderness
  • Black Balsam Knob
  • Carolina Beach, NC
What is the North Carolina 14-day Adult Leadership Expedition?

Explore the wilderness on a 14-day backpacking & rock climbing adventure.  You’ll visit a variety of remote areas in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, such as the Pisgah National Forest, the 30-mile-long Art Loeb Trail, Cedar Rock, Stone Depot, Lower West Rights, and the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Along the way, you’ll explore these mountain areas as you practice the basics of camp setup, rock climbing, backpacking, and other outdoor skills.

Where will we be staying?

We’ll be living in tents and enjoying our evenings in different areas most nights, identifying the stars and sharing highlights of our learning.

Is the 14-day course offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer this course in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the year to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can explore Patagonia, Alaska, or the Pacific Northwest at various times of the year.

What level of experience do I need to take this course?

No prerequisites are required. Throughout the course, you will acquire the knowledge and skills required to complete the course and to navigate and thrive in the wilderness and in life in general.

Who should take this course?

This course is best suited to those who want to challenge themselves in rugged, backcountry conditions.

How different is the 14-day course, compared to the Outdoor Educator and Semester courses?

If you’re looking for a longer course in North Carolina with more time for additional exploration and adventure, we suggest you consider joining us for an 25-day or Gap Year / Semester course.  You’ll go even more in-depth, combining the highlights of local topography, geography, and culture with our exceptional Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course.

What do I need to do physically to prepare for this course?

You do not need to be an “Ironman” to participate in this course. That said, you will be required to carry your own pack, with your own gear and some group gear. Your pack will weigh between 40 and 50 pounds at any given time. You will be hiking over rugged terrain, crossing rivers, and climbing rugged ridges.

What is the average group size and instructor/student ratio?

Each group has two or three instructors and eight to 12 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every six students.

What are the minimum and average ages of participants?

The age range for this course is 18-23 years old.

What gear and equipment do I need?

NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the course pack list.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for in North Carolina?

Your tuition with NCOAE covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts

What kind of food will I be eating?

Since we will be carrying all of our food on our backs, we’ll be eating many of the items that begin in their dehydrated forms; water weight is not something we want to carry. Expect meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and even fresh baked bread and pizza! Of course, you’ll be making them all from scratch — learning to cook backcountry gourmet on the trail.

Academic Credit

Your work during the 14-day Adult Leadership Expedition course may eligible for up to three college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

If you are interested in earning additional academic credit for a course, learn more about our Gap Year / Semester courses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits.

Course Outcomes

In our beautiful home state, you’ll acquire self and group assessment and management skills.  This 14-day course will additionally expose you to a unique variety of environmental settings, as you backpack and rock climbing, explore mountains and rivers, and encounter remote flora, fauna, and landscapes.

Where do you want to go (physically, mentally, socially, academic, etc.)?

This course will prepare you with the self-reliance and skill necessary to travel in remote locations. You will learn effectual communication skills, understand the importance of making positive personal choices for your life, and help you understand how to become an influential member of your community.

How will NCOAE help you get there?

The 14-day North Carolina – Backpacking & Rock Climbing course is the affordable adventure option if you are seeking extraordinary outdoor skill development, including: wilderness risk management, backpacking, climbing, backcountry cooking and living, and expedition planning.

Best of all, you’ll advance your opportunities — to travel in the wilderness, and to affect positive changes in the world.

Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

This North Carolina Rock Climbing & Backpacking course is only offered through NCOAE, which is why we’re excited to offer it in our home state.

Available Dates
June 01 — June 14, 2022