North Carolina | Backpacking | Teen Leadership Expedition

Discover North Carolina’s mountains, as you explore the wilderness on a summer backpacking expedition!

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 technical skills to travel & explore remote destinations in wild North Carolina!

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7 days

Course Information

Adventure First

During this 7-day North Carolina backpacking adventure, you’ll find yourself exploring North Carolina's remote wilderness.

Explore some of America’s most historic terrain – the majestic Blue Ridge mountains. Travel along cold-mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and mountain passes, as you explore the Pisgah National Forest!

This 7-day backpacking teen adventure course is designed specifically to build sustainable lifelong leadership traits while simultaneously teaching you how to master outdoor survival skills. During this 7-day overnight camping expedition you’ll experience a one-of-kind excursion highlighted by hiking and backpacking through the gorgeous outdoor terrain of North Carolina. This wilderness leadership adventure is specially designed for teens, as NOCAE teaches lifelong skills that will resonate you beyond anything you can learn in a classroom.

During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your backpacking skills, as you travel through the Appalachian mountain range, exploring rocky ridges and breathtaking mountain vistas. You may even get the chance to apply your new skills in the last few days of the course with a “graduation climb” up a mountain peak.


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  • Duration: 7 days
  • Minimum Age: 13
  • Tuition: $1,385.00
  • Credit Hours: 0.5

Education Always

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Awareness certification
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Advanced Backpacking skills
  • Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads

Itinerary Highlights

  • NCOAE core curriculum
  • LNT Awareness training
  • Gain experience in expedition planning, wilderness risk management, environmental studies, backcountry navigation, outdoor leadership, and more!

Why Take This Course

  • Develop Backpacking skills
  • Explore the Appalachian mountain range
  • Challenge yourself in new and rewarding ways
  • Gain the skills necessary to explore the wilderness
  • Advance your knowledge of outdoor skills, leadership skills, environmental science, and more

Where You’ll Be

  • Pisgah National Forest
  • The Art Loeb Trail
  • Black Balsam Knob
What is the 7-day North Carolina - Teen Backpacking Adventure?

The North Carolina – Teen Backpacking Adventure is a multi-day wilderness adventure during which you’ll participate in backpacking and camping activities – while learning how to travel in the backcountry.

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, Black Balsam, and the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. Along the way, you’ll explore the rugged ridges of these mountain areas as you practice the basics of camp setup, backpacking, and other outdoor skills.

How far will I be hiking?

You and your group will travel more than 20 miles across mountains, cool mountain streams, and cascading waterfalls, practicing backpacking skills needed to explore rugged, remote areas around the world!

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 7-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 summer to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also explore North Carolina or the Pacific Northwest on other Teen Leadership Expeditions.

What do I need to do to physically 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 30 and 40 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?

Students enrolled in this course are 13-14 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 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. Students should bring a small amount of spending money for personal items; such as 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

Learning achieved through NCOAE’s 7-day Mountain Expedition may be eligible for high school credits through Blueprint Education, an accredited distance learning school for grades seven through 12 with a mission of inspiring students to make better choices and be champions of their own learning.

Academic Course Hours and Credits

The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) curriculum maintains and exceeds U.S. high school standards for seat-time. Students may be eligible for the following high school credits:

  • Physical Education: Achieved through learning and showing proficiency in mountaineering, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, standup paddle boarding, alpine, and/or backpacking activities.
  • Outdoor Leadership: Achieved through learning and showing proficiency in interpersonal development, small group dynamics, critical thinking, and decision making.
  • Environmental Studies: Achieved through learning about and showing proficiency in water conservation, astronomy, environmental sustainability, Leave No Trace (LNT), cycle of rain clouds, and oceanography.

In our beautiful home state, you’ll acquire self and group assessment and management skills.  This 7-day course will additionally expose you to a unique variety of environmental settings, as you backpack, camp, 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 7-day North Carolina – Backpacking expedition is the affordable adventure option if you are seeking extraordinary outdoor skill development, including: wilderness risk management, backpacking, 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 7-day North Carolina - Teen Backpacking Adventure is only offered through NCOAE.

Available Dates
June 10 — June 16, 2022