Summer Events FAQ
What Wilderness Trail is. Wilderness Trail is a backpacking ministry. That means that our primary focus is ministry, and we use backpacking as a tool to accomplish that. Backpacking is overnight hiking, carrying everything you need in a pack. It means setting up a different camp every night and then hiking to a new camp the following day.
No Experience Necessary. You don't need to know anything about backpacking in order to participate in Wilderness Trail; we provide everything and instruct in all areas. If you (and/or your youth) are out of shape and have never even seen a mountain before, you can do it. We promise. If you're an avid backpacker, you won't be disappointed. The routes we choose are designed to be challenging but possible for all of our wide range of participants.
Who Can Participate. Youth ages 12 and up are eligible to participate. Rising seventh graders through college students are welcome on our Summer Events. We accept registrations from groups (youth groups, children's homes, etc.) and individuals. Rising 9th graders and up (14 and older) may participate as individuals (for example, arriving without an organized group and dropped off by Mom or Dad). Ages 12 to 13 must have an adult chaperone in order to participate.
The Schedule of a Summer Event. A Wilderness Trail Summer Event is 8 days long. Besides playing in the rain, overcoming challenges, learning about God, and experiencing the Body of Christ, here's what happens in a week's time:
We begin with a two-day retreat at our Property. Participants arrive between 3 and 5pm on the first day of the event. We spend the next 36 hours getting prepared to go backpacking. That includes things like playing games, dividing into our small hiking groups, working on group building, handing out equipment, getting our trail food, worshiping, and learning about the "dos" and "don'ts" of hiking - what we call "Trail Etiquette".
The following five days are spent on trail. We wake up early on our third day together to pack up, eat breakfast, and be at the trailhead by:00 (if not earlier). During the four full days on trail, groups will hike an average of 10 miles and eat lunch somewhere along the way. Once at camp, hikers set up tents, rest, gather firewood, help pump water, and play. After dinner together, the group gathers for campfire and some W.T. traditions such as "Little Foxes" and "Holy Grounds," as well as a devotion or discussion. The exact schedule and activities on trail are determined in part by the Staff and individuals in each group, which is part of what makes Wilderness Trail an experience worth repeating.
We close our week with a day back at the Property. Hiking groups are picked up between 8am and 11am on their 5th day of backpacking. After returning their equipment, they take a much needed shower and then we enjoy a nice, big lunch as a large group. During the afternoon we meet in our hiking groups, play wiffle ball, and have free time before the closing activities after dinner. The following morning, hikers are free to wake up and leave (or get picked up) as early as they like, but no later than 9am. A continental breakfast is offered (no matter how early).
Registration Fees. Each Summer Event costs $280/person. That price includes almost everything you need, such as: backpacking equipment (tent, pack, etc.); all meals and some snacks for the full week; staffing; full programming; and 3 souvenirs from the week. Need-based scholarships are available; complete and return an application to be considered.
Our "Base Camp" - The W.T. Property. Each hike begins and ends at the W.T. Property. Each Summer Event begins and ends at our 60+ acres in Troutdale, VA - affectionately known as "the Property" among our ministry family. Hikers gather for meals, worship, games, and fellowship at our lodge. Six sleeping shelters and one Adirondak offer rustic accommodations. The "Group Building Course" provides opportunities for each hiking group to work together. Each week, we worship and have communion at our outdoor chapel. Horseshoe pits, a basketball court, volleyball court, four square, and rocking chairs on the porch of our lodge provide entertainment during free time. The infamous Weaver Field is the best wiffle ball field this side of the Mississippi. Staff housing, an equipment shed, and a bathhouse round out our facilities. You can visit our "Location" page for a better lay of the land.
Where we go Backpacking. We're lucky enough to hike in the mountains of southwest Virginia. This area, referred to as the "Montana of the east," witnesses to the love and power of our Creator before we even say a word. Our hikers spend the majority of their journeys on the Appalachian Trail, a national footpath that runs from Georgia to Maine. We are located just minutes from many access points to this 2,175-mile, internationally known trail. We also travel on the Iron Mountain, Pine Mountain, and Feathcamp Trails, among others. Most hiking groups will summit Whitetop Mountain, the 2nd highest peak in Virginia, and walk in the shadow of Mt. Rogers, the state's highest point. Places like Grayson Highlands State Park, the Virginia Creeper Trail, Elk Garden, and Rhododendron Gap are other well-loved stops along the way. It's likely to see deer, wild ponies, free ranging cows, crawdads, and more. We're fortunate to have a very small bear population in the area; it's possible to hike for years and never see one.