Outdoor Experience

Ascend Wilderness Experience has been providing Trinity County youth with outdoor experiences at no cost for 20 years. It all started with the youth backpacking program, which guides groups ages 9-18 into the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area for five day overnight wilderness experiences. Since the launch of that flagship program, Ascend has offered a variety of outdoor opportunities, such as day hikes, after school programs, and rafting trips. Ascend has grown and learned over our years in operation and we now offer day and overnight trips to not only youth participants, but adults as well. Ascend believes in the transformative power of immersive wilderness experiences and is thrilled to be able to create fun, safe and meaningful opportunities for everyone.

Through the years we have become fluent at equipping youth and adults with everything they need to not only thrive in the backcountry, but also to use the wilderness as a catalyst for connecting to ourselves, our companions, and our place on this planet in a deeper, more meaningful way. We provide all gear, food, transportation, and trained guides at no cost. Why? Because it is important to spend time in nature. Now more than ever with our dependence on technology it is important to unplug and reconnect with these fundamental aspects of nature. No hiking boots? No worries. Ascend has an extensive gear shed that will outfit your child with all the equipment they’ll need to feel comfortable and safe in the wilderness.

Outdoor Education

In all Ascend excursions, a strong educational component enhances participant understanding of the world around them. Our hikers learn about the formation of the natural landscape, local plants (i.e. names, qualities) and wildlife, backcountry ethics such as Leave No Trace and the inter-connectedness of the land, the weather, plants, animals and people. Ascend programs also teach backcountry cooking and nutrition, as well as many other practical skills such as hanging food, setting up a tent, purifying water, making a fire, and reading a topographical map. All of these important life skills help our participants build confidence with outdoor skills that can serve them throughout their lives.


Ascend incorporates a strong component of volunteerism and ethos of giving back in its outdoor programming. We collaborate with local Forest Service officials to strategize where and how our participants can make a lasting and meaningful difference in the quality, accessibility, and safety of our local trails. Stewardship is incorporated in every trip that Ascend facilitates. This could mean conducting light stewardship in the form of litter pick-up on day hikes, using loppers to clear brush that is encroaching onto trails, or packing in heavy hand tools with mules and getting certified to use a crosscut saw to clear logs from impeded trails on our stewardship focused outings. Ascend offers a breadth of stewardship opportunities that cater to all levels of participation. During all of these activities, our participants are supported by certified Ascend staff and our Forest Service Wilderness Ranger partners who are experts in Leave no Trace practices and equipment safety. Our hikers leave their wilderness experiences feeling empowered, knowledgable, and more connected to their local wilderness areas.

Lasting Impacts

Through our many years of serving Trinity County youth, we have seen first hand the incredible positive impacts that even one day in wilderness can have on a young person. Placing a group in the wilderness creates a uniquely charged circumstance in which a series of perspective-changing moments are compressed into a short period and young people grow and develop in as short a time as a long weekend.

Ascend staff enhances the already powerful wilderness experience with challenges that promote self-reflection, awareness, frustration tolerance and effective communication.  Ascend staff also assist participants in generalizing the lessons learned to their everyday lives so that they may draw on realizations made in the wilderness, to push past preconceived limitations and come to a greater sense of their capabilities at home, at work, in school and in the local community.