Golden Trout Wilderness School

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” —John Muir

The Thacher School has operated Golden Trout Wilderness School for over 50 years, connecting thousands of students, alumni, families, and other visitors with the ancient Foxtail pines, endangered Sierra Bighorn Sheep, and a wide range of other unique flora and fauna that make up the beautiful alpine ecosystem of the southern Sierra Nevada.

Golden Trout Wilderness School

Golden Trout Wilderness School operates under a Special Use Permit from the Forest Service and provides wilderness education programs throughout the summer months. More than half the programs are grant-funded and dedicated to providing opportunities to underserved and underrepresented populations from throughout California. Other programs offer educational opportunities to the general public. The Golden Trout Alumni Natural History Encampment brings multiple generations of alumni together each summer to rediscover a connection to nature. Fees for any of these programs go toward maintenance of the historic facility and toward providing excellent staff and instructors.

Sophomore Program

For decades, just a few days after arriving on campus, sophomore students found themselves on the trail to Golden Trout. Recent permitting issues with the Forest Service have migrated this program to the coastal islands for the time being, but a return to the Sierra is imminent.

New Faculty Training

Faculty members at Thacher wear many hats, including backcountry guide. Those who are new to the School participate in their own wilderness orientation at Golden Trout Wilderness School before students arrive for the academic year. During this week-long program, they hone wilderness safety and survival skills, as well as strategies to help students thrive and reach their maximum potential as they navigate the wilds. They’re also introduced to a wide-ranging mix of school traditions, from The Banquet Song to the reading of The Chambered Nautilus.

Summer Work for Students

Some students from Thacher and other schools come to the Southern Sierra Nevada for summer work at Golden Trout Wilderness School. The full schedule of groups and workshops hosted at GTWS throughout the summer keeps them busy on maintenance and upkeep projects at the camp and packing the school’s team of donkeys to and from the trailhead in support of the various programs.

More Info

For more details about what’s on offer this summer, please visit
Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.