Welcome to the Center for Outdoor Studies

Emory & Henry is an outdoor college, and this means that outdoor recreation and education is available to all E&H students. The Center for Outdoor Studies provides extra-curricular outdoor recreation activities on a weekly basis. In addition, students may enroll in two academic programs: The Semester-A-Trail and the Applied Risk Management and Backcountry Leadership concentration.

Our Mission

Within a culture of responsible risk assessment and mitigation, the Center for Outdoor Studies provides quality outdoor education and adventure-based programming to the Emory & Henry Community. The Center for Outdoor Studies affirms the institution’s commitment to celebrating and connecting students to Southwest Virginia and the greater region of Southern Appalachia.

You Belong in the Backcountry

The outdoors are for everyone. The Center for Outdoor Studies offers a wide variety of programming, tailoring to both beginners and avid adventurers. Whether you’re looking to have a fun off—campus experience or take classes in preparation for a career in the industry, we are here to help. All are welcome!

Get Involved

Come hike, paddle, or climb with us! As a student, you will be invited on most program trips via email. Some trips include: biking the Creeper Trail, hiking Mt. Rogers, rafting the French Broad, bouldering in the Grayson Highlands, the annual Cold Dip, and more. Most trips are of no additional cost to students. Looking for more? If you are looking to work through a progression of skills, our new academic program or Semester-A-Trail could be for you.

New Academic Program

Designed for minimal or vast experience in the outdoors, this new program brings the backcountry to the classroom and vice versa. Earn college credit while exploring concepts such as leadership, group dynamics, outdoor ethics, and the hard skills required for hiking, climbing, or paddling. The coursework culminates to form the Applied Risk Management and Backcountry Leadership Concentration. The concentration serves to prepare students for a career in the outdoor industry or a continued passion for their chosen adventure sport. 


Emory & Henry is the only college in the nation that offers students the opportunity to earn college credit while attempting a long section or thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.