The Sweet Briar Outdoor Program





The Sweet Briar Outdoor Program (SBC Outdoors) strives to create outdoor recreational opportunities that foster personal growth, responsibility, leadership and environmental sensitivity through experiential learning in small group settings. Check out the trail map and all the activities on campus as well as those trips off campus.

The Sweet Briar Outdoor Program strives to:

  • Create opportunities for students to have meaningful interactions among peers, staff and faculty
  • Make meaningful curriculum connections through relevant experiences outside of the classroom
  • Offer programs and activities that encourge morally and ethically responsible behavior, sportsmanship and cooperation
  • Educate students in the value of leisure time through development of lifetime skills, leadership and the practice of wellness
  • Teach value and conservation of the environment through Leave No Trace Wilderness Ethics


Every Wednesday, come Indoor Rock Climbing or Kayaking in the pool with us!

Indoor Rock Climbing: 


Rise Up Climbing Gym offers several routes that cater to everyone from beginner to advanced. Come and build your skills as you challenge yourself to the next level. Want to try a different challenge? Rise Up also has several bouldering walls. The Outdoor Program instructors are there to teach, encourage, and guide you as you climb on. There isn't a mandatory informational meeting for this trip, but there is a refundable $5 fee to hold your place on the trip, which will be returned to you when you show up for the trip.


Kayaking Pool Sessions: 


Whether you are interested in kayaking for the first time or perfecting your hand roll, this is the place for you! Bring a swimsuit or clothes that can get wet. The Outdoor Program will provide you with all the necessary gear. Just show up to the pool at 7:30 and get ready to have fun!


Here are some of our unique trips this Spring! 

Skiing and Snowboarding: 

Want to ski or snowboard up at Wintergreen?! Never been before?! No problem!! The Outdoor Program can rent you gear, the price is $35 and it will include your lift ticket, rentals and a beginner lesson! Sounds sweet, right? Okay, so the first step is, you need to swing by the office and sign up. BRING MONEY AND PAY TO RESERVE YOUR SEAT. Since we only have a limited number of vans, it’s very much first-come, first-served. Second step: You need to attend the mandatory informational meeting. Third step: Show up in the office, ready to go, at 3 p.m. on Friday! We get to the mountain around 4:30 p.m. and stay until 10 p.m. Expect to be back by midnight on Friday. If for some reason you can't make the information meeting, let us know and we can work something out. Hope to see you there!


Snow Tubing:

Remember when a snow day really meant getting to sled all day? Channel your inner child and come tubing with us at Wintergreen! You will get to sit in a giant tube and go down Wintergreen's tubing slopes for hours, and the best part is that you don't have to walk back up the hill! Don't forget to sign up in the Outdoor Program office and attend the Mandatory Informational Meeting!

Winter Hike:

For this unique winter trip, we always hope for snowy weather! This trip is dependent on enough snow to shut down the Parkway — when the Parkway is closed, we get to have an awesome, snowy and social hike! Joe Malloy leads the trip with his dogs and there is plenty of room to spread out and get to know everyone on the hike!

This trip will fill up fast, so make sure to stop by the Outdoor Program Office and deposit $5 to save your spot! And don't forget about the Mandatory Informational Meeting!


Indoor Rock Climbing Competition at JMU:

Join Sweet Briar Outdoors for a rock climbing competition at James Madison University on Feb. 21! This will be a top roping competition. All climbers are welcome. Learn more about climbing, learn from experienced climbers, and meet some really cool people along the way. Sign up now in the OP office! Come to any Indoor Rock Climbing nights on Wednesdays to find out more about this awesome opportunity!


Investigating Spirit in Nature:

This trip, which is open to people of all religious, spiritual and belief backgrounds, will be an opportunity to spend time in nature enjoying and exploring all it has to offer. We will learn about how some religious and spiritual groups view and celebrate nature, but the main focus of this trip will be to spend time outdoors individually, and expressing our thoughts and ideas as a group. We will be staying in a cabin at a park that offers many different levels of hiking trails. This is one of our less "rugged" or "intense" trips, so it will be accessible to all students. The Mandatory Informational Meeting for this trip is (TBA).


Kayaking and Canoeing River Trips:

We will head to the James River and canoe and kayak the white water. You must be canoe-certified in order to canoe on the trip, and you must attend at least one kayaking clinic in order to attend the kayaking trip. Sign up in the Outdoor Program Office today and find out about the Mandatory Informational Meeting.



The Outdoor Program is headed to Grayson Highlands for a beginner backpacking trip the weekend of (TBA). We’ll summit the highest mountain in Virginia, Mount Rogers, cook amazing food together, and maybe stumble upon wild ponies. Join us for a visit to one of Virginia’s most beautiful places. We will hold a mandatory informational meeting in the Outdoor Program office.


Fly Fishing:

Come join the Outdoor Program as we head to The Cascades in the beautiful mountains around The Homestead for fly-fishing! There are beginner lessons for those who have never fly-fished before, but those who are experienced can head straight to the stream. We will enjoy our lunch by the stream, check out the falls, enjoy the mountain air, and maybe even see a river otter as we cast out our lines.

Bring your swim suits because afterwards we’ll drive to the Jefferson Pools, a hot spring where Thomas Jefferson would go to relax. Who could ask for a more relaxing day?

The trip includes your day fishing license, gear, the Fly Fishing Clinic for Beginners, and Jefferson Pool admittance, plus transportation. Lunch is provided by Prothro.


Hang Gliding:

Come have a world-class experience as you glide over the massive sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. The instructors at Kitty Hawk Kites will walk you through ground school and pre-flight check before letting you take off into the wind. Join the Outdoor Program for two nights of camping in tents with shower/bathroom access and one day of awesome hang gliding.


Natural History Hike:

The OP Natural History Hike Trip will allow participants to get up close with nature and study some aspects of natural history hands on. Dr. Fink will be coming along to provide us with some expert knowledge and facilitate learning about the organisms we encounter. We will bring large fish/butterfly nets and containers with us to hold and observe the creatures we catch, and possibly some field guides for students to flip through and identify species.This trip is a great opportunity for biology and environmental students, or anyone who has interest and enthusiasm for the natural world, to get off campus and have an enjoyable outdoor experience while learning more about specific organisms in a fun and educational setting without being graded. Students will hopefully return from this hike feeling more connected to nature.


Outdoor Rock Climbing:


What’s better than indoor climbing? Outdoor Climbing! Come with us to Goshen Pass next to the Maury River, where we will be setting up climbs for every skill level to enjoy. We will be setting up on rocks that have a beginners’ 5.5-climb to a complicated 5.9-climb. For those who are interested, there will be a trip to the top for you to see how our ropes are set up and a gorgeous view of the valley. The food is good, the company is great, and the climbs are better. There’s nothing like getting in touch with nature by climbing on some rocks!



Reflective Retreat: 




1. A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security.
a. A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.
b. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study

This trip began as a day hike, then turned into an overnight hike, and each year participants have asked for more! This year, join John Casteen, creative writing professor, and Outdoor Program instructors on a three-day, two-night retreat in Shenandoah National Park. We will be staying in a beautiful cabin nestled in the woods where we'll make stew together and spend our days hiking, connecting to place, reflecting and writing. This trip is open to writers and non-writers. Don't miss out, the trip fills up fast, so make sure you reserve your spot by signing up in the Outdoor Program office and attending the Mandatory Informational Meeting!




Wanna channel your Indiana Jones? Come caving with us and explore the depths of the earth. Outdoor Program instructors, with the help of an experienced caver, will lead participants into and through the depths of the earth. We wil explore cave formations, ecology and maybe even get a close look at a bat! Absolutely no experience is necessary for this beginner trip. Just a sense of adventure. Make sure you sign up in the Outdoor Program office and attend the Mandatory Informational Meeting!


Outing Cabin Certification:

Want to get away for the weekend, but don't have a car?? Hike to the Outing Cabin! Once you are certified by the Outdoor Program, you will be able to rent the cabin any time and get away for however long you need! Take a friend with you or spend some alone time in nature! 


Trail Nut 10k Race:

The race is in one of Bedford’s little known treasures. It is a family park, with a playground, pavilions, paved path, Frisbee golf, fitness circuit, shuffle board, bird watching trails, mountain bike trails, and pump track. It is loaded with over 9 miles of intermediate rolling, twisty, single track in a beautiful wooded setting. It isn’t uncommon to see wildlife during one of your trips to the park (turtles, raccoons, rabbits, ground hogs, the occasional skunk, and deer). Join the Outdoor Program as we run this 10k (6.2 miles). Sign up today in the office.


Go to our Trip Schedule in order to check out all of our trips and their dates!