Nurturing the Next Generation of Empowered and Self
Confident Girls Through Outdoor Adventure
Mission & Vision
For girls and young women, The Cairn Project expands outdoor access by supporting community-based wilderness and outdoor education groups around the country through a small grants program. For women, we’re bringing together a community that is inspired to catalyze outdoor passion into a force for good, share learning and stories, and raise the profile of women and girls in outdoor adventure.
We met in Boulder, Colorado, but our friendship has taken us on adventures near and far: the deserts of the American Southwest, the coast of North Africa, the mountains of the Continental Divide, and many places in between. While our jobs have taken us to different home-bases, we’ve maintained an enduring bond over a shared preoccupation with exploring all mountains, everywhere.
As we’ve cooked up an ever expanding Girls’ Trip Bucket List, one adventure has always been near the top: hiking the John Muir Trail. In 2015 we decided it was finally time to go for it; we would thru-hike the JMT. The planning and gear list commenced.
Pouring over topo maps of the JMT during a trip to Utah, we realized we could make this hike in the Sierra even more fulfilling. We could use it as an opportunity to share our passion with a wider community, and help ignite an ardor for the outdoors in the next generation of young women. With that, The Cairn Project was born.
INAUGURAL FUNDRAISER: JOHN MUIR TRAIL
Hiking to Expand Outdoor Access for Young Women
To launch The Cairn Project, our founders embarked on a hike of the John Muir Trail to raise awareness and support for our mission. We raised more than $20,000 to support programs that get young women outside.
THE HIKE: JOHN MUIR TRAIL
Named for one of America's best loved wilderness explorers, the JMT is a long distance hiking route that follows the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. From its northern terminus in Yosemite Valley, it passes through several Wilderness Areas, Devils Postpile National Monument, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The JMT ends at the summit of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48 (14,505 ft).Read More
Our founders Sarah Castle and Alison Wright planned their hike to be as physically testing as it is awe-inspiring. After traversing some of the most striking terrain the USA has to offer, completing the John Muir Trail was an achievement and an honor in equal measure.
Hiking for Good
The JMT fundraiser supported our first grants in Alaska, California, Colorado, and Montana.
This first “get out, give back” event for so much more - check out what our growing community of fundraisers is up to!
The goal underpinning The Cairn Project is to help foster our future leaders and stewards. We both know from personal experience that outdoor exploration can be truly transformative for young women – seeding self-esteem, inner strength, and the tenacity to embrace the unexpected.
We hope you’ll join us in building The Cairn Project’s community.
Alison Wright, Founder
Sarah Castle, Founder