About The Cairn Project

What is The Cairn Project?

We nurture the next generation of empowered and self-confident girls through outdoor adventure.

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.

The Gender Gap Outside

Girls are 16% less likely to go outside for free play in preschool. 

20% fewer young women ages 6-24 participate in outdoor activities. 

By the age of 60, women are 35% less likely to do outdoor activities.

Despite all of the benefits of outdoor learning and adventure, girls and women continue to experience barriers to access and equal participation in outdoor pursuits. This trend starts as early as preschool and becomes more pronounced throughout adolescence and early adulthood.

We believe everyone belongs outside.

Our grantmaking program supports organizations around the country that are offering young women the opportunity to learn and grow through outdoor adventure. Our funding helps to expand scholarship access for underserved girls+ and helps these mission-driven organizations deepen their community impact.

Our volunteer Trailblazer and community programs offer the chance to gather – virtually and in person – with others who share a love of adventure, growth, and connections to the land. We believe adventure can be a force for good, and we want to see more women and girls outside.

Our Story

Founders Alison Wright and Sarah Castle transformed an 11-day thru-hike of the John Muir Trail into a crowdfunding campaign that launched The Cairn Project in 2016.

We’ve grown a lot since that start in the California Sierra, channeling more than $300K in funding to grantees around the country and building a team committed to the cause of “More Girls+ Outside.”

A group of girls stands in a line in front of a rock climbing gym's rock wall flexing their arms

The Cairn Project In the Media

Check out our latest features.

Wilder Magazine

The Cairn Project: Creative Magic in the Outdoors

The Hike Podcast

Hiker Wisdom to Explore, Wander and Live by

Wilder Magazine

Wild Ideas in the Superstition Mountains