Matthew Blackburn, Executive Director


Matthew works out of Waynesville, NC year-round.  As the Executive Director, he handles all programming events, fundraising, development, and administration. Typically our Waynesville Office hours are 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday, although these hours change depending on our events and Matthew's travel schedule. 

 A Note From Matthew . . .

"I have had the great fortune of growing up in the Wilderness Trail ministry. Starting at the age of three I was placed in the care of L.B. Izzi’s legendary patience as my parents brought my siblings and I on the scouting trips to find the next Wilderness Trail hike. I remember riding in the back seat of our old bronco as my mom, Sarah Blackburn, made support runs all day, and watched her pass out more than pop tarts, placing anxious hikers at ease with her caring manner.  I watched as Wilderness Trail moved from retreat center to retreat center until we found the Property.  I still remember hearing my dad, Rob Blackburn, giving the first talk up at the chapel, pointing at the journey ahead and preparing our hearts for the week. Being a son of a Methodist minister, our family moved around a lot. Wilderness Trail became our consistent church family and this is evident in my life, as many of my close friends and heroes come from Wilderness Trail. I even loved the food so much I recently married a former kitchen staff, Sarah Jane (we eat chicken pot pie once a week).
I remember this feeling as I began to junior staff for Wilderness Trail as a teenager.  Even as a young person I began to see Wilderness Trail as not just a place that I would go to in the summer but a place where I would grow. As a junior staff I was eager to give back to a ministry which showed patience with me on the trail, showed love to me by quietly lightening my load, and taught me joy by turning a rainy day into a blissful memory. The excitement which I felt in the transition from a hiker to a junior staff remained as I transitioned from a junior staff to hiking staff and filled a position of leadership which I had looked up to through my adolescence. But what has solidified my appreciation for Wilderness Trail has been my time off the mountain top. I have seen the lessons learned in the mountains of Virginia translate into success in my life, my career, and more importantly in motivating me to share my gifts with my community. I have seen many friends of Wilderness Trail grow to become great men and women and with servants’ hearts, who have become leaders in their communities and living examples of God’s love."