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Trip Suggestion

These trip options are only suggestions. Feel free to craft your own trip options that best fits your ability, schedule and interests. All of these trips can be altered, lengthened or made shorter. Enjoy your French Broad River Paddle Trail℠! Any of the campsites can be a great one night camping option. Just find an access point up and downstream that suits the distance you want to paddle and enjoy.

1 Night Trips

Short and Beautiful trip – Evan’s Island

Difficulty

Moderate - Multiple small class II rapids

Distance:

Redmond Dam to Evan’s Island – 1.75 miles
Evan’s Island to Barnard – 3 miles

Description:

Float through the beautiful wooded gorge between Marshall and Barnard. You will camp on Evan’s Island with our friendly goats, Rose and Sophia. This section is a mix of flat moving water and some small class 2 shoals. The total distance is about 5.5 miles, making it a great option for a late start and a short second day. You can continue downstream, but the rapids become much larger and more frequent after the Barnard take out.

The Swift Asheville Sampler – Firefighter Island

Difficulty

Easy

Distance:

Westfeldt to Firefighter Island – 7 miles
Firefighter Island to Bent Creek – 1.5 miles
Firefighter Island to Hominy Creek – 8 miles
Firefighter Island to the Bywater – 14.5 miles

Description:

Put in at the Westfeldt Park ramp for a seven-mile float to the island or put in at Glen Bridge River Park for a three-mile float. The paddle will take you down the long shoals of the French Broad River before you veer away from the interstate and camp at a quaint secluded feeling island. The next day you float 1.5 miles to take out at Bent Creek, 8.5 miles and take out at Hominy Creek or 14.5 miles and finish with a drink at the Bywater Bar. You will catch a view of the Biltmore Estate house as you cut through the middle of the property. This is a nice scenic float and one of the more popular stretches of the French Broad to paddle. Look for Firefighter Island on river left about a mile past the Long Shoals Road Bridge. At low water on the left side of the island and access the island from the sand bar on the downstream end of the island. At higher water you go either way around the island to reach the bottom of the island, where taking out is the easiest.

2 Night Trips

Brewery Trip 2 Day

Difficulty

Easy

Day 1:

Start at Lazy Otter Outfitters on Banner Farm Road. Paddle about 6.5 miles to Westfeldt Park. Walk about 1 mile to Sierra Nevada brewery. Put back on the river and paddle about 5.5 miles through the Long Shoals of the river to Firefighter Island.  **Note, Sierra Nevada river access is only sometimes open to the public.  It’s usually on weekends in the summer, but we recommend that you call beforehand: (828) 681-5300

 

Day 2:

Paddle through the Biltmore Estate, catch a glimpse of the Biltmore House on your way to New Belgium Brewery. Take out at the Craven Street Access, right across the river from New Belgium Brewery. Walk across the Craven Street Bridge to the brewery and end you trip at their new tasting room with a tasty beverage.

Discovering the Headwaters – Headwater’s Outfitters to Headwaters Campsite to Riverbend to Blantyre

Difficulty

Easy

Distance:

Headwaters Outfitters to Headwaters Campsite – 8.5 miles
Headwaters Camp to Riverbend – 16 miles
Riverbend to Blantyre – 9.5 miles

Description:

Start where the French Broad forms at the North and West Forks of the river. Meander under tree canopy as you wind your way past Middle and East forks of the French Broad River toward a very nice campground (just past the Green Road bridge on the right), maintained by Headwaters Outfitters (to make a reservation contact Headwaters Outfitters). Day two takes you through farms, past the town of Brevard to your eventual stopping point at Riverbend Campsite. Watch the transition from cold narrow headwaters to a wider meandering river bed. This two-night trip takes you through the town of Brevard.

Middle Endurance Day – Pisgah Access to Little River to Mud Creek to Bent Creek River Park

Difficulty

Easy

*watch for downed trees across the river that can become obstacles

Distance:

Pisgah Access to Little River – 5 miles

Description:

Pass by the famous trout fishery of the Davidson River and through the area of the French Broad River famous for muskie fishing. Spend your first night camping at the confluence of the Little River and the French Broad on a shady peninsula. Test your endurance on a long second day as you paddle around Horseshoe Bend and see the French Broad widen as it takes on the Mills River and Mud Creek, as you arrive at your campsite. Reward yourself by relaxing around the campfire at the Mud Creek campsite, and don’t forget to try out the tree-house toilet. Finish the trip near Bent Creek recreational area and add on a bit of mountain biking.

Super chill – Hap Simpson Park to Riverbend to Little River to Blantyre

Difficulty

Easy

*watch for downed trees across the river that can become obstacles

Distance:

Hap Simpson to Riverbend – 5 miles
Riverbend to Little River – 6 miles
Little River to Blantyre – 4 miles

Description:

Take your time and enjoy a few short days of paddling after you put in at Hap Simpson Riverfront Park. Meander your way to Riverbend for a nice night of camping in the sunny field or in the shade of the trees. Take your time the next day by swimming, fishing, or relaxing as you pass by the famous trout fishery, the Davidson River, on your way to the Little River campsite, a lovely peninsula at the mouth of the Little River and the French Broad. Finish the next day with an easy float to Blantyre river access.

3 Night Trips

Brewery Trip 3 Day

Difficulty

Easy

Day 1:

Start at Hap Simpson Park in Brevard and paddle 5 miles to the Pisgah Forest Access. Get out and walk across the road and down the Oskar Blues driveway for a tasty beer and possible food truck. Continue downstream another 5 miles to camp at the Little River campsite, or another 12 miles down from Pisgah to Rhodes Ranch Campsite.

 

Day 2:

Put in some miles the next day as you paddle 20 miles (from Little River campsite) or 15.5 miles (from Rhodes Ranch campsite) to Sierra Nevada (Westfeldt Park take out). **Note, Sierra Nevada river access is only sometimes open to the public.  It’s usually on weekends in the summer, but we recommend that you call beforehand: (828) 681-5300  Enjoy the Mecca of breweries, put back on for a 5.5 mile paddle to the Firefighter Island campsite.

 

Day 3:

Paddle about 15 miles through the Biltmore Estate and into the heart of the Asheville river district. Take out at the Craven Street Access, right across the river from New Belgium Brewery. Walk across the Craven Street Bridge to the brewery. End you trip at their new tasting room with a tasty beverage.

Four-Day Getaway – Hap Simpson to Rhodes Ranch to Firefighter Island to Wilson’s RV to Woodfin Park

Difficulty

Easy

Watch for downed trees across the river that can become obstacles in the first part of the trip and you will likely have to dodge some rocks on the last part of the trip.

Distance:

Hap Simpson to Rhodes Ranch – 17 miles
Rhodes Ranch to Firefighter – 20.5 miles
Firefighter to Wilson’s RV – 9.5 miles
Wilson’s RV to Woodfin Park – 8 miles

Description:

With three nights and four days along the river, you can enjoy a variation in sites and river features as you cruise through over 50 miles of water. Start your trip on the narrow tree canopied section of the river and finish with a broad river with great views. You will also get the chance to enjoy a shower on your third night and walk into West Asheville for dinner, if you choose. Pass right through the City of Asheville’s River District on your last day, where you can stop by a brewery or bar and eat great barbecue at 12 Bones (Monday-Friday 11 a.m. -4 p.m). This is a great way to see a long beautiful stretch of river without any rapids or portages.

4-5 Night Trips

Rural to Urban Sampler

Difficulty

Hard - Several class 2and class 2+ in this section

Distance:

Island Ford to Riverbend – 13.5 miles

Riverbend to Rhodes Ranch – 13 miles

Rhodes Ranch to Mud Creek– 12 miles

Mud Creek to Wilson RV – 14 miles

Wilson RV to French Broad River Campground

to Woodfin River Park – 8 miles

or FB Campground is 12.5 miles

French Broad Campground to Walnut Island – 6 miles

Description:

(Several class II and class II+ in this section. One mandatory portage )

The rapids and the portage can both be avoided by making this a four-night trip instead of five. Simply get out at Woodfin River Park, which is 8 miles downstream from Wilson RV on day four.

Whitewater, mountains, and two states

Difficulty

Hard - Multiple Class 2, 3, 4 Rapids

Distance:

Redmond Dam to Evan’s Island – 1.75 miles
Evan’s Island to Hot Springs Campground – 11.5 miles
Hot Springs Campground to Weaver’s Bend – 9 miles
Weaver’s Bend to French Broad Fields – 13 miles
French Fields to Bridgeport Bridge Access –11 miles

Description:

Enjoy one of the most scenic and best small mouth fishing sections of the French Broad. You can avoid the hard rapids by putting in at Hot Springs. After Hot Springs are mostly class II rapids with the Falls (after French Broad Fields) being the only real class III during normal water flow. Start the trip with a short day float to Evan’s Island. Enjoy paddling through the beautiful section of whitewater, crashing over class III and a couple class IV rapids as you make your way to the quaint town of Hot Springs. Stay at the nice campground, walk to dinner or soak in the natural Hot Springs just across the street from the campground. Paddle across the state line the next day and past the very scenic Paint Rock and Chimney Rocks. Weaver’s Bend is accessible by car, so sometimes on the weekends you can get a lot of noisy neighbors. Begin you decent out of the mountains as you head towards French Broad Fields. This campsite is a Forest Service site and is unmarked. Camp in the wooded area along the river. The site is about ½ mile or more on river left, so camp anywhere that look appealing. Paddle your biggest rapid of the day right of the bat the next day and eventually take out at Bridgeport Bridge, the last take out before you get to the slack water of Douglas Lake.

5 Night Trips

Headwaters to Woodfin

Difficulty

Easy

Watch for downed trees across the river that can become obstacles in the first part of the trip and you will likely have to dodge some rocks on the last part of the trip

Distance:

Headwaters Outfitters to Headwaters Outfitters Campsite – 8.5 miles

Headwaters Campsite to Riverbend – 15 miles

Riverbend to Rhodes Ranch – 13 miles

Rhodes Ranch to Mud Creek – 12 miles

Mud Creek to Wilson RV – 14 miles

Wilson RV to Woodfin Park – 8 miles

 

Description:

This trip is a great sampler of the flat water stretches of the French Broad River and is as far as you can paddle on the river without portaging a dam. The river starts at Headwaters Outfitters at mile 0 of the French Broad River and travels for about 75 miles through remote stretches, agriculture lands, and urban scenery as you wind north, just past Asheville, to a nice takeout just before metropolitan sewer district dam. Camp at two campgrounds and two back country paddle trail campsites. This trip is a great opportunity to experience and enjoy the French Broad River without paddling any rapids.

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