5-Day Trip: May 17-21, 2014
The trip will start at Headwater Outfitters in Rosman, N.C., where the North and West Forks of the French Broad meet to form the very beginning of this ancient river. We’ll organize gear and discuss the coming fun. There will also be a short presentation by the French Broad Riverkeeper on the history and state of the river. A flat nine-mile paddle through area farms will take us to a private campground for the night. This beginning stretch of river offers a secluded and pristine feeling.
The river continues to slowly meander as we paddle our way north through Brevard, home of the white squirrel and Brevard College. The river then continues through farmland, offering several views of rolling hills and mountains beyond the dense canopy of river birch and sycamore trees. The day will end on our own private peninsula, one of the campsites as part of the French Broad River Paddle Trail. We’ll take the van into Brevard to explore this pretty quaint town and enjoy a nice dinner at Square Root.
Get your fishing rods ready because this day of paddling will pass by the Davidson River, a world-famous trout fishery. The winding river and the dense rhododendrons along the banks are spectacular. Try to catch the elusive muskie fish as we make our way into Henderson County, and later enjoy lunch at one of the campsites established as part of the French Broad River Paddle Trail. Take a swim and watch the sunset as we cook a delicious dinner by the fire.
After paddling the river’s biggest horseshoe, we will pass by rock weirs built by the Cherokee Indians for fishing, and later reshaped by the Army Corps of Engineers to try to make the French Broad River navigable for large ships. The river canopy also begins to recede, allowing paddlers to catch a glimpse of the majestic Appalachian Mountains, as we paddle past the Mills River, a popular trout stream. We will also take samples along the way to determine if there are any sources of bacteria pollution for future investigation. Another lovely night of camping awaits us along the banks of the river at Buck Shoals campsite.
This day of paddling will have it all. We will paddle through the long shoals of the river, and under the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile drive that glides over some of the most scenic vistas in the world. A lunch stop at Zen Tubing awaits before a quiet beautiful paddle through the Biltmore Estate property, while glimpsing the Biltmore House and the extraordinary grounds. Despite being just outside the bustling city of Asheville, the Biltmore property creates a wilderness feel on the river. We’ll arrive at the Biltmore Estate like no one else—by boat. We’ll stop for a tour of the winery, wine sampling, a tour of the new Antler Hill Village and take time to explore the lovely grounds of the Biltmore Estate. The trip will end with a short paddle to the Asheville Outdoor Center takeout.
4-Day Trip: July 12-15, 2014
An exciting day awaits the group as we paddle past Asheville’s parks and greenways and through Asheville’s River district stopping for lunch at one of the best barbeque joints in town (and Barack Obama’s personal favorite), 12 Bones. The views continue to improve as we paddle by the famous Riverside cemetery, where Thomas Wolfe and other notables are buried. An exciting portage around the river’s first dam, followed by the first decent rapid awaits us at the end of the day. Finally, we’ll slip by rocks and down small rapids to our camp spot at the French Broad River Campground.
The day starts off with a bang as we negotiate a series of fun rapids called the Ledges. These class II and a couple of small class III rapids can be portaged around, but the direct route will shoot us straight down river. The best fishing of the trip happens on this stretch of river, with fisherman routinely pulling in a host of small mouth bass. The day continues to have a few rapids sprinkled throughout the section, as we view the mountains rising right out of the river. The river will push us towards the small and beautiful riverside town of Marshall. We will camp next to the old high school on the island in the middle of town. We will walk over the bridge and enjoy a nice dinner in town.
We will navigate around the dams in Marshall and be rewarded by paddling a very scenic stretch of river that is almost never visited by paddlers. After a six-mile paddle, we’ll meet a fleet of rafts from Huck Finn Rafting for an exciting romp down class III-IV rapids through the beautiful scenic Pisgah National Forest. We will camp at the Hot Springs Campground, next door to the natural hot springs pools. Taking a dip is a great way to end an exciting day of paddling before we walk to dinner in downtown Hot Springs.
This section of river is one of the most scenic of the entire trip, with rock bluffs jutting out of the water while the river is surrounded by towering mountains. Take a minute to jump off the rocks as we paddle over a few rapids to the state line and can view the ancient hieroglyphics on Paint Rock before shuttling back to Asheville.