The French Broad is a free-flowing river, meaning that water levels can vary widely based on rainfall, season, and changes to surrounding topography and land cover. Generally, paddling is harder, and conditions are more dangerous when the water is high due to swift currents and movement of debris. Check the weather and gauges before you go and consider postponing your trip if heavy rain is in the immediate forecast.

The table displayed below outlines real-time streamflow gauges along the French Broad Paddle Trail as provided by the US Geological Survey (USGS). The noted ratings are suggestions informed by the experiences and opinions of local paddlers and outfitters, however your tolerance for high or low flows might differ depending on your expectations, level of skill and patience, watercraft selection, and section of river being paddled.

From a user experience standpoint, flow levels indicated as “Low” mean that navigating the river can be challenging due to shallowness and finding suitable channels for passage. “High” flow levels relate to significant increase in river hazards relating to safety. We do not recommend that users unfamiliar with whitewater safety principles float or paddle the river at “High” levels.

Feel free to contact us with questions about water levels in relation to your paddling plans.

River Mile Site Name Rating Reading Last Updated