SUGGESTED TRIPS

Here are a few suggested trips based on staff favorites, common selections, and insight from partners. Each trip's corresponding photos are above the bulleted description. These are just a sampling of options for overnighters along the French Broad and can be altered in many ways. Feel free to use these suggestions, along with other resources on this website and elsewhere, to craft your ideal trip based on paddling ability, desired points of interest, and available time. 

Many thanks to SouthWings, Hannah Coats, James Vonesh, and Jeff Rich for capturing some of these photos.

 

ONE NIGHT TRIPS:

  • Sections: Pisgah Forest River Access > Everett Road Campsite > Penrose Boating Access Area
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distances: Pisgah Forest River Access > Everett Road Campsite: 1 mile, Everett Road Campsite > Penrose Boating Access Area: 4.5 miles.
  • Description: One of shortest and simplest overnighters on the Paddle Trail, this is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. You'll put on in "downtown" Pisgah Forest, close to Oskar Blues Brewery and the entrance to Pisgah National Forest. Shortly after passing the confluence with the Davidson River, and a couple miles of minor shoals, rocky bluffs, and pastoral scenery, you'll come to our campsite at the confluence just upstream of Everett Road. This is one of our favorite campsites, with great wildlife viewing and lack of neighboring development. On the second day, you can float down to the Penrose Boating Access Area take-out or continue on to Blantyre Park.

 

  • Sections: Westfeldt Park > Firefighter Island Campsite > Hominy Creek River Park
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distances: Westfeldt Park > Firefighter Island Campsite: 7 miles, Firefighter Island > Hominy Creek River Park: 7.5 miles.
  • Description: A nice variety of quiet floating dispersed with the occasional tiny rapid. You'll likely see some tubers along this section if you go in the summer. After putting on at Westfeldt Park near the Asheville Regional Airport, you'll pass Glen Bridge River Park (another put-in option for a shorter first day), and Long Shoals before arriving to our campsite on Firefighter Island, with the best access mid-way down the island on river-right. This is the upstream-most island on the French Broad River and is named for the neighboring firefighter training center. After departing the island campsite, most of river-right is Biltmore Estate land, and if you continue past Bent Creek River Park (another take-out option for a shorter second day), you'll see the Biltmore Mansion a little way after passing under I-26. 

 

  • Sections: Ledges River Park > Whittier Branch Island or Sandy Mush Game Lands > Marshall
  • Difficulty: Moderate (several class II rapids)
  • Distances: Ledges River Park > Whittier Branch Island: 2.5 miles, Whittier Branch Island > Marshall: 10 miles.
  • Description: This is one of the lesser-floated sections of the French Broad River, due to dams on either end, and moderate whitewater within, however is quite scenic, not very developed, and fairly quiet aside from the occasional train. Directly after putting on at Ledges River Park below Craggy Dam, navigate a rocky class II rapid via the deepest channel on river-right. After this, the river mellows out to riffles and the occasional shoal with the exception of "Alexander Wave," a nice channelized rapid below the Fletcher Martin Road bridge (the first bridge you'll come to). Two options for camping exist along this section, with both being undeveloped (without amenities such as a picnic table, fire ring or toilet). The first is Whittier Branch Island, a large island along the river-left bank just upstream of Alexander River Park. MountainTrue leases this island from the State of North Carolina and plans to bring paddle trail campsite amenities to it in the future. The other option is camping at the mouth of Sandymush Creek within the Sandy Mush Game Lands. There is not a developed campsite here, however the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has expressed interest in partnering with the French Broad Paddle Trail program, and we hope to create some sort of official campsite here in the future. A few different options exist for taking out as well. The first is at the bridge over Ivy Creek (typically known as Ivy River) at its confluence with the French Broad a little upstream of Marshall. This is informal but seems to be okay. The second is at Mad Co Tubing, which allows non-customers to park there for $15/car. This the preferred option if available. The third option is to take-out at Rollins Neighborhood Park, however there is no parking here, so you must pre-arrange a pick-up. The fourth option is to portage Capitola Dam in downtown Marshall and take-out at Blannahassett Island Park. All of these options are within three miles of each other.

 

  • Sections: Redmon Dam > Evan's Island Campsite > Barnard Park
  • Difficulty: Moderate (several class II rapids)
  • Distances: Redmon Dam > Evan’s Island Campsite: 2 miles, Evan’s Island Campsite > Barnard Park: 3 miles.
  • Description: This float is one of only a few sections of the river without a road running alongside it. After putting-on at the river access below Redmon Dam on river-right, you’ll float through a beautiful gorge interspersed with historic farms and forested mountains. There are train tracks along this section (and the rest of the French Broad below here), but trains are infrequent overall. After navigating a small boulder garden, you’ll see our Evan’s Island campsite appear on river-right, across from an old homestead. This is one of the most remote campsites on the entire Paddle Trail and is an awesome spot to spend an evening. The next day contains several class II rapids before arriving at Barnard Park. Take out here unless you’re planning to brave the class III-IV rapids of “Section 9” below. You can also camp at our Barnard-Big Pine campsite to extend your trip one more night, which is just a short walk across the river from Barnard Park.

 

  • Sections: Hot Springs > Weaver Bend > Wolf Creek Boat Launch
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult (several class II and class III rapids, depending on flow)
  • Distances: Hot Springs > Weaver Bend: 8.5 miles, Weaver Bend > Wolf Creek Boat Launch: 4.5 miles.
  • Description: This trip is fairly short, but is packed with a great mix of flatwater, whitewater, scenery, and riverside excursions, making for a great overnighter. After putting on at the NOC-owned river access on Silvermine Road (or the Hot Springs Campground if you happened to camp there the night before), you'll go through a couple small wave trains before the river flattens out alongside River Road and neighboring farms and houses. This is a great section to relax and keep an eye out for birds, or to move fast to the rapids further downstream. Keep your eye out for rocks as you approach the Murray Branch Picnic Area, as this is where the rapids begin to pick up as you near the confluence with Paint Creek. Eddy out river-right at Paint Creek to hike up to the Paint Rock Pictographs. We recommend doing some research beforehand to improve your chances of finding the historic paintings. After crossing into Tennessee, you'll see the bluffs of Chimney Rocks above you as you approach Weaver Bend. Keep an eye out for a suitable riverside campsite after crossing under the first railroad trestle. These sites are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and can be driven into, so you might have some neighbors. The next day includes more great scenery and several more rapids before the river calms as it approaches the beautiful Wolf Creek Bridge, where your take-out lies just beyond on river-right.

 

 

TWO NIGHT TRIPS:

  • Sections: Champion Park > Hannah Ford Campground > Pisgah Riverbend Campground> Penrose Boating Access Area
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distances: Champion Park to Headwaters Outfitters Campground: 8 miles, Headwaters Outfitters Campground to Pisgah Riverbend Campsite: 15.5 miles, Pisgah Riverbend Campsite to Penrose Boating Access Area: 6.5 miles.
  • Description: Starting just below Mile 0 of the French Broad River, where the North and West Forks come together at Headwaters Outfitters, you'll meander under tree canopy and through small riffles as you wind your way past the Middle and East Forks of the French Broad River toward a nice campground maintained by Headwaters Outfitters just past the Green Road bridge. To make a reservation, contact Headwaters Outfitters and ask about their Hannah Ford Campsite. Day two takes you through farms, past summer camps, and near the town of Brevard to your eventual stopping point at Pisgah Riverbend, a privately-operated campground available to be booked through Hipcamp. On the second day, you can do a short float down to Pisgah Forest River Access on Wilson Road or add a few more easy miles by taking-out at Penrose Boating Access Area.

 

  • Sections: Blantyre Park > Back Rhodes Ranch Campground > Mud Creek Campsite > Westfeldt Park
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distances: Blantyre Park > Back Rhodes Ranch Campground: 4 miles, Back Rhodes Ranch Campground > Mud Creek Campsite: 11 miles, Mud Creek Campsite > Westfeldt Park: 2.5 miles.
  • Description: Starting on the Transylvania/Henderson County line at Blantyre Park, you'll float through quiet farmland before reaching Back Rhodes Ranch, a privately-operated campground available to be booked through Hipcamp. This campsite also allows drive-in campers, but typically it's easy to still find some solitude if that's what you're after. On the second day, you'll paddle through "Horse Shoe Bend," more farmland, and the confluence with the Mills River before reaching our campsite at the confluence with Mud Creek. Enjoy the wide-open field with yard games or other activities before the sky quiets due to the nearby airport's nighttime closure. The next day, you'll float just a few miles down to Westfeldt Park where you can swing by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company before heading home.

 

 

FOUR NIGHT TRIPS:

  • Sections: Hap Simpson Park > Pisgah Riverbend Campground > Everett Road Campsite > Mud Creek Campsite > Firefighter Island Campsite > Pearson Bridge River Access
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distances: Hap Simpson Park > Pisgah Riverbend Campground: 4 miles, Pisgah Riverbend Campground > Everett Road Campsite: 2 miles, Everett Road Campsite > Mud Creek Campsite: 22.5 miles, Mud Creek Campsite > Firefighter Island Campsite: 9.5 miles, Firefighter Island > Pearson Bridge River Access: 13 miles.
  • Description: This trip spans enough geography to see the river grow from a small, winding pastoral waterway in the headwaters near Brevard to its emergence as a full-sized urban river passing through Asheville's River Arts District. Along the way, you'll pass the confluences with the Davidson River, Mills River, Mud Creek, and Swannanoa River, lots of conservation land, some development, and several riverside parks. You'll also have the chance to stop at Oskar Blues Brewery on your short second day before settling into longer third, fourth, and fifth days, where much of your time will be spent exploring the river corridor and paddle-in campsites. Depending on your last day's timing and chosen take-out (many options exist), you can check out the Wilma Dykeman Riverway along the French Broad in Asheville, and/or drop by a brewery, food truck, outdoor gear store or art gallery. The trip is named for the Mountain Lily steamboat that briefly travelled this section of the river in the late 1800s. We hope your time on the French Broad is better than the Mountain Lily's.

 

  • Sections: Redmon Dam River Access > Barnard-Big Pine Campsite > Hot Springs Campground > Weaver Bend > Bobarosa Saloon Campground > Highway 25/70 Boat Ramp.
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult (several class II, and a few class III-IV rapids, depending on flow)
  • Distances: Redmon Dam River Access > Barnard-Big Pine Campsite: 5 miles, Barnard-Big Pine Campsite > Hot Springs Campground: 8.5 miles, Hot Springs Campground > Weaver Bend: 8.5 miles, Weaver Bend > Bobarosa Saloon Campground: 15 miles, Bobarosa Saloon > Highway 25/70 Boat Ramp: 14 miles. 
  • Description: If you're looking for a challenge, this is the one for you. This trip travels through the some of the most remote regions of the watershed and braves the hardest sections of whitewater along the entire river. Challenging rapids at the beginning and end of the trip are juxtaposed by long stretches of calm but scenic floating. Starting below Redmon Dam in central Madison County, you'll descend Sections 8, 9 and 10 through private lands and Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests. Camping is a mix of simple campsite amenities at Barnard-Big Pine, easy access to restaurants and beer in Hot Springs, backcountry basics at Weaver Bend, and a cultural immersion at Bobarosa's Saloon. If side hikes are of interest, don't miss the views at Lover's Leap or the pictographs at Paint Rock. The trip is named for the infamous platter of tinned meats served as an appetizer on MountainTrue's annual French Broad Paddle Trip through this section. To experience that, you'll have to join us one summer.