The French Broad River Paddle Trail is a recreational watercraft trail created and operated by RiverLink and MountainTrue. The paddle trail facilitates public access to and camping on over 140 miles of the French Broad River, from the headwaters in Rosman, North Carolina to Douglas Lake in Tennessee. RiverLink’s campsites are free (reserve here). MountainTrue’s campsites require a small fee (www.frenchbroadpaddle.com). All campsites require a reservation by phone or web. Both websites have an on-line paddle trail map.
To check availability and reserve a RiverLink campsite, click here!
The trail is 117 miles in North Carolina, usually this takes through-boaters approximately 10 days to complete. The river varies in character and supports many skill levels of paddlers. The headwaters are narrow and flat, with a few waves and riffle areas. In this section you will traverse predominately through farm land, with high river banks and fallen trees and strainers in the river. After the river enters into Buncombe County it widens and becomes shallower. This area is also fairly flat water with the occasional wave or riffle of whitewater.
Below Asheville there is the first of three dams you will portage. The Craggy Dam is approximately 10′ high and there is an unimproved portage on river left. Below Craggy Dam is the first bit of technical whitewater, called “Ledges.” This is a local spot for play boat practice for local enthusiasts. Below Ledges the river is considered class 1-2 rapids.
Above Marshall is the second dam, the Capitola Dam, it has a long portage through town. The safest means of portage is to exit the river at the Town of Marshall Park in Rollins and shuttle to below the Redmond Dam. If you chose to continue in the river this section is beautiful, yet there is no legal portage around the third and final dam, the Redmon Dam. Many boaters portage to the right along the railroad, but this is not advised. It is illegal and many boaters have been ticketed for being on the railroad.
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