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Fun at the French Broad River in Asheville

By: Steve Heiselman, REALTOR®


The French Broad River, which flows through the heart of Asheville, is one of the great recreational gems in our area.  From its headwaters near Brevard, all the way to the Tennessee line near Hot Springs, the river provides a variety of experiences from mild to wild.

From Brevard to Asheville, the French Broad is generally an easy flowing river that allows even novice boaters to navigate its waters.  Tubing on the river is also popular near Rosman and Asheville, and there are several outfitters where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and even stand up paddle boards (SUP's).  One particularly scenic stretch of the river provides a unique view of the Biltmore House.


Just downstream from Asheville (north of town) the river begins to change character.  At The Ledges Whitewater Park, there is about a half mile of Class II-III rapids where boaters can practice their skills without having to set up a shuttle (we call this a "park and play" spot for whitewater boaters.)

Beyond The Ledges, the river settles down a bit as it winds its way north into Madison County.  (By the way, the French Broad River is one of only a few major rivers in the United States to flow predominantly South to North.)  After the river passes Marshall, NC, the gradient (steepness) begins to increase.  From just north of Marshall, to near the town of Barnard, the river is scenic Class II run.


Once the river passes Barnard, the excitement begins!  This stretch of the river, known locally as Section 9, is the whitewater section of the river.  Boaters enjoy lots of Class II and III whitewater, with a couple of Class IV rapids as well, including Frank Bell rapid just outside of Hot Springs.  This is also the most remote stretch of the river, which really enhances the experience.  A number of commercial outfitters offer trips on this section of the river, so just about anyone can enjoy it.


Wildlife is abundant along every stretch of the river.  Although they are somewhat reclusive, sightings of otters, beavers, and muskrat are not uncommon.  And the birding is amazing!  Ospreys, Herons of all types, Kingfishers, and Flycatchers are regular inhabitants of the river, and Bald Eagle sightings have become very common along Section 9.

If you would like more information about the French Broad River, don't hesitate to call or email me.  Also, there are two wonderful local non-profit organizations that work to promote and protect the French Broad River - RiverLink, and the Western North Carolina Alliance.  They can also provide a wealth of information. And remember, no matter what type of river experience you are looking for, chances are you can find it on the French Broad River!


Steve Heiselman, REALTOR®
(828) 216-4230
Town and Mountain Realty
261 Asheland Avenue
Suite # 103
Asheville, NC 28801

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