French Broad River Canoe Trip

The late spring weather has been mild, with cool mornings and evenings. Abundant rain this spring has pulled us out of drought, and brought the level up in the French Broad River. DH had a day off during the week, so we decided to finally take the canoe trip we’ve planned to do for years. It is only a half day of total time, including the drive time up to the facility in Asheville. So, we got tickets online, and made reservations for an early start. Arriving at the waterside, we were given a short instruction on the river hazards, what to avoid, how to go under the three bridges, and interesting things to look for on the way.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Slathering on sunscreen and spritzing a bit of bug spray, we donned our life jackets and boarded the van towing the canoes for the ride out to the launch point. It only took twenty minutes to get there, but would take two and a half hours to come back on the river. We were the only canoe renters that morning, but three other folks went along with their own kayaks. Several canoes were removed from the trailer to make room for their kayaks. They were here on vacation, and we had a nice chat about local restaurants on the way.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Our canoe was unloaded first, and we climbed in and sat down with our paddles at the ready.  A push off by our guide, and we set out on the river.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

About 20 minutes later, we got to the first bridge. Going ‘left of the blue dot’ we easily floated through the archway.  Those little churning areas were no problem, and actually quite pretty in the sun.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Verdant green trees lined the river on both sides as it wound lazily around the countryside. It was so quiet too, just the gentle sound of the water as it flowed, sometimes babbling as it went around boulders or bridges, or trees sticking up on the edge of the shore.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Off the main river, in a side inlet, we found the arched stone bridge.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

In places, the trees overhung the water, so you could stay in the shade a bit.  We came to appreciate these areas as the sun climbed higher in the sky, and the temperature rose with it.  Although it was about 68º F when we started (19º Celsius), it was about 86ºF at the end (30º Celsius).

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Wildlife was abundant in the morning hours. We came around a bend and almost missed this giant turtle sunning himself as he blended with his surroundings quite well. I wasn’t sure the picture was going to be clear, so we turned the canoe around and paddled back to see him again. But when we made the turn, he was gone.  DH was amazed at the length of his tail!  He was huge.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Looking up the hill on the side of the river, a horse pasture with an old barn came into view. We could hear the horses neighing to one another long before we were able to see them. Can you see them? There are at least four at the top of the hill.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

The river took us farther downstream, as we floated without paddling for a bit. Did you know that the French Broad River flows northward?  Originating near the town of Rosman which is near the southern border of North Carolina in Transylvania county, it flows northeast generally, winding around towards Asheville getting larger as it goes north, collecting in smaller rivers.  It flows north east then north west, ending in Tennessee near Knoxville where it joins the Holston River to form the Tennessee River.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

Looking up on the right, we could see the corner of the Biltmore House coming into view. We had been told that it would be visible from the river, and thought this would be it.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

But a little farther on the river, a better view presented itself.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

A couple of families of Canadian Geese were tending to their little ones. So cute, the little golden fluffballs swimming next to the parents on the right couldn’t be more than a couple of weeks old.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

A little farther along, pretty dark birds with a flash of blue were flying low over the water. We think they were after the mayflies and similar insects floating on the surface of the water.  The river stayed about the same width the entire length of our trip, but it gets much bigger after gathering in the Swannanoa River north of where we would end our trip.  The river is 218 miles long, and we only saw a tiny fraction.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

These geese were loudly complaining about the intrusion on their waterway.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

More green on the water, so peaceful and quiet. We didn’t see the kayakers until the end of our journey when they finally caught up to us. We decided to let them go by, and took a bit of a break in the shade.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

One more picture, the river with more mountains in the distance. Such clear colors are seen on this morning, but by now it was after noon and getting a bit hot in the sun in spite of the puffy clouds.  By the way, do you know why it is called the French Broad River?  I had to look it up because I was curious.  There are actually two rivers in North Carolina which were called Broad Rivers, and at the time they were named, this area was held by the French.  So this one became the French Broad River and the other was referred to as the English Broad River.

French Broad River Canoe Trip at From My Carolina Home

At this point, we still had about half an hour to go before getting to the end point where the car was parked. There was one more beautiful bridge with some lovely architectural details, but the camera battery died before I could get it. I guess that means we have to go again. I think this would be stunning in the autumn, but I am also sure that the river is likely pretty crowded then.  Still, if we go at the right time, it could be wonderful.

Have you ever done a canoe trip, or something like it?



Rattlebridge Farm

Take Me Away!


23 thoughts on “French Broad River Canoe Trip

  1. wlbg149

    Warren and I spent a week canoeing in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, which was the most impressive of many trips. Carolyn

    1. Mary Crawford

      Boundary Waters – isn’t it wonderful? I, too, was able to join a group a few years ago to visit that beautiful country. I am from SW Minnesota so a little bit of a trek to get there, but hope to again in my lifetime. How about you? Minnesota?

  2. It looks like a fun time – very scenic and quiet. Autumn would be spectacular too. We’ve done kayaking and white water rafting.

  3. Carole J.

    WOW !!! You are a real RENAISSANCE WOMAN Carole… you and your DH have so many wonderful adventures and accomplishments,,, thanks so much for sharing …

  4. Elaine Nemeth

    What a wonderful view of the Biltmore. Just sold my canoe 2 weeks ago…so this trip brings back wonderful memories Thanks for sharing your trip.

  5. Shirley

    Thank you for sharing your canoe trip. When we were younger and life got busy, we used to go canoeing with friends. We would take a picnic lunch and go for the day on the Pere Marquet River in Michigan. Loved the turtle!

  6. Rosemaryflower

    NO! We have never done this. Were there bugs and spiders?
    This looks so peaceful and fun.
    Biltmore is so cool looking.
    Those Canada Geese need to go home, just go back
    The turtle is huge. I have never seen a turtle that big. Could it have swam out (swum) to you and chomped your boat?
    Thank you for taking me along for the ride.
    I love horses together neighing. we have lots of them here in Virginia doing that sort of thing togther

  7. I have never been on a canoe trip, but the beauty of you pictures and words makes me think about it. I did say think. The wildlife is a site to behold. The Baltimore house looks so impressive. Thank you for sharing.

  8. huge turtle!! I will skip the water and stick with hiking – I am not a water person – picture me petrified in that canoe I only want to get wet if I put the water on me LOL

  9. Beautiful, peaceful, and so hot, Thanks for the temperature conversion, when I do it myself, from F to C, I deduct 30, then half the remainder. So 70-30=40, 1/2 = 20. By midday, it was a scorcher for you all, and shady trees would be so welcome. I can imagine the slight ripples would be a lovely sound as you glided along.

  10. I loved your canoe trip. Photos and words are marvelous. I was the canoeing instructor for a Girl Scout camp for two summers, and we took overnight trips in the Ozarks.

  11. What a beautiful day out, thank you for sharing, that turtle was huge !! Nice to see all the wildlife and the greenery. My Dad made me a canoe when I was 15….it had a wooden frame with canvas stretched over it and was so heavy to drag around but I spent many happy hours paddling on the harbour near my childhood home in Tauranga New Zealand.

  12. Debbie Meyer

    Beautifully narrated trip! Loved seeing the wildlife, Biltmore, and just the river scenery! We used to canoe the Clarion River in Cooks Forest PA each year! Was so much fun! Husband’s father had a camp there so we enjoyed it si much!

  13. What a lovely canoe trip! I’ve never been on one, and I’m not sure I would try since I can’t swim. I’m a little afraid of water, even with a life jacket. It did look very gentle, though. The turtle looks enormous — the size of a sea turtle!

  14. Cheryl Buchanan

    Beautiful pictures! I am dying to buy a kayak and do some lazy river rafting. It’s still on my bucket list! As for the turtle, I saw one like that in Yancey County once. It was in the middle of the road and I thought I would help it get out of the road so it wouldn’t get run over. When I approached the turtle, it stood up on its toenails and hissed really big! I left it there, I wasn’t about to touch it. I believe what you saw was a snapping turtle. He certainly was a big fella. I would love to see pictures of a fall trip, this is a must for you!

  15. Mary Crawford

    Thank you for sharing your lovely photos and account of the French Broad River. I am a kayaker and actually become giddy when viewing water photos and moreso when driving by those beautiful rivers and waters that need to be explored. Love being in touch with nature. Glad you enjoyed your trip and now – another one to put on my bucket list!

  16. Mary Jean Cunningham

    No, never did anything like that – I was a wimpy Girl Scout; enjoyed everything but the camping part, plus I’m afraid of going overboard but with life jackets I could see myself doing this, although wondering if DH and I would argue over the best way to paddle, LOL! It looks like an incredibly relaxing time where you forget about everything else and live in the moment – really nice!

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