The Transylvania Times -

By Derek McKissock
News Editor 

Canoeing and Kayaking in Transylvania County


Last updated 7/11/2012 at 4:46pm


This summer, canoeists and kayakers will have another option in Transylvania County with the opening of the French Broad River Paddle Trail.

The trail, which officially opens June 9, will cover roughly 120 miles of the river, stretching from Rosman into Tennessee.

Along the way will be eight new campsites, including two in Transylvania, on land leased from private landowners.

The trail will be managed by a reservation system at Western North Carolina Alliance. For more information, call (828) 258-8737 or go to

The French Broad River begins its journey toward the Gulf of Mexico, cutting through deep gorges rimmed by centuries-old hemlocks, meandering through cow pastures and tumbling over granite shoals.

The French Broad and its tributaries (including the Davidson River) offer a variety of paddling opportunities, whitewater Kayaking, a family canoe trip or a leisurely tube ride on a hot July day.

Beginners are advised to start on the upper French Broad, which is best accessed from Champion Park in Rosman. From the park, the river drops just 54 feet in the next 10 miles on its way to the Island Ford public boat access, making this stretch ideal for tubing or a child’s first canoe trip.

Hap Simpson Park in Brevard, located roughly 20 miles downstream of Rosman, offers a convenient take-out for those seeking more solitude or for those who want to float longer. The City of Brevard recently did work at Hap Simpson Park, improving access to the river and repairing erosion to the river bank.

On average, the trip from Champion Park to Hap Simpson takes about seven hours.

Once under the U.S. 276 bridge, it is just a few more miles downstream to the Wilson Road access point.

Paddling from Island Ford to Hap Simpson is a popular float with fishermen, who tempt muskie and smallmouth bass from the undercut banks and deep,

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circulating pools that characterize this stretch of the French Broad. The river maintains this languid pace as it meanders through nursery stock and cow pastures to the Henderson County line at Blantyre.

Davidson River

The Davidson River begins in the northwest corner of Transylvania County and flows past the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery, paralleling U.S. 276 through the Pisgah National Forest. The river is generally too shallow and rocky in the summer for canoes and kayaks, but tubing is very popular here. Expect lots of company on your trip, which requires running your own shuttle or walking back upriver along 276.

The following businesses are available to help maximize your waterway experience:

•Headwaters Outfitters, located at the junction of U.S. 64 West and N.C. 215 on the French Broad, offers self-guided canoe and kayak trips, plus tubing. The outfitter provides tubes, life jackets, safety information, shuttles to and from the river, and changing rooms. For more information, visit or call (828) 877-3106.

•Lake Toxaway Marine offers sales, service, storage and rentals. For more information, call (828) 884-6919 or go to

•Pura Vida Adventures, headquartered on the Hendersonville Highway in Pisgah Forest, offers canoe trips, kayak trips and instructions. For more information, call (772) 579-0005 or go to

•Tubing rentals for the Davidson River are available on U.S. 276 at the entrance to the Pisgah National Forest.


Sid Cullipher is the owner of Headwaters


“I went Canoeing on the French Broad River today. A group of us did the stretch from the Island Ford Bridge to Hap Simpson Park. It’s the middle of April and the early spring pastels of blooms and new leaves will soon be the uniform deep green of


summer. I’m not ready to jump in the water to cool off, but it won’t be long.

“The beauty of the French Broad in Transylvania County is not the beauty of wilderness. Reminders of human habitation and livelihood are never far away. No, the beauty of the French Broad is in the

interaction between the human and natural worlds.

“There is still plenty of wild to this river; the fish and birds and otters and beaver all attest to that. And there are reminders that we humans are imperfect stewards of this gift. Her beauty and wildness are all the more remarkable when seen from this



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