Click for Asheville, North Carolina Forecast French Broad River, NC
Woodfin to Alexander
(Section 6)





500 cfs minimum 

French Broad at Asheville

Character: Gentle cruising, modest playing (unless the water is cranking, in which case the playing improves -- see the information on playspots below)
Scenery: Pleasant but with frequent signs of habitation, including a sewage treatment plant, a dam, the occasional discarded refrigerator, a railroad on one side of the river and a road most of the way on the other.
Distance from Downtown Asheville (to take-out): 20 minutes
Length: 7 miles
Season: Year round
Other sections: French Broad, Biltmore Run (I-II), French Broad, Section 8 (I-II), French Broad, Section 9 (III (IV-)), many more
Put-in: Woodfin River Park
Take-out: Alexander Bridge
Directions from Asheville (to take-out): 20 minutes.  I-240 to US 19 North (Exit 4).  Continue 6 miles on US 19 to the New Stock Road exit.  Turn left off the exit ramp and drive 0.7 miles to left onto Aiken Road, then first right onto Goldview Road.  Follow Goldview Road to the river.  Turn right onto NC 251.  The Ledges Whitewater Park and Picnic Area will be on your right almost immediately.  This is an alternate put-in.  Continue north on NC 251 2.0 miles to the Alexander Bridge.  Take-out at any convenient pullout downstream of the bridge.
Shuttle: 10 minutes.  Turn around and head south on NC 251 approximately 5.7 miles to the Woodfin River Park.  Requires one turn to the right to avoid merging onto the Old Marshall Highway.  To return to Asheville, either continue south on NC 251 to Broadway (which heads into downtown), or head north (downstream) a short distance on NC 251 to Lower Beaverdam Creek Road (the first right), then turn right 1.4 miles later onto Merrimon Avenue (which also heads downtown).  The first option (heading south on NC 251) leads most quickly to US 19 and I-240 (at the intersection with Broadway).
Other access points: NC  251 follows the river and provides many access opportunities for all but a short distance near the middle of the run.  The most common alternate put-in is either at the Ledges Whitewater Park, or at a pull-out just upstream of the Ledges Park.  There are many convenient pullouts downstream of the Alexander Bridge.
Camping: A private campground is located on the river a short distance upstream of the Ledges Park.
Gradient: 20 fpm average
  Online: None.
  Print: Bob and David Benner's Carolina Whitewater:  A Canoeist's Guide to the Western Carolinas
Maps: None yet.
Photos: None yet.
Other: An unrunnable diversion dam is located a short distance downstream from the put-in.  Carry the dam on the left.



Asheville's closest playspots are located on this stretch of river, the first in the vicinity of the Ledges Whitewater Park and Picnic Area and the second at the Alexander Bridge.  The Ledges playspots (several) begin to warm up at levels over 1,000 cfs;  they get good around 2,500 cfs and are ideal about 3,500 cfs.  The Alexander Bridge Wave develops enough form for front and side surfs at 1,800 cfs.  At 2,100 it can be cartwheeled but it's shallow and rocky.  By 2,400 it is deep enough to cleanly cartwheel all the way across the wave.  It keeps getting better as levels rise, but it begins to become difficult to get back to the staging eddy at levels over 2,700 and nearly impossible at levels over 3,000.  At 25,000 you'll think you're surfing Lachine in Canada but it is a one-shot and you're off wonder.

For descriptions of the many runs in the Asheville area slightly less challenging than Section 6 -- including seven on the French Broad -- see Betsy Mayers' Paddling Asheville:  28 Gently Exciting Regional River Trips.  This very well done guide for those interested in paddling class I-II in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee includes put-ins, take-outs, directions from Asheville, landmarks by river mile, excellent maps and general comments.  For less detailed descriptions of every run on the French Broad from its headwaters near Rosman, NC into Tennessee, see Bob and David Benner's Carolina Whitewater:  A Canoeist's Guide to the Western Carolinas.


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Copyright 2000-2003 [Chris Bell, Asheville, NC].
All rights reserved.
Revised: November 12, 2003.

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