Class III-IV French Broad, NC

Section 9 (Barnard River Park to Hot Springs NOC Access)

French Broad River Section 9

A classic whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking section in Western North Carolina.  Noted for its scenic beauty, relative remoteness, and proximity to outdoor adventure destinations such as Asheville and Hot Springs, NC and Knoxville, TN.  


The French Broad river runs through the southern Appalachian mountains, flowing 218 miles from the town of Rosman in Transylvania County, North Carolina, into the state of Tennessee.  It features tranquil flat water sections consisting of scenic floats through agricultural land and prime fishing spots.  Crossing through downtown Asheville and the historic Biltmore Estate, the French Broad is easily accessible by numerous parks, access points, and even a few restaurants' backyards.  The classic Section 9 begins at Barnard River Park near Marshall, NC where the river enters Pisgah National Forest (Appalachian Ranger District).  From here it flows through protected lands on both sides, and signs of human presence are slim other than the train tracks which line the northern side of the river.  For 8.1 miles, the French Broad River varies between class II and III difficulty, with two class IV drops towards the end before ending in the town of Hot Springs.  


Rafters navigating whitewater along the French Broad - Credit: Tammi, Flickr Public Photo



Benefits of the French Broad River's Section 9 include: its reliable intermediate-level flows and proximity to nearby towns and scenic beauty. Easy to experience on short notice and within a half day’s drive of many Southeastern cities; the French Broad is a great beginning whitewater river; a river you can enjoy on your own or with an outfitter.  There are several outfitters that operate rafting and kayaking services on Section 9, but logistics for coordinating a social trip are also fairly simple for year-around enjoyment.  

Section Details

Trip Length Partial Day, 8.1 Miles
Fishing Yes
Camping Yes
Permit No
Manager U.S. Forest Service, Pisgah National Forest
Wild & Scenic No
Water Trail Yes
Partner Information
Description American Whitewater
Photo Credit: French Broad River surrounded by the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest. (Flickr Public Use)