Brevard, NC Paddling & Float Trips
Located at the Headwaters of the Historic French Broad River, we offer Paddling Adventures, Guided Fly Fishing Trips, Archery Lessons, Personal Paddling Instruction and a Full Paddlesports/ Fly Shop.
Our canoeing and kayaking river trips can last from 3 hours up to a two day canoe camping trip. You may also choose to cool off with a lazy float down the French Broad on our tubing trip. All of our trips including the canoeing and kayaking river trips are self-guided with the exception of our seasonal special events and personalized paddling instruction courses.
Canoe Camping Trips
Looking for a great way to spend some family time in the great outdoors or perhaps a quick weekend getaway? Come canoe camping on the French Broad River.
A canoe camping trip with Headwaters Outfitters on the scenic French Broad River is the perfect way to get outdoors and introduce your friends and family to the joys of canoe camping. Fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the river, then wake up to the smell of woodsmoke and frying bacon.
We make it easy for you by providing all the essential paddling gear, as well as transport to and from the river. You can even set up your campsite before you get on the water! Whether you’re a Boy Scout troop or a father-son duo, now is the time to discover our overnight canoe camping trips in the mountains of Western NC.
Overnight Camping Trip Rates and Options
Island Ford Camping Trip (8 miles paddling day 1 and 2 miles paddling day two)
$65.00 per person/ $35.00 per person for 3rd person in canoe
Hap Simpson Camping Trip (8 miles paddling day 1 and 12 miles paddling day two)
$80.00 per person/ $45.oo per person for 3rd person in canoe
Campground Only Fee (Paddle-in Camping Only)
$10.00 per person
Sea Kayaking Lake Jocassee
Want to venture into one of National Geographic’s “Last Great Places on Earth”? In the fall of 2012 Nat Geo named the Georges of Lake Jocassee the 9th “Last Greatest Place on Earth” out of 50natural wonders. Something Headwaters Outfitters has known and enjoyed for years, and for some of its staff, their whole life. Owner David Whitmire, who grew up living on the edge of the gorges, has camped, fished, hunted, hiked and explored this landmark his whole life. “It’s very worthy of its new title” Whitmire says. Locally known as the Auger Hole on the North Carolina side, it is now a large part of Gorges State Park and NC Game Lands. “With four major rivers and several streams entering the lake from all sides, this is a water lover’s dream”, says Whitmire. Hidden waterfalls cascade into lake, many of which go unnoticed from land. “That’s why we started this trip”, Whitmire adds. “We want people to discover and explore this historic area and experience that magic that dwells here.”
What to expect:
Headwaters Outfitters will be offering this Special Guided Trip every Thursday Starting in September. Reservations are required. There is a minimum of 3 and maximum of 7 guest per trip.
Shuttle: Average 1.25- 1.5 hours
Once we leave Gorges State Park, we will be traveling on a one lane gravel road that drops into the heart of the gorges. A slow pace is needed. The drive its self is very interesting with a diverse group of animal and plant life encountered.
Foothills Trail Hike: Average 15 minutes, moderate difficulty
Short Hike along the foot hills trail takes guest lakeside where they will meet up with the boats, gear and lunches.
Kayaking Journey- Either 6 mile round trip with guide or Self Discovery Trip
Paddle with guide to laurel fork falls or head out on your own self discovery trip. Return back to trailhead by 3:45 for trip back.
This area both by land and water is some of the most remote, rugged, beautiful wild lands in Western NC. We have developed this trip for our clients to be able to see as much of this awesome area in a day that is possible. We classify this trip moderate +. If endurance is an issue, less paddling with more lakeside down time and exploring would be recommended.
What to bring:
Dress in layers, with quick dry material preferred. Rain/ wind outer shell is good. Light hiking shoes along with a water shoe/ sandal, some folks maybe able to hike and boat in one style.
Daypack with sunscreen, water, light snacks, personal needs are recommended.
Sunglasses and hats are very helpful.
Cameras, binoculars and any guide books, (plants, birds etc.)
· 3 or 4 guest- $200 per person
· 5 to 7 guest- $175 per person
· Includes; transportation, kayak, paddle, PFD, guide, and gourmet lunch
· Does not Include extra drinks or gratuity for guide
Discovery At Dusk
On selected Fridays in May, June, and September, we offer our most popular guided paddling trip “Discovery at Dusk”. Discovery at Dusk is a series of guided, evening paddling trips that balance nature observation with the quiet relaxation of an canoe outing. Each trip departs at 4 p.m. from Headwaters Outfitters and returns just after dusk. We paddle 8 miles, plan to be on the river approximately 4 hours. The trip fee includes your canoe, lifejacket, paddle, river shuttle, and river guide. Prior canoeing experience is helpful, but not necessary.
Cost- $60.00 per person
Includes- Paddling gear, transportation and guide
Does Not Include- Drinks & Snacks or Gratuity for Guide
“A quiet canoe ride along a river forest provides an ideal way of seeing birds” states John C. Kircher in Peterson’s Ecology of Eastern Forests field guide (1988). For those who enjoy watching wildlife, or simply relaxing on a quiet summer evening, the French Broad River in Transylvania County offers some of the best places in Western North Carolina to take in this recreational experience.
While a few songbirds and squirrels may be seen during the day, the prime hours for viewing the majority of the French Broad’s residents occur when the sun settles in the west, and bustle of the day turns gradually into the calm and quiet of night.
On the river at dusk, you may be startled by the warning slap of a beaver’s tail on the water. However, if you paddle quietly you may be able to observe North America’s largest member of the rodent family for a time before it drops below the surface to find its underwater burrow entrance. The beaver’s smaller cousin, the muskrat, is less shy and is more likely to be viewed in its normal routine. Evidence of each can be found along the river banks where their burrows and trails meet the river’s edge.
Cruise Then Booze
Start your summer evening off right with a 2 hour paddle trip down the French Broad and end at Oskar Blues Brewery for a cold craft beer.
Headwaters Outfitters will meet you at Oskar Blues Brewery at 5:30pm with boats, lifejackets, and paddles. A quick 10 minute shuttle to Hap Simpson Park will put you at the launch site of your paddle trip. End your paddle at the Pisgah Forest Access right across the street from the brewery. The shuttle will take you back to Oskar Blues and the taproom is open till 10:00pm.
Enjoy great beer and live music……..Please Drink Responsibly!
Cost- $30.00 Per Person
**Guest do not have to be 21 to paddle**
Signs Of Spring Paddling Trip
We offer our “Signs of Spring”, a series of guided paddle trips, on select Saturdays from April through June. This guided canoe trip balances nature observation with the quiet relaxation of a morning canoe outing. Departing at 10 a.m (you must arrive by 9:15 am) from Headwaters, each paddle trip includes all paddling gear, river shuttle, and guide service. Snacks and drinks are available for sale at the shop.
The cost is $60 per person, though kids under 10 who sit in the middle of the canoe cost only $30.
Much to See!
Little Sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum) is just one species found along the French Broad River during Headwaters’ Signs of Spring guided canoe trip. There are over 2,500 species of wildflowers and flowering shrubs in the southern Appalachians, and many of these can be found somewhere along the French Broad River watershed. Thanks to a variety of microclimates and abundant rainfall, the French Broad hosts a beautiful array of spring flowers. The “Signs of Spring” guided trip takes full advantage of this display.
Although you can certainly see spring wildflower displays while hiking, a canoe-eye’s view offers several advantages for experiencing the new seasons’ first blooms. The banks of the French Broad offer some of the richest soils for plant growth, courtesy of regular floods that deposit nitrogen-rich sediments onto the floodplain. Abundant moisture along the river’s banks also provides ideal habitat for riparian-loving species such as orange jewelweed (seen in June), crested dwarf iris (May), bluets (April), purple phacelia (April-May), monkeyflower (June), and bee balm (June-Sept.)
Flowers may be the chief draw of the “Signs of Spring” tour, but April, in particular, is prime time for birders interested in catching sight of spring migrants passing through. You may see a vireos, warblers, tanagers and flycatchers. Sometimes, being on the river gives you a better perspective to spot birds with binoculars or a camera. Large flowering bellwort is found along the French Broad in limestone-rich pockets.Wood ducks breed along the banks, and can often be seen leading a caravan of fuzzy young through streamside deadfall. Louisiana waterthrushes, Acadian flycatchers, belted kingfishers and great blue herons are regularly spotted by canoeists on the French Broad, as well. Occasionally, an osprey or bald eagle will perch on a dead branch above the river, scanning the water below for vulnerable quarry.
River otter have really made a big comeback since the 1980s, when they were reintroduced to the Smokies. Beaver, fox, long-tailed weasels, mink and skunk can also be spotted along the French Broad.
Self Guided Canoe & Kayak Trips
From our River Shop begins the French Broad Rivers long journey to the sea and we get to provide river excursions, canoeing and kayaking river trips on the first 20 miles and have been for over 23 years! Thousands of paddlers have explored this peaceful section of the French Broad from which we operate. It is a perfect river trip for first time paddlers yet the outstanding scenery beacons seasoned paddlers as well.
You, your family and friends will encounter a lively, yet gentle current with fast-moving shoals and sharp river bends along the way, all part of a natural river environment. This makes this section of the French Broad River a great trip for beginning paddlers and children, or anyone seeking a relaxing river trip. These self-guided Canoeing and Kayaking River Trips are offered daily April – October and you can choose your take-out from a 3 , 4, or 7 hour river trip by canoe or kayak.
Pricing and Options for Self Guided Canoe and Kayak Trips
Hannah Ford River Adventure- 8 miles/3 hours- $40.00 per person
Island Ford River Adventure- 10 miles/4 hours- $45.00 per person
Hap Simpson River Adventure- 20 miles/ 7 hours- $70.00 per person
3rd Person in Middle of Canoe- 10 & Under- $20.00/ 11 & over- $30.00
Tubing On The French Broad River
Our lazy 2 – 3 hour tubing adventure down on the French Broad River will satisfy the entire family on a hot summers day. Kids of all ages enjoy this time with family and friends on this beautiful river. The average water temperature of the French Broad River in the summer is 65 degrees and averages 6″ to 4′ deep. Perfect wouldn’t you say, AND you get to leave the work to us.
Our tubing adventures are very popular! We have limited space and accept reservations which we highly suggest. We also recommend that you come as early in the day as possible! When in the mountains, plan your water activities early in the day! We hope to see you, your family & friends on the river this summer.
We provide The tube – The lifejacket – The transportation!
How hassle free is that?
Cost- $20.00 Per Person
**All guest must be able to swim**