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Kayak, canoe or even paddleboard down the scenic French Broad River through the Biltmore Estate. While you are in the middle of Asheville, all you'll see along the 7 miles are trees, wildlife and a glimpse of the Biltmore House and their hotel. The flat water is perfect for a leisurely paddle.
Both French Broad Outfitters and Asheville Outdoor Center offer rentals and shuttles for this trip. You'll begin at the Bent Creek Park near the North Carolina Arboretum and Blue Ridge Parkway. After some basic instruction, you'll be off for a self-guided journey down the river. No experience necessary.
After you cross under the interstate highway bridge with traffic noise, you'll enter a long stretch of pristine shoreline with a few gentle rapids. It's a birdwatchers haven. We especially love to take an early morning journey as the mist is rising off the river. During hot summer days, afternoons can be hot since the river is wide with little shade. Wear sunscreen!
Stop along the way to enjoy wildlife including a variety of native plants. However, you'll need to stay in your boat since all the land is privately owned.
If you book with French Broad Outfitters, you'll end your 6-mile trip at Hominy Creek (read more) or you can continue down the French Broad through the River Arts District and New Belgium Brewery for 12 miles. Asheville Outdoor Center has a riverside location (read more) about a mile farther down river (making a 7 mile trip).
Allow at least 2.5 hours for the trip. If water is low, it will take you a little longer since the water is flowing slower and you'll have to navigate more rocks. Trips run April-October.