Transylvania County and the Brevard, North Carolina area is known as the Land of Waterfalls and can claim over 200 waterfalls within the county thanks in large part because it is one of the rainiest places in all of Western North Carolina. All of that water pouring down off the mountains makes for some spectacular cascades, but also creates great opportunities for paddling and other fun water activities like tubing, swimming and taking a slide down Sliding Rock, the area’s most popular natural water slide. Read on for a few of our picks for Best Brevard River Trips + Places to Paddle.
Local River Expert: Headwaters Outfitters
25 Parkway, Rosman, NC
Tubing In Brevard (French Broad): When thinking of the lazy days of summer, who can resist bobbing down the river on an inner tube? The Brevard area is perfect for some floatin’ fun. We recommend getting on the French Broad River with a trip through Headwater Outfitters.
Headwaters Outfitters 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.
Tubing adventures with Headwaters are very popular. Due to the limited space, Headwaters highly suggests making reservations ahead of time. They also recommend that you come as early in the day as possible to avoid mid-summer thunderstorms. Headwaters Outfitters Brevard River Tubing trips include the tube – the lifejacket – and the transportation! How hassle free is that?
Directions from Brevard: All trips start at Headwater Outfitters, located at 25 Parkway Road, Rosman, NC 28722. From Asheville, take I-26 to Exit 40 (Asheville Regional Airport). Turn right onto NC 280 toward the Airport and continue to Brevard (19.2 miles). Highway NC 280 will intersect at a stoplight with US 64 West and 276; take US 64 West straight through the city of Brevard (around four miles). Headwaters Outfitters is located approximately 9 miles west of Brevard on the right at the intersection of US 64 and NC 215.
Zip + Paddle Combo (Rosman): Looking to combine two great adventures into an epic day? This trip start with a fun paddle on the French Broad River before soaring through the trees on zip lines in one spectacular trip. Pretty sweet, right? Headwater Outfitters and Z-Z-Zip have teamed up to offer this unique adventure day of leisurely canoeing and/or kayaking with a mid-day stop for some treetop fun on the zip lines and low ropes course. It’s kinda like a mountain biathlon. Choose from the short trip (1-1.5 hours of paddling) or the long trip (3 hours of paddling). Either option includes 2-3 hours of play time at Z-Z-Zip. Wanna add something more? Canoe-in camping can be added to these trips too. These trips are family friendly (check weight requirements), and reservations are required. Directions: (See above)
Sliding Rock (Pisgah National Forest): This incredible adventure is consisently ranked as one of the best swimming holes in the U.S. and, as a result, draws big crowds during summer months. We can’t blame them though, as the sloping waterfall creates a natural waterslide that is a lot of fun. Sliding Rock has a gentle slope and ends in a large, deep pool at the bottom, making a ride from the top a fun adventure that isn’t to be missed during a summer visit to the area. Directions from Brevard: To get to the Sliding Rock recreation area travel north from the intersection of U.S. Highway 276 approximately 7.7 miles to the parking area on the left ($1 entry fee per car). Other options nearby include Moore’s Cove Falls and Looking Glass Falls, both beautiful waterfalls worth checking out when in the area.
Overnight Paddle Trip (Rosman): Nothing like a river paddling trail to get you to the campsite! Combine the joys of canoeing with the extended overnight camping experience to embrace the full splendor of the French Broad River with a trip through Headwater Outfitters. Paddling camping gear isn’t near as taxing as carrying a backpack, so this is a great option for a more diverse group of fitness levels that still want to get away from it all. The French Broad is a leisurely river to paddle, and the campsites are equipped with picnic tables, grills, fire rings, lantern hooks, potable water, and portable toilets. These sites are only available to folks paddling in, so there is no car camping to compete with for spaces. You bring your camping gear, and Headwater Outfitters will take care of all of the paddling gear – and they provide the shuttles. Directions from Brevard: All trips start at Headwater Outfitters, located at 25 Parkway Road, Rosman, NC 28722. From Asheville, take I-26 to Exit 40 (Asheville Regional Airport). Turn right onto NC 280 toward the Airport and continue to Brevard (19.2 miles). Highway NC 280 will intersect at a stoplight with US 64 West and 276; take US 64 West straight through the city of Brevard (around four miles). Headwaters Outfitters is located approximately 9 miles west of Brevard on the right at the intersection of US 64 and NC 215.
Self-Guided Paddling Trip (French Broad): 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.
Directions: (See Above)
Paddling On Lake Jocassee (Headwaters): 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 50 natural wonders. While this may have come as a surprise to some readers, the guides over at Headwaters Outfitters have long known and enjoyed this incredible mountain lake for years. 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.”
Guests need to arrive at Headwaters Outfitters at 8:00am in order to depart for a 4×4 trip into the gorges by 8:30am. The shuttle to the Lake is approximately hour and a half, and guest will reach the Lake around 10am, meeting up with kayaks lakeside. You can paddle with the guide or own your own returning back to the put-in at 3:45. The trip will return to Headwaters Outfitters around 5:30 p.m. and includes paddling on the northern section of Lake Jocassee, covering sections where the Horsepasture and Toxaway rivers enter the lake. Lunch is provided along with all equipment, transportation to and from the lake. A guide will lead a trip over to Laurel Fork Falls but will also be glad to direct you to other designations if self discovery is what your seeking. The shuttle in its self is an experience cruising the back country and heart of the gorges. The day of exploring the Jocassee Gorges will be one you won’t soon forget and you to will see why it was National Geographic voted it top 10!
Fish + Wade In A Mountain Stream: Ready to get your feet wet and catch a fish or two in the process? A guided fishing trip with Headwaters Outfitters is a great way to experience some of the area’s best fishing thanks to the local knowledge and professional expertise of a certified fishing guide. The guides at Headwaters Outfitters have experience fishing all over the United States and South America, but feel lucky that they get to call the rivers and streams around Brevard their “home waters.” Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced angler, Headwaters Outfitters’ guides will design the guided trip you and/or your group are looking for.
Moore Cove Falls (Pisgah National Forest): This hike is understandably one of the more popular in Pisgah. A short hike (just under 1.5 miles round trip) on a well-marked trail provides access to this 50’ waterfall. Suitable for young kids and less experienced hikers, the trail has some fun features like creeks and boulders to explore. Although the destination free-falling waterfall is pretty cool, the most awesome aspect of Moore Cove is the expansive dry cave that is behind the falls. The viewing platform offers a stable area of footing and perfect views of the falls and cave, while the shady cavern under the protruding rocks provides a unique experience from behind the veil of water, and offers opportunities for soaking up the damp spray to cool off on a hot day. Directions from Brevard: Take NC-280 East. Take a left onto US-276 West into the main entrance for Pisgah National Forest. Proceed on US-276 for 6.8 miles to the parking area on the right, just before the highway crosses a prominent stone bridge.