Miles 110 to 136: French Broad River Movie Update

This progress report covers two days of rafting. 

  1. First Day: We put in at the Nantahala Access near the bridge in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The sign at the access center says that non commercial traffic is welcome. We rafted with my sister Anne and took out at the Wolf Creek Access near Del Rio, Tennessee.
  2. Second Day: We began at Wolf Creek Access and rafted to the Highway 25 / 70 boat ramp just southeast of Newport, Tennessee.

We at Torg Stories are making a film about the French Broad River, the people who use it, and the social and political issues that surround it. As a part of this film, my wife Megan and daughters Charlotte and Isabel are attempting to raft from the headwaters in Rosman, North Carolina to the Rankin Flats, just northeast of Newport, Tennessee. This is a distance of 149 miles.


The Falls.JPG

Rapid named “The Falls” near Mile 133 of the French Broad River 


Got questions, comments or ideas for our project?

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Warning! Section 9 Whitewater on the French Broad River

The French Broad Riverkeeper’s Guide contains the following warning:

The stretch of river from Barnard to Hot Springs is home to class III and IV rapids. This section of water should not be taken lightly and must be scouted by all boaters.

If it were just me, I could accept the possibility that I would be thrown from a boat and held underwater for some time by the current, after which I would surface and swim to a safe spot. However, it’s not just me on this trip on the French Broad River. My daughters ages eight and ten have been rafting too, and worrying about them in this section of river has kept my wife Megan and I up at night.

rafting, Marshall, Hot Springs, Section 9, Barnard

Thanks to Sandy and Blue Heron Whitewater!

We were relieved when Sandy, one of the owners of Blue Heron Whitewater, offered to guide us through this section of the river. At nearly the same time, we were excited to get an offer from Lee Thonus, an avid kayaker who has written about this section of the river for American Whitewater, to shoot some film of my family as we made our way through what is known to paddlers as Section 9.

Blue Heron Whitewater is located at the intersection of Highway 25 and Little Pine Road north of Marshall and south of Hot Springs, North Carolina. Click here to visit their website.

French Broad River, Section 9, Asheville, kayaking, rafting, Hot Springs, Barnard, Stackhouse

The Torgs on Section 9 of the French Broad River

Some of the still photographs of us on this section of the river were taken by Carly Sterne. Thanks to Lee and Blue Heron for supporting our project and helping us through this section of the river!


Miles 76 to 92: French Broad River Movie Progress Report

We parked behind Southern Rafting on Riverside Drive and put in the river about mile 76. We portaged around the dam on the left. There is a grassy embankment just past the “Danger” signs that hang across the river. We felt nervous about going under the warning signs and getting that close to the dam.

We knew portage was possible because of the explanation in the River Keeper’s Guide to the French Broad. We’d also heard two people, Yukon and Bean, say that they had done this at a talk they gave at the Asheville REI store. Those two rafted the French Broad and camped at night rather than go home every night like we are. We are considering a night of camping before we finish up the river.

We were fortunate that the water in the river was barely moving, more like a still lake than a river. On other days, the current was stronger.

Once out of the river, we had to carry our raft up a pretty steep hill, walk along the railroad tracks for approximately 15 yards, and then we carried our raft back down to the water.

The first mile or so down the river was very difficult because of all the rocks. We spent a lot of time out of the boat trying to get over and around the rocks.

Since we started at the headwaters in Rosman, NC, these were the first significant rapids we saw. We got stuck on a rock in a rapid called Poop Shoot for a bit, and we went over some ledges several feet high.

We intended to take out of the river at Rollins Access. Upon arriving to the general area, we couldn’t figure out where it was. We parked our van at a business with big trucks that seemed to have a lot of extra parking. It was Sunday, and so we weren’t too concerned much would be happening there. We then drove back to the put in to do our trip.

It turned out we were mistaken about where we thought the access was and we took our raft out of the river in someone’s yard. The set up was that peoples’ houses were on one side of the road and they owned the land along the river. We didn’t actually encounter the home owners but a nice man told us where the park was. I don’t think the access area gets much traffic.

We should have kept driving past the business just a little bit further. Rollins Access is recognizable for its metal picnic tables and a small pavilion. You couldn’t get a boat in here. The yard we used to get our raft out was easier where we took out than this access would have been.

Salvage Station, Asheville, French Broad River, things to do, outdoor seating

Awesome: we stopped by the Salvage Station on our way home.

Got questions, comments or ideas for our project?

Love to hear from you!

Click here to find the Facebook page for our movie.

Please consider sharing this post via email or social media platforms.

Thanks for being interested in what we are up to at Torg Stories!