Rocky Broad - 2. Lower, Along Route 64/74 to Lake Lure at Chimney Rock

Rocky Broad, North Carolina, US


2. Lower, Along Route 64/74 to Lake Lure at Chimney Rock

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 132 fpm
Max Gradient 200 fpm

(RM) Redneck Falls

(RM) Redneck Falls
Photo by Rob Maxwell @ 4.1

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Broad River at highway 9 near Chimney Rock
noaa-llbn7 2.87 - 5.00 ft IV-V 01h42m ~ 2.83 ft (too low)

River Description

Leland Davis put together a video walkthrough of a good portion of the rapids on this run.

The run is composed of continuous boulder drops and runs thru downtown Chimney Rock, NC. The takeout is a small park on river left. It's clearly visible from the road after driving through the center of Chimney Rock. It has multiple dirt parking spots for vehicles and good river access.

Be on the look out when paddling this section as several rapids have some kind of undercut or sieve and wood will often lodge in various rapids.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-12-09 21:03:57


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0PutinN/APutin Photo
0.1First SlideN/A
0.2Apple Orchard SlideN/APhoto
0.3Banana HammockN/A
0.4Pocket HoleN/A
0.5The Boulder AlleyN/A
0.7Walker Falls5.1Hazard
0.8The HeinN/A
1.0Sieve CityN/APhoto
1.1Rumbling Bald RapidN/A
1.2TakeoutN/ATakeout Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Putin (Class N/A)

(RM) Put-In Parking

(RM) Put-In Parking
Photo by Rob Maxwell @ 4.1

First Slide (Class N/A, Mile 0.1)

Start center, heading left at the bottom of the slide.

Apple Orchard Slide (Class N/A, Mile 0.2)

David Long @ The Slide

David Long @ The Slide
Photo by Royce Cowan taken 09/25/09

Formerly known as "Roostertail Slide"

Used to have a large rooster tail feature on it before being removed in a flood.

Banana Hammock (Class N/A, Mile 0.3)

Go left, sieves to the right.

Redneck (Class N/A, Mile 0.7)

Lead in Rapid to Redneck

Lead in Rapid to Redneck
Photo of Lower Rocky Broad by Mike Lewis taken 12/27/04 @ 3.44

Walker Falls (Class 5.1, Mile 0.7)

Ugly sieve pile. Portage river right and seal launch in off of the top of the large rock. Site of a fatality. Has seen some descents.

A-Frame (Class N/A, Mile 0.9)

A-Frame Rapid

A-Frame Rapid
Photo taken 12/02/09

Sieve City (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

David Long @ Alice In Wonderland

David Long @ Alice In Wonderland
Photo by Royce Cowan taken 09/25/09

Also sometimes called "Alice in Woderland"

Takeout (Class N/A, Mile 1.2)

Rocky Broad Takeout

Rocky Broad Takeout
Photo taken 12/02/09

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 29 2013 (1817 days ago)
Harrison MetzgerDetails
PLEASE NOTE: I had the level very,
very wrong in my long trip report. It was
3.78 on the bridge gauge, NOT 4.78,
which would make a world of
difference on either the Upper or the
Lower! The online gauge said 4.4.
November 18 2009 (3044 days ago)
x (1)
The usgs gage Cove Ck near Lake Lure should be a gage of interest. The cfs/sq. mi ratios are the
same as the Rocky Broad according to usgs archival data. Furthermore the Cove Ck gage adjoins the
Rocky Broad and has the same drainage basin size of the lower Rocky Broad or about 79 sq. mi. with
and average output of about 139 cfs. The upper Rocky Broad drainage is much smaller or about 40 sq.
mi.. 200 cfs for the lower RB and 300 for upper should work. It is no more of a leap to use Cove Ck
for the Rocky Broad as it is the use Ivy River gage for Big Laurel Ck.
August 16 2007 (3869 days ago)
x (1)
at this time appox. 3-strainers in the lower RB. IS there any way we can as boaters , work to
legally to remove these. it would not only be of benefit to paddlers , tubers ,swimmers ect. But
also to the community at large.We all would like to see heavy rains able to run to the lake
unobstructed from debris and strainers. We have a group of paddlers with the means and ability to
help remove these. who would we contact to help with this in the town of Chimmney Rock. Any
comments on how to accomlish this would be appreicated. Reply to padddlehead7
April 26 2005 (4711 days ago)
Dana Culbreth and Will HannaDetails
Not sure of what they are planning to do long term yet. But the access to the river has been cut
off at several spots. There is a temporary bridge that is bad news. What may be worse however is
that they have erected a fence on river left keeping people from accessing the river at "The
Gauntlet" and "Franks/Redneck Falls". Redneck Falls is often portaged even when
there is enough water. At lower flows, it is a mandatory portage/seal launch. If their plan is to
make this area a private access point for the landowner. (Already no trespassing signs) There will
no longer be any place to scout these rapids, let alone portage.
To anyone paddling The Lower Rocky Broad. Remain conscious of the fact that our access here is
already limited. Please be extra considerate to the folks that live over there. Do not argue with
the locals nor do anything to provoke the people of Chimney Rock into developing a bad taste for
kayakers. I paddle there several times a month and never have any trouble. I'm trying to find out
what the ____ is going on with these new developers. I wrote AW about this and I'm sure it will get
worked out. "IF" that is, nobody screws it up before we get to the truth of the matter.
Get out and go creeking.
February 7 2005 (4789 days ago)
Cooper LamblaDetails
The new pics are good, a couple of things. redneck falls or franks as we call it is super shity.
portage on river right and seal launch off the biggest boulder there, It's way more fun than
scraping down the drop. Also the real estate office near the put-in is super cool, the nice folks
there are letting my buddies and I put in on their property. Change and everything else discretly,
and still park in the pictured lot, but you can put-in there, just be super cool, clean and well
mannered. I know Kayakers are already clean cut and all that, just got to be careful.haha, have fun
out there!! it's a fun place!
October 5 2004 (4914 days ago)

From Canoeman on Boatertalk:
My first time on the Rocky Broad! (TR, very long.) New

Forum: BoaterTalk
Date: Oct 04 2004, 17:30 GMT
From: canoeman

Fortunate as I am to work in Hendersonville, N.C., center of the Southeastern paddling universe,
there are two runs within 20 minutes of my office that I have avoided. One is the Narrows, which I
still don't have any plans to run. The other was, until yesterday, the Rocky Broad.

Actually, the RB has been on my to-do list for years, along with the Watauga. And as a new dad of a
baby girl, now a toddler, close-to-home runs are at a premium for me. So in addition to my favorite
creek, the North Fork of the French Broad, I have started looking at the West Fork and the Upper
Rocky Broad.
Unfortunately, the Upper was too low to run this weekend. But I got over the mental hump about
running the Lower. So I called my friend Will (Slave2H2O) and asked him if he would be willing to
lead a few newbies down. That would be me and my friend Stephen, a C-boater, and another very hard
core open boater I have recently started paddling with, Pat.

Thanks to Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, I have gotten in a half dozen runs on the North Fork in
September in both canoe and C-1 and was primed for something new. Also I ran the Upper Davidson
earlier in the month with my friend Doug Bonnoitt. When Doug said he had done the Rocky Broad three
or four times and loved it, I thought, that's it - Let's go.

We were met at the put-in by not only Will but his friend Chris who knows the river quite well and
a kid in a Disco named Adam McKinney. Chris told me the Rocky Broad is Adam's home creek and he
knows it inside and out. We were also joined by Scott, an excellent C-1 paddler, and Bentley, a
gutsy girl kayaker. Am I forgetting anyone, Will? I thought we started the run with 10 of us.

Also showing up at the put-in was my oldest and best paddling partner, David Withers, along with
his huge dog. He came to watch and take pictures, so I handed him my video camera. The river was
flowing at just under 3.8, 3.78 to be exact.

Upon seeing the open boats at the put-in, Chris joked "open I love
carnage!" Pat and I did our best not to feed his carnage whim. We almost succeeded.
Once on the water, it became evident the Rocky Broad is Wilson Creek on steroids. This is one of
the coolest runs I have been on. At this level, almost all the drops have some kind of pool below
them, although some of the rapids are still quite long. It starts out in a cool class III groove
then builds as the Class IV+ boulder piles start dropping at 200 fpm. After a 1/4 mile warmup we
came to the first big slide.
Cool ferry across the top to slam into a slot on the right bottom of the slide. My strategy for the
day was simple. Go where Adam goes. It worked here and everywhere else.
There was much discussion about a rapid called Butt Crack, that the recent floods had washed a
nasty rock into the crack. When we got there we found a cool alternative line, I think it was to
the left. More unnamed class IV boulder piles ensued, then reached one bigger and steeper than the
rest: Gauntlet.

Here's where my one mishap occured, and here's what the video shows:
Jah Will cooly hand-paddles his H2 through the entrance drops and through a bad hole just above the
crux at the bottom, where the river drops 6 feet or so into a rock. The correct line is either to
turn and blast left of the rock or boof over it. Will hit the bad hole above the bottom drop (and
it is really bad, backed up by a pinning slot and underwater rocks) did a couple of back strokes
and caught a small eddy. Oohs and ahhs are heard on shore.

As he is sitting in the eddy a big blue Outrage canoe (me) comes barreling over the crux drop into
the hole and spins to the left. One stroke takes me closer to Will in the eddy. But before I can
take that next crucial stroke, I hesitate. Big mistake.
As they say, fear leads to hesitation, and hesitation leads to your worst fears coming true. I but
I wasn't really afraid - until I realized I was sliding backwards down the drop!
I never flipped. It was more like someone hit the eject button. I hit that rock so hard that the
force catapulted me back over my stern air bag, and I think, over the rock the current was crashing
into. Right into an eddy, along with my boat and the paddle still in my hand. Praise God I was OK,
except my ankle was seriously torked as I was ripped off my footpegs. Guess I should have waited
and followed Adam!

Just downstream is Walker Falls, aka. Redneck Falls or "Frank." One look sent most of us
carrying our boats. This was clearly a Class V drop with big consequences. A drop into a grabby
hole just upstream threatened to screw up your line through the 8-to-10-footer below. There are
four or five cracks, but only one has enough water and no pinning rocks at the bottom. The worst
one is a 2-foot-wide slot drop behind a gargantuan boulder on river right.

Pat, paddling an Esquif Nitro, almost made it. But at the last second the current shoved him into
that most terrible place on the left. "Get a rope to him," someone yelled, as Steven
scampered over the boulders ahove the unseen carnage, rope in hand. 1-1000, 2-1000, 3...Pat flushes
out the bottom, upright, his paddle floating out ahead of him. As he later said, there wasn't room
in there for me, my boat and my paddle. He went over the drop dragging his palms on the granite,
against his back air bag. Thank God he flushed through.

Will was the only other one to run Redneck Falls. He did a nice stall, hand-paddling his way into
position for the correct slot before going deep.

The rest of the run was uneventful, for the most part. Scott in his C-1 executed several heroic
rolls in the middle of the steep pile below the spot named after a female body part. Two boaters
walked off at the 1.5 and 2-mile marks, leaving seven or eight of us to complete the run. The only
other portage was at A-Frame. It looked like it would damage my canoe, and from the looks of Pat's
hull afterwards, I made the right choice. Pat and Will and Adam all ran it, pretty clean.
This was a great day on the river and a good water level. Although some skepticism was expressed
whether the open boats would fit through all the slots, they did, and it did not seem overly tight
to me. I had so many good lines through tough rapids that I don't mind the sore ankle today. I
loved the microeddies I caught, and all the cool unnamed Class IV+ boulder piles, and I will be

The Rocky Broad may not be as beautiful as the Watauga, but it sure closer to the
Asheville/Hendersonville area and comparable in challenge. The water looks clean and the bottom and
rapids have been scoured clean by the floods. All the junky development on shore does not seriously
detract from the rapids, or from the magnificent gorge walls towering above.
This is a fantastic roadside whitewater park. If you feel you have had enough, you can just get
off, being mindful of no trespassing signs and respectful of landowners. I don't recommend taking
out at the destroyed river walk in the middle of Chimney Rock Village as we did, though. Just
upstream of the Chimney Rock Park bridge is a better spot, and you will only miss one rapid.

Thanks again to Adam, Chris and Will for showing us the lines. I will try to get some video up when
I get a chance.
September 6 2004 (4943 days ago)
Cooper LamblaDetails
Will Hanna And I checked out the Rocky Broad one day in the spring of 04'. The Internet gauge,
( read 4.0 on the Bat Cave Gauge. When we got there the
bridge gauge read 3.6 I'd say this is the minimum. It was very low, but you could run all of the
rapids but one. Put in at or below the bridge in Bat Cave and go down as far as you want. Will and
I did one section of about a mile I think, and just kept hiking back up the road to the top. Close
to the start there is a drop that ends with a monster tree blocking the whole river, there is no
way to get around it in a boat, but once you go over the lip of the drop you'll know you need to to
get to the bank before the log, which is possible, you can still run the drop, just know that you
need to be aware. A little ways down there is a slide that has a bir rock in the middle, then more
fun slots and drops. It's all super technical, and tons of sieves. the last rapid of the section we
ran was the biggest, it was the steepest drop of the run, scout on the left. The drop below this
slide/drop thing was too low to run. Good luck, hopefully I can get back to have a more in depth
report with pics.
June 10 2003 (5397 days ago)
from RBP:

Search Result 3
From: Chris Bell (
Subject: Re: Flood Hits Rocky Broad
View: Complete Thread (3 articles)
Original Format
Date: 1996/09/06

Chris Bell wrote:
> A friend called me moments ago to tell me that the
> 11 inches of rain (yes, that's eleven inches) the
> Rocky Broad (NC) basin received in 3 hours last
> night (yes, that's three hours) wiped out at least
> one of its bridges (the one to the campground on
> river right with the nice slot move on river
> left above it). Part of the road is reported to
> be washed out as well. John is on his way to
> check out the damage first hand. Oh, and last
> night's rain is not Fran-related -- the hurricane
> isn't expected to reach the coast until late
> tonight and we in the mountains won't feel its
> effects until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest.
> YOW! Don't expect me on the Gauley this weekend...

John last night and the Asheville-Citizen Times this
morning confirmed all of the above and more. Eleven
inches of rain did fall in three hours, seventeen
inches in 24. Other than the volume, the rainfall
was pretty typical for the WNC mountains this time
of year in that places 30 minutes from ground zero
received no rain at all!

At least one bridge was washed out, a restaurant
was washed into the river and was last seen in Lake
Lure, mudslides have closed the road between Bat
Cave and Chimney Rock, numerous homes have been
flooded and some knocked off their foundations,
etc., etc.

John tried to run the river yesterday afternoon
(it had dropped to a very reasonable but pushy
+11 inches) but was "ordered off by a bunch of
rednecks in pickup trucks yelling something
about the river being closed and paddlers being
subject to arrest." Given that campers were
still stranded at the time and the "rednecks"
were no doubt the local rescue crew, I think
it wise that John and his boating buddy didn't
press the issue. Most local rescue squads are
next to useless in river rescue situations
(a problem Slim Ray is working to address in
our area) and it is incredibly unlikely that
John would have gotten into a situation
requiring their "services," but they didn't
know that and they do know enough to know that
swiftwater rescues are extremely dangerous
(even more so for them!). My sympathy is
with the rescue squad. It's not like the
Rocky Broad won't be running at + 11 again in
the near future...

Oh, and Fran has missed us entirely, so maybe
you will catch me on the Gauley this weekend!

-- Chris
June 9 2003 (5398 days ago)
sept 1996 was the flood that last changed the riverbed.
June 9 2003 (5398 days ago)
flood warning update
June 8 2003 (5399 days ago)
Big boulder rapids. With really big boulders. Underwent major changes during a 1996 floods. Some
very hard moves in the rapids. At higher flows it starts looking like the NF Payette. Big, steep
and continuous. A swim could really suck, and you would probably not get your boat back until it
hit the lake.

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