Brush Creek - to French Broad River

Brush Creek, North Carolina, US


to French Broad River

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)

Styling the Big Drop

Styling the Big Drop
Photo of Jeb Hall by Kevin Colburn taken 11/15/18 @ a good level

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03453000 400 - 2000 cfs IV-V 01h09m 246 cfs (too low)

River Description

Brush Creek is a small and steep drop-pool creek that cascades into Section 9 of the French Broad River. It boasts 3 big drops (15-30 ft) and lots of other smaller drops and rapids in the 4-10 foot range. All the big drops land in deep pools. Everything can be scouted with relative ease thanks to the pools that seperate every drop. Brush Creek looks like chocolate milk when it is running, and nearby creeks like Big Laurel will be high when Brush is in.  

Parking at the put in is an issue as Brush Creek is on private land. Please respect private property around the put in. It is possible to slide into the creek from the road, upstream from the put-in bridge 20-30 meters where the road comes closest to the creek.

Once in the creek the bedrock rapids begin quickly. The first blind drop you'll come to is split into two channels. The right side is a sloped drop that allows an easy boof into a shallow pool. The next big drop is a 15 foot or so fast cascade that requires some strategy on the entrance and is best run far left. This drop is followed by the gnarliest drop on the run: a 20 foot or so drop featuring a smooth slide into an undercut pillow that launches you out into an autoboof for the last 15 feet or so of air. The last big drop is the biggest, a 25 foot or so drop that rolls to vertical and is best run left of center. The pool is plenty deep. There are some great smaller drops and rapids scattered throughout the tightly packed run, all the way to the French Broad.

The best option for taking out is to paddle Section 9 out to Stackhouse. Some paddlers choose to hike up Big Laurel on the way down for some added fun. Water quality in Brush Creek is highly suspect so take precautions.  

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-11-16 18:42:03


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 17 2018 (280 days ago)
mjackson8 (156896)
Ran it 4/16/2018 after months of chasing it. We portaged 3 logs: 1 early on above the falls, 2
beneath them, with all of the bigger drops clear. Didn't miss any of the fun because of the wood! A
few duckable logs. Water was on the lower side
April 3 2009 (3581 days ago)
x (1)
Ben Vaughn : Ran this creek finely for the first time around the first of January. Great creek with
big clean drops. You should always check for wood but it was totally clear of any obstructions when
we ran it. Scout the first rapid section from the left and the rest of the drops from either side.
The Put-in parking situation has finally been taken care of. When you cross over the bridge of
brush creek like heading to the put in of the french broad. Park in the first big gravel parking
lot on the right, down in the corner as much as possible. I talked to the guy who owns the property
and he doesn't mind but he would like a few dollars per car. We gave him 5 bucks and he was totally
September 5 2006 (4521 days ago)
x (1)
I ran this on labor day. It was low but raining. between 300 & 400 cfs ? It was runnable, but
if I run it that low again, which I won't, I would probably hike down and only run the big drops to
save some plastic. <br />
The gradient picks up quick about 100 yards down from the bridge at the end of sharp hollow road.
There are several 8 to 10 foot ledges with short calm stretches in between and then comes the first
decent sized drop. About a 25 foot cascade with a potential piton rock in the pool below on river
right. I ran the river left side of the drop and the pool was about 6 or 7 feet deep at the bottom.
Up next and not to far away is another 20 foot slide that should probably be scouted. Most of the
water is falling into the river left side of the drop and curling up underneath some undercut
boulders. I tried at first to set up a seal launch above the drop on the river right to avoid the
undercuts but couldn't find a stable enough place to get into my boat. I ran a sketchy line,
launching off of a rock on the river left side, over the main current, and off the river right side
of the last few vertical feet at the bottom. This pool looked pretty clean. <br />
A few more skinny rapids later is the tallest drop of the run. About a 30 foot cascade that I would
recommend running on the river left side to avoid a kink about halfway down. The bottom half of
this drop is vertical with a clean pool and it's alot of fun. I ran it a couple of times. There is
a trail on the river left side of the pool that is portagable but really slippery. I would have to
recommend bringing a partner and roping the boats back up for multiple runs.

It's a crusty hike up the tracks to Barnard, but well worth it. Thanks to philippe damiano for the
access, posted by Josh Dalton.
April 14 2003 (5762 days ago)
Forum: BoaterTalk
Re: brush crk.north of ash. by huka Apr 13 2003, 1:28 GMT New
Date: Apr 13 2003, 2:33 GMT
From: Neckyyakr

I've run Brush Creek...not to long ago as a matter of fact. If it's running, (the Laurel will be
around 2ft. I think. Dunno it was big though) Brush Creek is a definite gem. Your boat will touch
shore to shore at the put in, as it's tiny. The drops are all fairly straight forward and for the
most part can be boat scouted. The first ledge is best fun on the right side with a left side boof
stroke to angle yourself to the right and into an eddy. Everything else is mainly just slides and
cascades. A nice 20 footer with a good launch pad is worthy of nothing. THere are very few
entrapments with the exception of one slide around the middle of the run. The top of the drop feeds
into an undercut...out and then down about a 20 foot slide with a good boof at the bottom. Best
route is to seal launch into the slide, below the undercut so you can enjoy the rest of the slide.
Apart from that, you might scout for strainers, but everything else is good to go. I would compare
it to running the Chauga. Except with much less push and more slides and cascades. It's well worth
it. Wish I could go....
March 25 2003 (5782 days ago)
Dave SchallDetails
I walked it on 3-25-03. It looked all clear except for one low overhanging branch in the enterance
to the second to last big slide. I would characterize this run as very tight. When I walked down
from Bernard I wasn't sure it was even the right creek because it was so small. From the top: The
first significant rapid is a long series of short slides culminating in a 6 to 10 foot boof
requiring a sharp right turn and another sharp left to set up. The landing is into a very shallow
pool. This is also the toughest rapid to scout because there are rosebushes on both sides of the
river and no shore access. I hiked right up the middle of the creek. Next there are three or four
fairly straight forward slides into pretty good sized pools. The last of the slides runs right to
left and at low water the left wall of the slide looks undercut about halfway down, not a good
place to get stuck. With enough water you can probably get enough right to left momentum to avoid
these. The next drop is a steep slide of about 25-30 feet that goes vertical for the last 10 or so
feet. The entrance looks pretty clean but I wasn't real sure about the depth of the pool at the
base of the drop. I was able to climb up from the river left side of the drop and I think a portage
there would be possible. Things mellow after this with more broken ledges and slides to the French
Broad. The hike back to Bernard on the railroad took about 10 minutes which would be a good option
for short shuttle and multiple runs. That's all I have. I haven't run it and I don't think I will
anytime soon. Steep stuff.
November 18 2002 (5908 days ago)
More from boatertalk....supposed to be a bunch of 10 to 20 footers and one 30 footer. Lots of vert.
October 2 2002 (5955 days ago)
Chris GuptillDetails
I've never run this, but I worked in the
area on the French Broad, so I hiked it
a few times. This run looks like a solid
IV-V run, with a 25 foot drop and some
other slightly smaller big drops thrown
in for fun. As it's name suggests, be
aware of wood in the stream bed. I
would suggest scouting before
running this, or else going with
someone who knows it, as some of
the landings are tight.