This is a very good beginner / intermediate run. The first obstacle that you will encounter is a two to four foot ledge depending on the water level. This ledge can be portaged on river right. If you plan to run the ledge I highly recommend that you scout it. Watch out for the hydraulic at higher water levels. I usually run it on river right.
The next three to four miles have a couple of small ledges and some nice rapids.
The best rapid on the run is the Milky Way. The river narrows down in this area, and although it looks like you can get through on river right you can't. It is 75 to 100 yards of three to four foot waves. The most fun way to run it is right through the middle. Watch out for rocks on river left at the end of the rapid!
There are a couple of other rapids but they are class II-II+ (some are easy class III at different levels)
The takeout is located under the lowermost Hwy 25/70 bridge in Cocke County. It is public access with room for maybe 5-7 vehicles. There is a gravel/paved ramp for access directly under the bridge on river right. The put-in is located on the gravel road that leads to the French Broad Outpost Ranch (dude ranch). It is before the ranch, and there is a small sandy beach and a gravel parking lot for 7-8 vehicles. There is usually someone there fishing or horseback riding nearby. Both access locations mentioned here are public access.
The coordinates are just a close guess.
Some rapid names currently used by local guides and outfitters::
Mile 3: "Dynamite Ledge" class: II: named for the sharp rock resulting from dynamiting on river left when the RR was constructed. Best lines are river right and center, just left of the rock island.
Mile 3.5: "Tavern Rapid" class: II(III): Named for the Bobarosa Saloon, a biker bar on river right of some notoriety. Enter the rapid on river right to the sounds of Skynard and then work left to an obvious channel near river left at the bottom of the rapid. This rapid is almost a 1/4 mile long which could be inopportune for would-be swimmers!
Mile 5: "Galloping Sluice" class: II(III): at this point, all of the river flows into a river-left channel that then drops over a shoal/gravel bar to create a fast and fun wave-train. At 1500cfs the waves can reach 3 feet. At 3000cfs, the waves can reach 5+ feet! A large underwater rock extends 10 feet out from the left shore somewhere near the top of this rapid! This rock will clean your clock so have plenty of right hand boat angle and stay clear of the left shore! Swimmers should be very careful to keep feet up as swimmers have sustained injuries in this rapid!
Mile 5.25: "Zig-Zag" aka "Rib Cracker" class: II(+): a shoal that creates multiple small pourovers and holes depending on the level. Added challenge can be had by catching eddies along river left. The rocks in this rapid can be quite sharp and swimming should be avoided.
Mile 6: "Rollercoaster" class II: at this point the river drops about 6 feet over a gravel bar that creates a series of large standing waves. This rapid is quite fun and can easily swamp an open canoe. Large eddy at bottom of rapid makes for easy rescue.
There was lots of flat water when we ran this route, it was pretty fun still. I bet it would be pretty good when it starts getting around 2500-3000 cfs. Consider taking out near the large bridge which goes over the river, it would save you some major flat water on the way to the market.
The French Broad from Del Rio to Brigdeport is a pretty fun little ride.
Treat the falls with respect! Scout them well before you choose to run them. A local man drowned at the falls the day after we last ran it! We did this stretch on 22 July 2004 at a little under 2000 cfs. It was a great time but we used our heads, too! Just be ready to paddle some big calm stretches in between the fun rapids.
We actually put in on a road that appears to be an approach road to the Old 107 bridge. The RR Bridge listed I recall seeing about a half mile down stream. This means that the put in coordinates are also off about a half mile to the east according to TopoZone.com as well.
The put in and takeouts are both on Private Property as listed. Securing permission at the put in is no problem as the land owner lives on the propery. The take out is a small campground with a couple of trailers parked on it. The land owner does not live on the property. It took quite a bit of asking around to locate the land owner. Called him and was able to get permission to use the camp ground as a takeout. GPS coords for the take out appear to be about a half mile off. Takeout is actaully to the west. Its behind a small store with two gas pumps in front of it. At the end of the gas pumps is a small sign that says "Bridgeport Market". There is a dirt road at the east end of the Market's parking lot that goes down to the river and the camp ground.
French Broad near Newport gauge is best for this reach. You can use the section 9 gauge for this reach as well if you need to. Minimum levels are 900 cfs and maximum levels are roughly 3,500 for the class I-III rating.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Flatwater on section 11
The Falls/Dynamite Ledge
Dynamite Ledge aka "The Falls"
Milky Way Rapid
Just a paddle...
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