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Canoeing the French Broad River near Hendersonville Asheville

11-Mile Expedition

Our 11-mile paddle trip is a self-guided float from the Horse Shoe/Etowah public access past Lazy Otter HQ to the public Westfeldt access near the Asheville Airport and Sierra Nevada brewery, where you will be picked up by our shuttle bus and returned to your car at Lazy Otter HQ. 

The first four miles of the trip take you through the roadless and building-free Horse Shoe Bend section of the French Broad. If you like, you can take a break at Lazy Otter HQ before paddling the seven-mile section to Westfeldt Park, where we'll meet you to return you to your car at Lazy Otter.

Price: $50 per person in a Nomad solo kayak, Gemini tandem kayak, or canoe. $55 per person in a Juntos solo kayak or on a paddle board. Upgraded kayak seats are $7 each.


Meeting Location: Lazy Otter HQ


11-Mile Paddle FAQ:

  • How long will my trip take? Will we be given a deadline? We want you to be able to relax and go at your own pace, so most often we do not set deadlines or set pickup times, and instead use tracking devices to know when to come and pick you up with a minimum of "waiting around" for you. While everyone goes at their own pace, you should expect the 11-mile paddle trip to take 4-5 hours on the water (not counting any time you spend taking a break at Lazy Otter). While most of our scheduled trips are in the morning, when we add trips in the afternoon there is a deadline for completion of all trips of 5 p.m., with a late fee of $3 for every 5 minutes past 5 p.m. that you arrive.

  • Who can participate?  The minimum age to pilot a solo kayak is 13. An adult over the age of 18 must accompany any group of minors. Children ages 6 to 12 may ride as a passenger in a canoe or tandem kayak with an adult, but all children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times, and all participants of any age must be able to swim. A parent or guardian must sign a waiver for anyone under the age of 18 (not just the adult who brings the minor on the trip).

  • Is there a place to eat lunch?  The best idea is to eat lunch at Lazy Otter after the first found miles of your paddle. We have picnic facilities and a restroom you can use, and you can leave your cooler here so you don't have to pack it onto your boat. Most of the property along the river is private, but the Mud Creek campsite between Lazy Otter and Westfeldt Park is also an option for a stopping point.

General FAQ:

  • How often do trips run?  You can see all the available times and make reservations here.

  • Do I need reservations? Yes, to ensure equipment and shuttle availability for everyone and to keep our shuttles on schedule we require reservations. You can make reservations online, through your mobile device, or by calling our office. Please be sure to be 15 minutes early for your trip - if you're late it may be difficult to accommodate you.

  • What is the cancellation policy?  Trips must be paid for at time of booking, but cancellations with more than 24 hours notice will receive a full refund. That will give you a chance to check to make sure you're comfortable with the weather forecast, because trips run rain or shine (unless we cancel a trip for safety or other reasons, in which case you'll also get a refund). If you decide for weather-related or other reasons with less than 24-hours notice that you would rather go at another time we can generally accommodate that on a space-available basis. No-shows with no notice will not be refunded or rescheduled.

  • Do I have to wear a life jacket?  Yes. N.C. law requires the use of a PFD by anyone under the age of 13 on the water. While PFDs are legally optional but highly recommended for all other participants, Lazy Otter requires they be worn and they are included with your rental. By law PFDs must be accessible to everyone in a kayak, canoe or SUP (and worn at all times by anyone under 13).

  • What should I wear?  It's your call, but expect to get wet (even if you're going to try not to!). Quick-dry materials are usually preferable to cotton, and you should wear sandals or water shoes to protect your feet (not flip-flops). A change of clothes for afterwards is nice too.

  • Is alcohol allowed? N.C. law allows for alcohol consumption on public waterways, but public intoxication, underage consumption, boating while impaired and littering are all illegal and unacceptable and the use of alcohol can seriously impair a person's judgement and ability to manage risks. Soft-sided coolers are welcome on the river but no glass containers and no styrofoam. Please be sure all your trash makes it off the river (coolers are a good place to store empties!).

  • What is the river like?  It's great for calm-water paddling and tubing. While conditions will vary based on the weather and river level, our section of the river is deep enough that you will rarely have to "scoot" yourself on your tube or boat or run aground. There are some obstacles such as downed trees in the water, and low water levels will expose more hazards. Beginners should always paddle with someone experienced, and everyone should be comfortable controlling his or her boat! Always be sure to paddle well clear of any obstructions for safety's sake. Please respect all private property rights. You can view our photo tour of the Horse Shoe Bend section of the river to get an idea, and also get some tips about what kind of trip you might most enjoy.

  • Is the trip dangerous? All water-based recreation should be considered hazardous. However, this stretch of the French Broad is slow-moving and flat, so with safety precautions and awareness of your surroundings you should have a safe and fun time.

  • Are dogs allowed? Sorry, but animals are not allowed in our shuttle vans. If you would like to rent our equipment but shuttle yourself in order to bring your furry friend, we would be happy to accommodate you.

  • What should I do if I have a problem on the river?  In case of an emergency, call for help from 9-1-1 as soon as possible. We send a small cell phone/tracking device with each group in case of an emergency, and you may choose to bring your cell phone with you. You can bring your own waterproof case for your phone or buy one from us, but in any case you are always responsible for protecting your personal property. In the event of a non-emergency such as a popped tube, the best thing to do is continue down the river as best you can if it is safe. Our tubes are heavy-duty so you should be able to  avoid any puncture hazards, and we send a spare tube along with every group. The tubes also include a safety chamber and inflated back rest so you should still be able to use them to float and swim your way down the river if necessary. If you are unable to continue down the river safely but are not experiencing an emergency, alert our staff by phone or a message from a fellow floater and we will try to help you as soon as possible.

  • What should I do if a storm hits?  We cancel or postpone trips during lightning storms or when storms are likely, but mountain weather can be unpredictable. If a storm arises while you are tubing, avoid being near the tallest objects where lightning is most likely to strike, which may mean staying on the water. If you are on one of the longer paddling runs and can get to a bridge, that can be a safe place to take shelter. The NOAA has more information about lightening safety.

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