The dog days of summer.

Tubing the French Broad River is a quintessential Asheville experience, one which combines languid, fluvial enjoyment with artistic urban charm. You will float through forests, breeze past breweries, and find ample opportunity to shore up for local brews, bonfires, and food trucks. It’s no wonder that tubing has become a time-honored tradition here in North Carolina’s biggest little city.

What to expect

Get ready for a pleasant and peaceful day on the water. There are no rapids within this section of river, only ripples, so allow yourself to relax and let the current gently carry you away. It’s quite possible to float the whole river without getting wet, although you’ll probably choose to swim or get blasted by the water cannon at the Asheville Outdoor Center.

Be prepared for a highly social excursion. While there are plenty of places to find solitude on the French Broad River, this section is not one of them. On any given summer day you can expect legions of floaters, creating a festive and convivial atmosphere.

What to Bring

Now this is how you partake in one of Asheville's greatest summer traditions
Partake in one of Asheville’s greatest summer traditions
Melina Coogan

Aside from a raft, water shoes, and the recommended PFD, the seasoned floater will bring along a well stocked cooler filled with snacks, ice water, and beverages. Glass containers and littering are strictly prohibited. A tube paddle is optional, but can help you keep up speed during particularly slow sections. Remember to bring water, a change of clothes, your ID, and plenty of sunscreen. Frugal Backpacker (52 Westgate Parkway in West Asheville) sells fun tubes with lots of personality and can inflate them while you wait.

Getting In

The French Broad from above.
The French Broad from above.
Melina Coogan

As you plan your excursion, take into consideration how many miles you’d like to cover, time in the sun, and how eager you are to hang out at your take-out location. Float times will always depend on water levels. A few tube rental options exist, but if you plan on tubing more than a couple of times, you’ll come out better by purchasing your own.

For an extended day on the river, begin at Hominy Creek River Park in West Asheville, just north of the Biltmore Estate. A second option, Carrier Park, is located about a mile and a half downriver or about a forty five minute float from Hominy Creek. For a shorter day, put in at Jean Webb River Park, two miles (about an hour and fifteen minute float) from Carrier.

All three parks offer stacked concrete steps for easy entry. In addition, a number of informal pull-offs and sandy shoals offer even more opportunity to get in the water. Always be minded of private property.

Many riverside businesses offer and encourage river access, too.

Getting Out

A summer evening at The Wedge Brewery.
A summer evening at The Wedge Brewery.
Melina Coogan

While nothing beats a day on the river, some Asheville locals believe that the real fun begins at the take-out. That’s because riverside bars and restaurants offer a seamless transition between cold river and cold beverage, no driving necessary.

 

The Wedge Brewery is just downriver is a most popular take-out for those who put in at Hominy Creek or Carrier Park because of the public parking lot under Haywood Road. The Wedge is a unique brewery that features outdoor seating in an eclectic and inviting ambience. Split a pitcher and a bucket of peanuts, or grab a bite from one of the on-site food trucks such as El Kimchi or Melt Your Heart Grilled Cheese.

Continue on to New Belgium Brewery and Salvage Station. Your final stop on “The French Broad pub crawl” might be the one-two punch of Ole Shakey’s and The Bywater Bar. Between the live music, lawn games, and folks milling between bonfires, you may feel as if you’ve stumbled upon a summer camp for grown-ups. Both are private clubs, so check with them before tubing to find out membership criteria.

Just remember that someone still has to drive the shuttle back to the put-in, so plan accordingly. Also, keep in mind bars and restaurants along the river are businesses. Locals know it’s bad etiquette to park several empty cars in their lots while spending hours on the river. Leave one car at your exit location and check with the establishment to make sure it’s okay.

Rentals and Shuttles

Slow current makes for a peaceful float.
Slow current makes for a peaceful float.
Melina Coogan

If you’re visiting, Asheville Outdoor Center and Zen Tubing offer rentals and shuttle services for a variety of river sections at affordable prices. If you live in the area and plan on tubing more than once or twice, Frugal Backpacker (52 Westgate Parkway in West Asheville) sells tubes and inflates them while you wait.

More to Explore

Has tubing “wet” your appetite for the river life? There are some fantastic opportunities for adventure along the 140 miles of the French Broad River. Check out The French Broad Paddle Trail for a multi-day river trip or bounce down the class III rapids of Section 9 by raft or kayak. This ancient river is one of Asheville’s greatest assets—go forth and explore!

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Featured image provided by Eli Duke

There are few things as romantic as a great day outdoors – stunning overlooks, rushing falls, and the shared experience of overcoming obstacles together. Whether you’re looking to hit the trail with a new crush or your main squeeze, the Asheville area is full of scenic trails long and short, that are sure to fan the flames of romance. Here are 7 of our favorite spots for an outdoor date.

Getting to Know You

  • French Broad River Greenway: This stroll is perfect for new relationships. It’s scenic, yet close to town, well trafficked, and gives you the opportunity to walk as much or as little as you’d like. We recommend meeting up at the Craven Street parking area. Its close proximity to New Belgium and White Duck Taco make it excellent for grabbing a post walk bite or brew.
  • Richmond Hill Park Trail: A close to town option, that offers a more wooded and slightly more secluded feel. Richmond Hill’s trails offer options ranging from a 3.5 mile loop to a short out and back. Wanna switch things up? The park also features a great disc golf course. If things go well, wrap up your date with a cocktail and views of the French Broad at The Bywater.

The Next Level

  • Craggy Pinnacle Trail: Ready to commit to a romantic drive on the Parkway? A 45 minute drive will get you to the parking area of Craggy Pinnacle. It offers sweeping 360 degree views without a lot of effort. The short length of this trail (.9 mile roundtrip) makes it perfect for a sunset picnic. The high elevation means it’s always colder here than you think; don’t forget to bring blankets and hot beverages.
  • Max Patch: Whether you opt for the 1.4 mile short loop or the 2.4 mile loop, this hike on the AT offers some of the best views around. If you’re out that way in April, pack in fresh cookies or other goodies and share a little “trail magic” with passing AT hikers. You’ll have a great day meeting new people, and it’s a surefire way to impress your date.

Getting Real

  • Graveyard Fields: What could be better than an easy hike great views and wild blueberries? How about ending your hike with refreshing waterfall dip? This 3.2 mile hike has it all. Don’t forget to pack a picnic for a perfect day outdoors.
  • Cat Gap Loop and John Rock: This 4.4 mile hike is fairly difficult, so make sure you come prepared with proper footwear and trekking poles. If you and your date are up for the challenge, your hard work will be rewarded with fantastic views of some of Pisgah’s most iconic landmarks. End your day with a pint at Ecusta Brewing and some Hawg Wild BBQ for a perfect day in Pisgah.
  • Graybeard Trail: This lengthy out and back is great for a full day of hiking or a nice overnight. After about an hour and a half on the trail, you’ll encounter a beautiful waterfall. Push another 45 minutes (just past the shelter) for even more fantastic views. If you’re ready for an overnight, there are great campsites near the waterfall and, of course, at the shelter.

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