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Swannanoa river kayaking

Any local help for put in/ take outs?

I paddle the French Br0ad at least once a week. Unpredictable schedule, so I solo upstream for 1-3  hours, depending on daylight and energy level, or time available.  My job is taking me closer to the Swannanoa, looking to put in downstream and paddle up. Any help is appreciated, unfamiliar with the area and the river.

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Re: Swannanoa river kayaking

Hello @Odemanrivvr ! I am new the area and live in Black Mountain so close to the Swannanoa River as well - and wondering the same exact thing! It depends on how long I have to yak, but usually it is 1-3 hours so wanted to get info on short runs in the area. Did you ever get any responses to your question that you could share? If not, anyone on here know of any sections or other Class I-II rivers that have shorter runs in the area? Thanks!

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Re: Swannanoa river kayaking

@meisha2244 (and @Odemanrivvr) - we've put a call out to a few of our North Carolina REI employees to see if they can weigh in! Hopefully they'll chime in soon!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
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Re: Swannanoa river kayaking

Hi there @meisha2244

This is a great additional question to the thread above! Shorter runs can be tricky to find, I myself have been trying to explore different aspects of the French Broad to discover new routes and not so heavily visited put-ins & takes-outs. I’m sure you’ve seen how weekends on the French Broad can get crowded quickly!

My first recommendation would be taking a look at the book: Carolina Whitewater, A Paddlers Guide to the Western Carolinas. There will be some great suggestions for the WNC area, outside of the shallow & rocky Swannanoa.

If you’re into pioneering the way, try a short section of Swannanoa from Owen Park to Old Farm School Road. If you look up a map using your favorite internet search engine, you can see where the River Trail for running & walking begins and ends. There will be some parking off the road on Old Farm School Road near the trailhead, which we’ve seen many people access for swimming & tubing.

Just keep in mind as you explore that there may be areas that are shallow, rocky, and have unforeseen obstacles.

Paddle on!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
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Re: Swannanoa river kayaking

Hi @Odemanrivvr

This is such a great question, you’ve got all us Asheville locals wondering too! Swannanoa is a great & interesting little river for tubing & finding swimming holes. The put-in and take-out areas are not widely discussed on the internet, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt and an attitude of exploration!

First thing to note, it may be difficult to paddle upriver on the Swannanoa as it is a shallow & narrow river, not typically ideal for kayaks- although you will see the occasionally bold paddler. There may be sections in which the water level is too low- which may result in you having to walk certain parts. Beware that sections can be exposed, rocky & have downed trees blocking your path. Best bet, tackle the Swannanoa on a day after heavy rainfall & be prepared for obstacles.

Your local REI Asheville currently sells a book by Bob & David Benner titled: Carolina Whitewater, A Paddlers Guide to the Western Carolinas. This book is a gem and has extensive details on local rivers, including the Swannanoa. Call the store to check for the current stock of this book.

One of the easiest ways to paddle up the Swannanoa is where it meets the French Broad River. French Broad River Outfitters does a paddling tour that guides you up the Swannanoa to gaze at the Biltmore Estate grounds, just remember, this is private property so please stay in your boat. This option still keeps you close to the French Broad, so may not be the adventure you’re looking for.

Headed further up the Swannanoa you’ll find Charles D. Owen Park for river access, which leads 8.2 miles downriver to the take-out at Azalea Park. This is an easy Class I-II section of the river, but again, may have some obstacles. While there is no official put-in area at Charles D. Owen Park, there is plenty of public parking and access to the river (you’ll see many a tuber floating on down there). The Park is close to Warren Wilson College and has a great walking running trail along the river where you will see families & friends dipping in for a swim, and potentially the occasional nude swimmer. Side note: this is my favorite trail for trail running!

Azalea Park has tons of roadside & public parking, drive there and scope it out! Be sure to pass the dog park on your left, as you continue down Azalea Road E you will see families & friends enjoying the river access. Azalea Road E follows the Swannanoa so you can keep an eye out for other parking areas that suite your needs.

My suggestion, take a practice run: grab a tube and a do a leisure float to explore Owen Park & Azalea Park, and see what you think. Please keep water levels in mind for your safety.

Another great resource for the rivers in the greater Asheville area are a few of our non-profit partners: Mountain True, RiverLink, and GreenWorks. Greenworks, in particular, has done some recent river clean-ups along the Swannanoa, where they use kayaks to help pull debris & trash from the river. They are a wonderful group, and I highly recommend volunteering with them. And as per usual, with any water voyage, we highly recommend referencing the Swim Guide for current water quality levels if you plan on taking a swim.

Paddle on!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
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