/ Places You Helped Protect, Trails and Recreation,

18 Acres on the French Broad River Protected for Public Access

People tubing on the French Broad River in Transylvania County. Photo courtesy of Brevard Tubing.


By Torry Nergart, Stewardship Manager at Conserving Carolina.

You’ve probably driven past it hundreds of times without noticing, or maybe on the occasion of a Spring flood (aka ‘freshet’) paid mind to the water stacking up against Patton Bridge. Perhaps you remember when the land was planted with nursery stock, a good use for places that flood often. Those unsold trees and shrubs have long since grown past a diggable size, and driving by in the most recent Summer you’d see people in pink tubes floating by, looking like neon Cheerios in chocolate milk. Times change, and we as a society are valuing public access to natural places more, trying to restore a connection to place and all the living things that make up our home. Outdoor recreation is a vital part of restoring this connection, and Conserving Carolina together with MountainTrue has protected another 18 acres for these purposes.

Turn off Old Hendersonville Highway onto Everett Road, cross over what will soon be the Ecusta Trail, and just before crossing the French Broad is land recently purchased by Conserving Carolina. While not currently open to the public, the land will become a part of our State Trail system- the French Broad River Paddle Trail.

Aerial perspective of the Everett Road access site. Photo courtesy of Jack Henderson and SouthWings.

MountainTrue is the non-profit partner to North Carolina State Parks for the Complete the Trails Fund, a legislatively appropriated fund to build out our State’s 14 trails. A State Trail is different from a State Park, being “composed of multiple, connected sections and, as a whole, epitomizes partnerships. Each section of the trail is sponsored by a federal, state or local government agency, nonprofit organization or private landowner” according to NC State Parks. MountainTrue helps manage river accesses and campsites from Mile 0 all the way to the Tennessee State Line, and intends to construct a primitive campground here at the new site on Mile 26.

The site is highly disturbed, but has great potential for restoration. Photo by Torry Nergart.

The site was identified in the Strategic Master Plan for the French Broad River Blueway, a plan developed by Conserving Carolina in 2021 with funding support from the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority. It’s situated along the ‘Muskie Mile,’ it has a great deal of floodplain restoration potential, and it has some natural area left suitable for a canoe-in campsite. In short, needs work but it is good work to be done. Also Conserving Carolina and MountainTrue intend on creating public access for launching and landing recreational boats, creating another option for river trip length and destination.

An example of a completed boating access site on the French Broad River in Penrose.

Jack Henderson, MountainTrue’s French Broad Paddle Trail Manager, says “I’m incredibly grateful and stoked to be leveraging the French Broad’s status as a State Trail to not-only hopefully reimburse Conserving Carolina for the acquisition, but to also support the development of public access and riverside camping. Our Little River campsite, just four miles downstream of Everett Road, is one of the most popular sites along the Paddle Trail, and thus we’ve been looking to expand opportunities to distribute use and add additional opportunities in this lovely section of river. We’ll be working with Conserving Carolina to create a campsite on a select portion of the newly-acquired property, which will have a river-facing sign, small set of stairs, picnic table, fire ring, and elevated composting toilet.”

In the meantime, Conserving Carolina will offer to continue leasing to the Brevard Tubing company, we’ll take on the kudzu on site, and work towards reconnecting the floodplain to the river. We may host special events there too, and if you’d like an invite, consider joining our Transylvania French Broad River Stewards volunteer group or becoming a member of Conserving Carolina. So keep on floating the French Broad how you see fit, by jon boat, paddleboard, tube, canoe- we’ll keep protecting and restoring it. See you on the water.

Boys tubing along the French Broad River in Transylvania County. Photo courtesy of Brevard Tubing.

Conserving Carolina, your local land trust, works to protect, restore, and inspire appreciation of nature. Learn more and become a member at conservingcarolina.org.

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