Asheville, NC area,, Eastern TN,Virginia

Heading south from CT to the Asheville NC area this upcoming summer (2015) and looking for nice ponds or small lakes that I might enjoy on the way down or back nearby to the major routes in the areas I might pass by. Have not decided route I’ll be taking yet So any great suggestions that are beautiful or your favorites would be appreciated as possibilities. Love places with wildlife and unique things to see and experience. Thanks. Chris

Going down 81?
South of Asheville there are plenty of lakes.

Not so much along 81. Its a one day drive for me from CT and I go over high areas in PA.

You will cross several rivers.

What ever you do…
don’t plan on paddling in any of the NC or TN lakes on the weekends in the summer.

There are way too many power boats towing skiers and lake lice.

Week days before lunch time is OK

Jack L

From many years of experience !!!

Some WNC
ideas here - - Lk Tugaloo and some N Georgia lakes suggested, the water quality is very good on WNC area lakes.

CT to NC,east Tenn,.Virginia and more
Not really sure of route I’ll take, just want it to include some nice paddling areas. Rivers are usually out of the question as you usually need a shuttle vehicle back to car so will more than likely stick with reasonable sized quiet water lakes or larger ponds. Neat special areas that I don’t need to worry about big boats ruining a nice paddle. Must be some good ones that I can enjoy and not too far out of the way. Looking for spots in Virginia, W. Virginia, Pa., Tenn.and South Carolina in the area of south of Asheville, NC. Just want to add to my bucket list of paddling in every state so that’s why no specific route from CT yet. Lots of time to plan later. I’d be happy to keep anyone,s secret special spots just that for a memorable paddle that would include wildlife and beautiful views. Thanks for any suggestions

There is an outfitter in Asheville
that runs trip on the very easy town run. Maybe 5-6 miles and goes by Biltmore Estates. The outfitter’s trips start at the take out, their facility, around 8 AM. Most of the land around the river, the French Broad, is heavily forested, and there will be stuff blooming even in summer. There is some highway noise, especially near I-26, but it’s not too bad.

Sorry I don’t recall the name of the outfitter, but googling canoeing and Asheville should bring the name up.

Asheville Outdoor Center
Dave the owner is a great guy too

We do the two day French Broad Classique race there every year and he is one of the sponsors.

Day two ends at his place and that is where the award ceremony is.

Jack L

what ever you do…
what is your definition of lake lice? Sounds like a good laugh at something I might run into even up here if I went paddling on a big lake or river on a weekend up here!!! Just curious.

Jet Skis
Sorry, I thought everyone knew what those pesky things were

Jack L

East Tn.
I live in east tn. I really know nothing about lake lice. maybe the pollutants in the lakes here keep them killed out. Ha. I have been on most all lakes in this area. There is south Holston lake in Bristol tn which is a very clean and pretty lake. It sits near the north Carolina mountains. It does get busy on the weekends, but I don’t know if it gets bad enough to stay off the water. If camping would suggest Little oak campground.

you didn’t mention
what you will be paddling

trip planning
we’ll be paddling some not so fancy rec boats that we just like for the poking around in places and not having to worry about scratching them up. had them for years and as much as I think about upgrading, these just do everything I want and that’s whats important. I’m never in a race when I get out on the water, I’m too busy taking in everything! Plus they’re light enough for me to handle alone and they hold the stuff I want them to hold for my time on the water. I can paddle with a couple breaks for stretching up to 8 hours in them but usually 4-5 is the average.

Wildlife and Unique Views
For wildlife and unique (maybe once on a lifetime) I have two suggestions. First, boundary channel and the Potomac River near the National Mall in Virginia/DC. Put in a Columbia Island Marina (free parking, no launch fee). Head north along the channel (within several hours of high tide to avoid portage). The channel will bring you to the Potomac River east of Theodore Roosevelt Island (TRI). From there you can go left around TRI and downstream on the Potomac or right, straight onto the Potomac. On the channel you see an amazing amount of wildlife (considering you’re in a major metropolitan area). On the Potomac you see Georgetown, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Memorial Bridge, Lincoln and Washington memorials, the Pentagon. You can also follow the Potomac a little farther south to Reagan Airport and watch flights from the end of the runway… (,-77.0495318,1113m/data=!3m1!1e3).

Second, Mallows Bay (on the Maryland side of Potomac) just south of DC. You can kayak between and around shipwrecks. ( There is a boat launch and new kayak ramp really close at Wilsons Landing. Be careful kayaking around the sunken ships, there are still portions (including rebar) of the wrecks sticking out of or just below the water surface. You can see the outlines of the ships on Google Maps… (,-77.268607,559m/data=!3m1!1e3).


FYI…in SC…
…don’t forget to check out Lake Jocassee on the SC/NC border. You can get additional info at SCDNR.

another DC area reco
do the George Washington Patowmack Canal loop… put in at Violette’s Lock on the C&O Canal, ferry across the Potomac River staying above the breaks, enter the former canal on the VA side and enjoy paddling through mild rapids, braided channels and overgrown islands. Ferry back to the MD side at the bottom of the run, carry over into the C&O Canal and paddle back up to the lock. A unique paddling destination with a fascinating history and stunningly beautiful portion of the river.

If you are headed down I-81
check out Claytor Lake near Radford, Virginia. It is right off the Interstate. I used to paddle there all the time back when I was a grad student at VA Tech.

Nantahala Lake
Near Asheville, google it for more info and you’ll likely have to ask the locals how to get to it, but it’s worth the effort…



Any whitewater
or rock gardens on the French Broad run that goes by Biltmore? TIA


None there, but up stream a few miles
there is “Long Shoals”

They are a few hundred yards long, and easily runnable if there is plenty of water.

There is nothing tricky about them unless the water is low. then you will be bouncing off rocks

Going by Biltmore is just smooth with a current, (some times fast and other times slow)

There is an up coming two day race there in a few weeks, and the second day goes right by the Biltmore

Jack L

Jack L

Jack, thanks

I’ve run the upper Fr. Broad, out od Bravard, in my WW days, but now looking for something on it that won’t destroy my quietwater canoes or me. I appreciate the info.