Signs of Spring Guided Paddle in Beautiful Western North Carolina

25 Parkway Road, Rosman, NC, USA
Not Rated

3-4 hours


No Cancellation

Group Size

10 people



We offer our “Signs of Spring”, a series of guided paddling trips, on selected Saturdays from April through June. This guided canoe or kayak trip balances nature observation with the quiet relaxation of a morning outing. Departing at 10 a.m (you must arrive by 9:30 am) from Headwaters Shop, each trip includes all paddling gear, river shuttle, and guide service. Prior river experience is helpful, but not necessary. Reservations are required.

Little Sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum) is just one species found along the French Broad River during Headwaters’ Signs of Spring guided canoe trip. There are over 2,500 species of wildflowers and flowering shrubs in the southern Appalachians, and many of these can be found somewhere along the French Broad River watershed. Thanks to a variety of microclimates and abundant rainfall, the French Broad hosts a beautiful array of spring flowers. The “Signs of Spring” guided trip takes full advantage of this display.

Although you can certainly see spring wildflower displays while hiking, a canoe-eye’s view offers several advantages for experiencing the new seasons’ first blooms. The banks of the French Broad offer some of the richest soils for plant growth, courtesy of regular floods that deposit nitrogen-rich sediments onto the floodplain. Abundant moisture along the river’s banks also provides ideal habitat for riparian-loving species such as orange jewelweed (seen in June), crested dwarf iris (May), bluets (April), purple phacelia (April-May), monkeyflower (June), and bee balm (June-Sept.)

Flowers may be the chief draw of the “Signs of Spring” tour, but April, in particular, is prime time for birders interested in catching sight of spring migrants passing through. You may see a vireos, warblers, tanagers, flycatchers, wood ducks, Louisiana waterthrushes, Acadian flycatchers, belted kingfishers and great blue herons are regularly spotted by canoeists on the French Broad. Occasionally, an osprey or bald eagle will perch on a dead branch above the river, scanning the water below for vulnerable quarry.

River otter have really made a big comeback since the 1980s, when they were reintroduced to the Smokies. Beaver, fox, long-tailed weasels, mink and skunk can also be spotted along the French Broad.


  • Enjoy canoeing or kayaking down the first 8 miles of the historic French Broad river - the third oldest river in the world.
  • The Class 1 rates section is perfect for brand new paddlers, and is beautiful enough to welcome the most seasoned paddlers.
  • Fun for the whole family!

  • Canoe (max. 2 adults/2 small children) or kayak (solo or tandem)
  • PFD/life jacket
  • Riverside orientation and river map
  • Shuttle service to and from river access
  • Port-a-johns available at put in and take out along the river
  • Lunch/snacks/beverages
  • (Located next door to our shop is Forks of the River Tap Room along with rotating food trucks)
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses/weather appropriate clothing and shoes (no flip flops!)
  • Waterproof dry bags (available for purchase in shop)
  • Gratuity for your guide



0-3 Hours
3-6 Hours



Moderate (5+ Days in Advance)

Cognitive Impaired Friendly
Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Friendly
Family Friendly
Gender Inclusive
LGBTQ+ Friendly
Physically Disabled Friendly

Accessible Parking
All Gear Included
Group Discounts
Interactivity Shuttle Included
Some Gear Included

CPR Certified
Leave No Trace 101
Wilderness First Aid (WFA)


Activity's Location

25 Parkway Road, Rosman, NC, USA

What Should I Expect On This Trip?

Upon arrival at Headwaters Outfitters, (the entrance to river trip parking is located behind our river shop) you will complete check-in. You will then depart in our shuttle vehicle for a short 1 mile drive to Headwaters Outfitters private river access. There, you will be given an appropriate sized canoe or kayak, paddle and life jacket. And, yes, everyone is required to wear a life jacket! Our river staff will then complete a brief riverside orientation, help you into your boats and launch you on your downstream river adventure! Your canoeing or kayaking river trip will end at our campground river access point. Restrooms are available at the put in and take out points.

What Happens If There Is Bad Weather?

We run our river trips rain or shine! However, if there are active thunder/lightning storms we will not put you out on the water and we will reschedule you or issue a full refund. Additionally, we follow a river safety protocol and will not put paddlers out on the water if the river water level is above our safety cutoff. In the event of this we will reschedule you or fully refund. Please come prepared with weather appropriate clothing / gear.


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Headwaters Outfitters

Member Since 2024

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