I was looking for an easy river to kayak for beginner kayakers to experience going from Point A to Point B on a lazy river. The trick was to get it short enough for them not to be exhausted and long enough to feel like an adventure.
The French Broad River, put in at Seven Island Wildlife Refuge/Kelly Lane and take out at Cruze Landing, is the PERFECT stretch for beginner kayakers! It's 5 miles with a combination of flatwater, and easy shoals.
It starts at Kelly Lane put in, a manicured area with an port-a-john. The first two miles are lazy and slow as the river bends around the Seven Mile Wildlife Refuge peninsula to the north. It's a great warm up before getting to the Seven Islands area.
At Seven Island it's wonderful, the river splits the island and the water speeds up. The island is one mile long. About half way up on the right side, the rock shoals started for us (may begin earlier if the water is lower). That was lunch, but next time, I will have lunch at the northernmost end of the island, where the island was split in three parts, and at the confluence, is a wonderful spot (looking up stream we saw a herd of deer crossing the river).
The water around the right side, at least, was a perfect adventure for beginners and lovely for everyone. It was swift moving, easy to negotiate, water.
The river opened up wide again, and I expected a slow moving river again, but no, it was swift for at least another mile.
Around mile 4 of 5 it slowed up again, but by that time no one wanted the adventure to end.
We ended at Cruze landing, just off Kodak Road.
We had novice kayakers including an 11 and 14 year old in their own kayaks.
Kelly Lane/7 Mile: Excellent, manicured, port-a-john, lots of parking.
Cruze Landing: smaller, no facilities.
Take Exit 402 off I-40, go south on Midway Road, until you hit Kodak Road, take left, then take right at church, follow signs to landing (Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge).
Cruze Landing - see above, at Kodak Road, Take right (heading downriver to the west/north). When road parallels river (several miles) there will be an RV park/Landing (private), then just ahead, on left there is a landing (CRUZE Landing).