Headwaters Outfitters Celebrates 25th Anniversary


This summer marked the 25th anniversary of Headwaters Outfitters, the fly-fishing and paddling guide service and outfitter located on N.C. 215 at the headwaters of the historic French Broad River.

Founded in 1992 by owners David and Debi Whitmire, Headwaters has grown from a 10-canoe fleet operation to one of the leading outfitters in western North Carolina From April though October, Headwaters offers daily guided and self-guided paddling trips along the first 20 miles of the French Broad. From transportation to gear, Headwaters can fully outfit small and large groups for a day on the river.

Year round, Headwaters offers support to people paddling along the French Broad Paddle Trail, the first state canoe trail in the state. Fall is one of the favorite times for Headwaters’ staff to be on the water. While many people flock to high elevation overlooks to witness the fall foliage in western North Carolina, some of the best views of the autumn colors can be found along the river banks and reflecting off the area’s pristine waters.

Program Director David Whitmire and Head Paddling Guide Danielle Mathews will be leading a series of “Colors of the Fall” guided paddles throughout October. It is a great way to get out on the water with people who know the area and the river.

Headwaters’ “Discovery at Dusk” series goes through September and was recently featured in Southern Living Magazine. It’s perfect for those who enjoy watching wildlife or simply relaxing on a quiet evening on the French Broad River.

In the fall of 2012 Nat Geo named the Gorges of Lake Jocassee the ninth “Last Greatest Place on Earth” out of 50 natural wonders. It’s a place that Headwaters Outfitters has known and enjoyed for years, and for some of its staff, their whole life.

After Labor Day on select Thursdays through November, Headwaters provides an all-day guided excursion to Lake Jocassee. This trip provides the opportunity to see parts of Jocassee few get to experience, including Laurel Fork and Mill Creek Falls.

There are more than 200 miles of public trout fishing waters right outside Headwaters’ backdoor, and fall is a prime time for trout fishing throughout western North Carolina. Headwaters’ fly fishing program was started in 2008 and was recently recognized as Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Top Fly Fishing Outfitter. Also, Headwaters’ private water sections along the North and West Forks of the French Broad River and on the Wild and Scenic Horsepasture River provide solitude and a chance to land a fish of a lifetime.

The Headwaters Outfitters retail shop is open year-round and offers some of the top brands in paddle-sport and fly fishing. Test drive a new boat right outside the shop or cast a few fly rods to ensure your new setup is what you are looking for. Need a new life jacket? The retail shop provides everything you need, from T-shirts to top-rated performance wear and gear, along with a knowledgeable staff ready to help.

The Forks of the River Taproom is also located on site and provides six local beers on tap (all brewed along the French Broad Watershed), along with a variety of canned and bottled beer from breweries around WNC. On certain days, food trucks can be found parked out front, including Blue Smoke BBQ, an award-winning local food truck.

Headwaters Outfitters is proud to be a family owned and operated business in Transylvania County and the town of Rosman, and is equally proud of the 25 years of serving, protecting, and conserving the French Broad River and its watershed.

From river cleanups to clearing log jams and bank restoration, Headwaters has seen the health of the French Broad improve and has seen more people invest in its future. To learn more about Headwaters Outfitters, visit www.headwaters outfitters.com.


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