Tsali Recreation Area

4.42 out of 5
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↑ 6,000 ft
↓ 6,900 ft
elevation (ft)

Trail Description
About this trail
Tsali features four singletrack loops that hug the banks of Fontana Lake. The trails are super fast and flowy singletrack with mostly moderate climbs and amazing scenery.

Daily usage alternates between horses and bikes so you don't have to worry about running into spooked riders (check local park maps and signage). The trailhead features a bike wash station and there's also a nice campground with showers and flush toilets. Tsali is an IMBA Epic and with good reason!
added by Jeff BarberWorld Champ July 21, 2010
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
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Trail Q&A
Rider Questions


Q: Are some of the trails open to bikes every day or all the trails open to bikes every other day? -hproctor

A: Half the trails are open to biking every day. Example: RIght and Left loop open one day, Mouse and Thompson open the next day.

mudhunny answered on October 17, 2014. Did you find this helpful? Yes | No


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System Trails (4)
System Trails (4)
Tsali Left Loop
Tsali Mouse Branch Loop
Tsali Right Loop
Tsali Thompson Loop
Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
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Photo & Video Gallery (436)
Trail Photos & Videos (436)
Reviews (76)


August 5, 2015
man.cave Gramcounter  
Review: I rode Tsali again a few weeks ago, and I have to say, it is somewhat disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I respect what that trail was 20 years ago, but it is grown over in several places and just nothing there to write home about. It is just "OK" to todays standards. I don't plan on going back, unless something changes, Bent creek, Pisgah, and Dupont, are just so much better, and all 3 of those are different. If you like fast flowing lake trails, then the trails at Kerr Scott in Wilkesboro, NC are a lot better.

Similar Trail: OVT, Warrior Creek, Lake Norman State Park

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July 6, 2015
Review: From a flatlander down towards Charleston SC I was excited about getting back up to Tsali. Weather wasn't the best over the 4th. Held out till Sunday and was able to get a ride in on the Mouse and Thompson trail. Looking forward to the next time.

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July 2, 2015
aewynn0915 Gramcounter  
Review: good trails dont get me wrong but a little repetitive

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May 31, 2015
JTDavis Gramcounter  
Review: The trail system is enjoyable at an easier difficulty, it's fast and flowing and with an awesome view of Lake Fontana. It's fairly clean and easy to ride, I believe the difficulty comes from the length of trails and sections of uphills without many options of bailing out. Great area for instruction and introductory riders as well as intermediate and advanced riders looking to get some miles in.

Similar Trail: Lake Norman State Park, with less turns.

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Granny Gear

May 30, 2015
Review: Why this trail system ranks so high is beyond comprehension and completely laugable that it ranks higher than any western trail. This isnt even top 100 worthy much less top 5...wow...

This is a fun trail to take the kids for the weekend. Technical difficulty is comparable to riding your beach cruiser down the boardwalk but with even less things to run into. Actually riding the beach cruiser is probably exponentially more dangerous. This trail is super easy. Ranking it intermediate is pretty generous. This is a typical eastern trail on a small plot of land with lots of turns on leaf covered singletrack with not much if any elevation change for endless, boring miles. Ride it in late spring and early summer so at least the lake is full again (the water level is regulated by dams and such in winter months) so at least you get a few good views.

Do not drive more than a few hours to ride this trail you will be very disappointed.

Similar Trail: Morning work commute through the local elementary school soccer fields.

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April 30, 2015
Review: Meh...This trail network was the bomb circa 1993. Mountain bikes though, have come a long way since then allowing riders to take on much more technical terrain.
These days Tsali is considered vanilla compared to the techy awesomeness that is Brevard/Pisgah. I'm not sure how it still remains atop the singletracks ratings for NC.

Similar Trail: Your local greenway w/ a better view...

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Granny Gear

March 20, 2015
Review: The right and left loop are rather plain compared to warrior creek. long straight-aways with not much challenge, I was disappointed.

Similar Trail: Overmountain Victory Trail (OVT)

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February 2, 2015
sprodj Gnarly  
Review: Tsali is a great ride - pretty much any time of year. After doing essentially a 16 hour drive to get there (an overnight, I may add), a friend and I rode Left and Right loop on virtually no sleep. While the trails are the anti-technical, you can get some nice flow going throughout and the climbs aren't tough at all. The views of the lake are beautiful any time of year (we went in December), and the admission is well worth the 2 dollars - you can see the money is well spent as there were no downed areas where we rode.

If you're looking for something that will get your heart racing, Tsali isn't it - but if you're looking for an enjoyable ride in a scenic, mountainous part of the country, it's well worth the trip.

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January 2, 2015
climb_head Gramcounter  
Review: I rode the Right Loop. It was single track mostly hugging the contour around a man made reservoir. It is not technical and there is not much climbing or descending. These trails seem very popular but honestly I don't really think they deserve any special mention unless the Left Loop or Thompson are drastically different from Right Loop. I suppose one of the great things about these trails is the ability to camp right at the trailhead and ride two days in a row but overall I found this area to be not worthy of it's Epic Trail ranking.

Similar Trail: Rosaryville State Park, Dewey MD

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November 20, 2014
Review: I had heard many great things about Tsali, but had also heard that it could be boring to ride. Here are my thoughts:

BEAUTIFUL views throughout
Trails are in great shape and fun to ride
Easy with not much technical
Great length for a weekend worth of riding (about 45 miles total)

Can get boring. Same type of trails throughout
Hunters allowed in the area

We spent a weekend out at Tsali recently. We rode Mouse and Thomspon Loop on Saturday and the Right and Left Loop on Sunday. I was underwhelmed by Mouse and Thomspon on Saturday as it was pretty much the same exact type of trail the entire time. The view were good on those trails, but not as good as Sunday. I was disappointed that I had driven so far for an "epic" trail and that is what I got.

Left and Right loop (Sundays) is still pretty much the same type of trail riding all day long, but it does have a couple of slightly technical areas to keep things interesting. The views from the Left and Right loop are STELLAR though, and well worth the drive.

We combined the weekend riding with staying at Cherokee Casino, which is about 30 minutes from Tsali. Luckily we didn't lose all of our money on Saturday night at the casino, and didn't gamble our bikes away. 8-)

Tsali is definitely worth checking out. It would be great for a beginner/intermediate rider but advanced riders may get bored.

Similar Trail: FATS with views/Lake Norman State Park with views

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Tsali Recreation Area MTB Trail 4.42 out of 5 based on 76 ratings. 76 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
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