Tsali Recreation Area

4.45 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
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Trail Check-ins
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Trail Photos & Videos (431)
Reviews (71)

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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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
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
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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July 24, 2014
Review: GREAT FAST AND FLOWLY TRAIL. Must ride in the southeast.

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June 29, 2014
Review: Just got back from a 3 day trip to Tsali with my teenage daughter who is a novice. Rode about half of the Right loop day 1 and all of the Mouse Branch loop day 2 with my daughter.

Right loop starts off very smooth and great for novice riders, and gets a little tougher as it goes, with a couple bail outs along the way. Mouse branch has some awesome sections, but starts off very rough, climbing a long, rocky fire road. My daughter did make it all the way around Mouse Branch, but it was pretty tough for her. After the ride, another rider told us that Thompson loop was the best for beginners, but unfortunately that was the only loop we didn't get to.

Day 3 I rode the Left Loop solo, and it was one of my favorite rides of all time. Long, fast flowing downhills, with a few moderately tough climbs. Left loop is not overly technical, but it is super fun, and has some of the most unbelievable views you will ever see on a bike, at least in the Eastern US. The Overlook loop adds an extra mile or so to the loop, and is an absolute must. The view from the top is amazing.

We camped at Turkey Creek campground, a mile down the road, which was very nice, clean, and affordable. Day 3 we went over to Nantahala Outdoor Center and rented a 2 man inflatable kayak called a "duckie" and rode the river, which was also a blast.

Overall, I LOVED Tsali and will be back for sure. My only gripe might be that the trails were a little over-grown in areas, but I suspect I might have caught them before a maintenance cycle as I have heard they are pretty good about doing trail maintenance there.

Great trails in a beautiful part of the country.

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May 19, 2014
Review: Simply awesome! Everything about theses trails are great! The Left Loop was the most grueling fun I have ever had!

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April 7, 2014
Review: Wow what a fun trail system. Everything here is awesome!! I drove up on a Saturday night and crashed in the camp ground which is put together very well, clean, and the spaces are spread apart far enough so that you're not squished up against the sites to your left and right.

The trails are put together very well and maintained with pride. Next time I come up it will be for two or three nights of camping and at least two full days of biking along with a possible kayak trip in the nearby river.
I highly recommend this place to anyone and everyone.

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January 4, 2014
Review: As someone who has ridden all over the country, I wouldn't even put the Tsali Trails in my Top 10. That is not to say it isn't a fun place to ride but 1. It is relatively flat so not only are there no extended climbs, there are no extended DHs either; 2. The mileage is limited unless you just want to keep going around the same loops all day. Those two things alone are the reasons I wouldn't rate this area as high as many others that I have ridden. It is a nice place to camp and ride for a couple of days though and compared to much of the Eastern riding. it is pretty good. It is a really good area for beginner/intermediate riders.

Similar Trail: Potowatami (MI), Tanasi (TN)

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Tsali Recreation Area MTB Trail 4.45 out of 5 based on 71 ratings. 71 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
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