June 29, 2014
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.