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Level: Intermediate
Length: 11 mi (17.7 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +376/ -325 ft
Total: 365 riders

Mountain Biking Tsali Left Loop

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#30 of 546 mountain bike trails in North Carolina
#608 in the world

This is one of the longer loops that the world renowned Tsali trails has to offer. Start at the parking lot and follow the signs for the Left loop trail. The first 4 miles of the trail is relatively flat, while the next four miles is composed of tight singletrack hills that wind up towards the ridge line. At the 8 mile mark, County Line Rd. takes you back to the parking lot and coincides with the Right loop trail. County Line Rd. is double track leading down towards the parking lot.
Find out about camping at Tsali.

First added by searsandrewj on Jan 1, 2003. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
"From Bryson City, take Hwy. 19 towards Andrews. Go right onto Hwy 28 North. Tsali is on the right, approximately 3.5 miles. Follow the gravel road about 1.5 miles to trail head.
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Tsali Left Loop Trail map

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brian1675 (on May 29, 2022)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Jul 2, 2019)
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Tsali Left Loop videos

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Tsali Left Loop
Tsali - SERC#3 course FM:Race pre-ride
Demo Ride Tsali Specialized Epic 08
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Bryson City, North Carolina

Beginner | 1.1 mi
| 12 mi

Rider questions

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  • Jeff Houston

    Mostly dry. A lot of leaves..to be expected for this time of year. There were about 6-8 fallen trees on the trail. I cleared what I could. Overall a fun ride. The right loop was much more clear.

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  • djcmmoore   ✓ supporter

    Restrictions - Open to mountain bikes on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and horses on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
    1:52 average time for 14.0 miles.

    Details - The Tsali Left Loop - Entire Ride combines the Tsali Left Loop and the County Line Road to form a complete loop out along Fontana Lake and back to the trailhead. This ride is part of an IMBA Epic trail system. The Tsali Left Loop itself is entirely singletrack, while the County Line Road is an old gravel-surfaced fire road.

    Along this ride, you'll encounter very little in the way of technical challenges, although a few sections along Fontana Lake have become somewhat technical.
    Description - The Tsali Left Loop itself is entirely singletrack, while the County Line Road is an old gravel-surfaced fire road. Along this ride, you'll encounter very little in the way of technical challenges, although a few sections along Fontana Lake have become somewhat technical due to erosion and undercutting from the lake causing some trail sections to become narrow, and in some places, almost collapse.

    The singletrack section is very scenic, mostly smooth, and flows relatively well in spite of steep drop-offs toward the lake. Shortly after beginning this ride (which goes clockwise), you'll pass an old homesite on the left; only a stone chimney remains. Towards the end of the singletrack section, the trail rises to a bluff overlooking Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park across the lake. This overlook is even more spectacular in the late spring (May and June) when the mountain laurel are blooming.

    The singletrack eventually gives way to the old fire road--a 2.5 mile gravel lane leading back towards the trailhead. Although the County Line Road is wide and generally smooth in spite of the gravel, it has a few steep sections and some sections suffer from erosion. This section snakes its way along the backbone of the peninsula jutting out into the lake. It doesn't require much skill, but it's challenging enough to require that you be in decent shape.
    Land Manager: USFS - Nantahala National Forest Office
    Local Club: SORBA - Nantahala Area

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  • MTBCrash29   ✓ supporter

    A wonderful trail system. Left loop is a very scenic ride that offers plenty of technical challenges along miles of flowing trails along the lake. A few small cool jumps that offer some additional fun along the trail. This trail may not be the best of the Tsali trails but you should not miss it while at the Tsali trail system.

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  • Lee Harris

    This trail offers great views of the lake and has a few sketchy places along it. There is a short rock garden that is pretty technical along the lake edge. The problem is that it's on the side of a cliff which drops 20'-30' to the lake edge. The lake has been low for years so you land on rocks if you fall not the lake. My buddy went over his handlebars here but luckily didn't fall off. Trail is good through just walk this if you are worried. Some big uphills on this loop as well.

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  • LucindaInGA

    Not really technical, a little rocky in places. Amazing views, which is what this trail is known for. Rode this clockwise and then took the Right Loop, which makes for a huge outer loop (no need to ride the county road). Definitely take the optional overlook loop. Just, overall, a fantastic ride.

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  • ****

    Great XC single track. Nothing technical. Fun, flowy ride.

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  • Jeff Barber

    This is a fun loop, though I have to say between left and right, I prefer right slightly more.

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  • foxrider71

    Excelent trail! The first six miles are very fun with a combination of many short and not so steep climbs and very fast rolling downhills. Between miles six and eight you'll find the toughest climbs. Please make the extra effort to do the Overlook loop. There is an amazing view of Fontana Lake and surrounding mountains at the top and then there is an awesome and bit tougher downhill section to get back to the Left loop. After that, a few more ups and downs until you go down fast the main jeep road for about 2.5 miles. Total length 12.5 miles (approx). The trail was in great conditions all the way and a cool 64 deg temperature at 8:00 am (in the middle of summer!). The recommended route (clockwise) is the best way to enjoy this trail.

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  • khomes7

    Wow I loved this system. Ride clockwise and enjoy the view. Not very technical but some nice climbs. Breathtaking views

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  • MM1

    We'd ridden Tsali in '99 & '04 but missed the left loop and were wanting to ride it all these years. We finally did this past Fri., what a rush! Left loop
    is the crown jewel of Tsali and not for novices. The views of the lake are awesome and the overlook is breathtaking! We had a great time and were in no hurry. I got a lotta Contour HD video and we really enjoyed the ride. There are some narrow sidehills, one really tight turn with very little room for error. Other than that, I found it very doable. The climb right before the overlook was long for this Floridian and we had to rest a bit. But we made it and the DH that followed was badass! I highly recommend this trail to anyone intermediate or better. We rode it in the suggested, clockwise, route and it's the best way. That way you do the climbs fresh and scream down the gravel on the dbl. track shared with right loop back to your car. There are several picnic tables for afterwards. Bring your lunch, you'll need it!

    * Review edited 10/10/2012

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  • jfigel76

    A must do for mountain bikers. This area was designed by mountain bikers. Great views of lake and trail was awesome. Been here 2 x over the past year and now I want to go back. Directional, no dabs, or dismounts.

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  • lslick23

    Great trail very fast with a Fantastic view on outlook point. Cant wait to do the other loops.

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  • gyuziuk

    Tsali Left Loop offers gorgeous views of the lakes and surrounding mountains while snaking around the coves. It's quite a good workout, though not really steep like some parts of Bent Creek are. I love the old chimney and foundation, and the tight single track lined by walls of rhododendron and mountain laurel in some places.

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  • connorbug1

    Rode a few years ago. Awesome.

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  • GoldenGoose

    Great singletrack that stays right beside the shore line of lake Fontana for miles. There is very little technical challenge to the trail and you can easily do both the right and left loops in the same day. Take the time to check out the overlooks. Don't forget that traffic flows in both directions on these trails so be careful.

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter

    The best loop at Tsali! The trail is right above the water for most of its length, and there is basically zero navigating that needs to be done. Its just one long, beautiful singletrack trail!

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  • scout_about

    I rode all four trails at Tsali last weekend. I liked this one the best. I feel it is superior to the Right Loop in many ways; I felt it flowed better overall, it's down hill sections were more fun, I felt it was more technical overall and it had better views of the lake. We also did it when it was 45 degrees and pouring rain, so I might liked it even more. I still like it a lot and if you could only ride one, I would go with Left over Right.

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  • rich67

    Totally awesome. Wow. Rode this 09/09, and I'd have to say the left loop is awesome. Great lake views (took a dip too-water was perfect), KILLER downhills, and some challenging uphills. I rode the trail from the "suggested" trail marker at the horse parking lot at the top of the gravel hill. I can say that you'd be best off going this way- the first part of the trail offers some awesome undulating hills, and you get some amazing downhill toward the end of the trail. If you ride it the opposite way, you're missing out on some of the gradually sloping downhills where you can really get some speed. Plus, I was able to take the gravel road DOWNHILL at the end, which was fun as well.

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  • natedogg

    Tsali in general is SOLID trail riding. Lots of fun, moderate climbing, GREAT views, trails well maintained and marked, and a few fun downhills. Granted, it's not very technical, but what do you want?!? It's FUN!! Me and about 6 others do a trip down from Pittsburgh every fall. We've ridden all the loops, and I'd say Left Loop is the best, but c'mon, you gotta do'em all!!* Review edited 11/12/2008

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