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Level: Intermediate
Length: 30 mi (48.3 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +1,821/ -2,104 ft
Total: 540 riders

Mountain Biking Tsali Recreation Area

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#1 of 546 mountain bike trails in North Carolina
#14 in the world

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!

First added by Jeff Barber on Jul 21, 2010. Last updated May 11, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: yes
  • 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.
System trails (4)
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Tsali Recreation Area Trail map

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Local Info

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Trail checkins

B0B (on Oct 11, 2021)
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Trail conditions

Tacky (on Jul 25, 2020)
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Camping & Lodging

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Tsali Recreation Area videos

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Tsali- Last day and the Dr.…
Tsali mountain-bike trail
Tsali Trails: Ending
MTB trail at Tsali in Asheville,…
Tsali - Thompson Loop
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Bryson City, North Carolina

Beginner | 1.1 mi
| 12 mi

Rider questions

Q: is this trail open in the winter
A: Although it was cold, I've ridden the Tsali trails in January and February before...Never have known them to close during winter months.

Q: Do the trails close in the fall/winter or are they open year round?
A: I've ridden Tsal trails many times since 2004 and have never known them to close during winter...More specifically, I've ridden them in January and February in the past.

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  • Julio Rodriquez

    Been coming to Tsali since the 90’s. If you live fairly close I would recommend going once a year for a fun time. Enjoy!

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  • FarmerDobes

    Tsali is one of the finest rides to be found in Western NC. Great flow, incredible scenery, cool camping nearby and a real sense of being out there. A personal favorite and a place I'll be coming back to so long as I can pedal a bike.

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  • Superswede9

    Thompson Loop Trail is great for intermediate riding with scenic, rolling single track by Fontana Lake with climbs that won't kill you. Very fun trail!

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  • Rollin' a Giant

    Loved this trail. Highly recommend. One tree was across the trail, but it was immaculately well maintained. Will come back for sure

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  • Rollin' a Giant

    Super fun with a little bit of everything. Incredible views of Lake Fontana when you add in Overlook. Some tough climbs, but I never had to walk my bike.

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  • bkadkins

    Been cycling for years, but relatively new to mountain biking. Had a blast here after a 2 year break and found what I've been missing really quick! Great trail that kept me on alert and didn't disappoint. I felt like an Imperial biker scout on Endor. (Final descent, Thompson loop????)Had a few good challenging climbs and and even more challenging 1.5mile descent on the Thompson loop. Trail well maintained, maybe two or three narrow stretches to keep you guessing briefly, but more of a challenge than hindrance!!!! Ample rocks, roots and a few streams with rocks, and and switchbacks to keep things exciting. Several scenic spots to stop along the way. Close to several campgrounds. Highly recommend. Simply beautiful.

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  • rmap01   ✓ supporter

    Rode here last year and did both the Right and Left loops. These trails have excellent flow and you can pick up some serious speed. (Be forewarned: If you are looking for rocks or Pisgah-like tech riding you will not find it @ Tsali). For most of the ride the trails run along the mountain ridge. There's decent elevation change and one or two climbs where you'll really need to put the effort in. Take the time to ride out to the lookout points on the trail as the views of the lake are worth it.

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  • eddttt2
    Reviewing Tsali Right Loop:

    Not a real "loop", haha. Right "Loop" brings you out, then Left "Loop" brings you back (or vice versa). Might want long sleaves/pants as leaves & branches reach into trail and will be slapping you for a lot of the ride. Nice trails. Scenic views are kinda few & far between. LOVED the outside shower and bike wash station!

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  • Lynette Foster
    Reviewing Tsali Right Loop:

    Challenging climbing and great views of Fontana Lake. Take a rope. If you slip off the trails, you won't die but you may have trouble getting back up. Some sections are modestly washed out however manageable. Really great ride and the other riders were friendly and helpful (encouraging). I only pulled one tick off at the end.

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  • RiverSasquatch

    Came here yesterday for the third time. It's a cool trail for sure, but rode the the Right Loop and it was a mess. I had to clear a tree from across the trail about a mile in... it had been there a while. Made our way to the windy point overlook and had to get off and climb over a big tree. On the way down from the beautiful overlook, we decided to finish off the windy point trail and turn right... wow, what a mistake. We had to get off and climb over two large trees and duck under two more. To finish off the windy point trail the trail was overgrown in spots... briars, grass, and little trees... totally not impressed because last year it was the same. Hard to believe that a named trail at an IMBA Epic system can be that neglected. Especially with individual riders having to pay $2 for day use. I won't even mention the huge pile of horse crap in the middle of the county line trail as you go around the final gate. Cmon... put that money to work and make a great trail rideable again.

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  • ChainSuckSux

    I agree completely.

    Tsali is a fun ride. I've been going to these trails for almost 30 years, and I always look forward to coming back. I like that I can ride both right and left loops, as well as the overlook trails, and get some decent miles as a result, without having to ride too much fire road like you have to in Dupont and Pisgah. I'm not knocking DuPont or Pisgah, as I like those trails too. Tsali is just good old XC blazing fun.

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  • Lisak218

    This trail is a lot of fun. We did the left and right loops last week. Great condition in December. Hard packed with leaf cover. For a flat lander the trails make you work hard but if you're use to it, I could see it being easy. The downhills are fast and fun.

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  • sake

    Tsali is a good XC trail system. There really isn"t much technical terrain, just groomed trails with decent climbs and great views. I can't really figure out why it is always rated so highly except that it has been around for a long time. If I'm in that area of North Carolina, I much rather make the drive over to Brevard and hit Pisgah or Dupont.

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  • Shoeyjosh
    Reviewing Tsali Right Loop:

    Challenging climbs, but great views make it worth it. Downhill runs are fun. Needs jumps added to it. I'm more of a fan of the left loop.

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  • PGH Rider

    Nice place to learn or take your family. Little boring otherwise.

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  • DivotUSMC

    First time here. I am coming back. Right loop more challenging with climbs and roots. Left loop has the better views with about 5 miles of lake front riding. Great trail system.

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  • Richard Hespen
    Reviewing Tsali Right Loop:

    This trail meanders along the edge of the lake with great views and lots of climbing. The trail lacks good singletrack downhills and there is almost nothing technical. I enjoyed this trail.

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  • Deb Babcock

    LEFT Loop was very hard for me...coming from Fl and the flat lands. Lots of rocks, steep climbs,narrow cliff sides, and trees down. The other three loops were easier but I was surprised at how hard it was with the higher elevation.

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