Tsali Recreation Area

Forest in Nantahala National Forest

The Tsali Recreation Area has been famed among mountain bikers for so long that local riders rather take it for granted. For out-of-state visitors, though, it offers a great combination of challenging but not overly technical trails, spectacular lake-and-mountain views, and convenient access. All of the four main trails are categorized as moderate, incorporating waterfront stretches beside Fontana Lake plus significant climbs.

They trails are divided into two groups – the Mouse Branch and Thompson Loops, and the longer Left and Right Loops – each of which is reserved for bikers and horse riders on alternate days. The Left Loop is the toughest, with its steep ascents and narrow ledges, while novice riders can opt for a short 5-mile ride by tackling only a segment of the less demanding Right Loop. There are restrooms, showers and bike-washing facilities at the parking lot.