It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been over 12 years since I last mountain biked the trails at Tsali. As I’ve started ramping up my bike mileage, a visit back to Tsali has been on this summer’s “to do” list. From everything I’ve read and heard, it’s still ranked as one of the top 10 mountain biking locations in North America. All I can say is that in the 12 years since my last visit, it’s only gotten better.
It’s still composed of 4 main loops (about 40 miles) that alternate between mountain bikes and horses depending on the day of the week. Although I did see a few hoof marks and a couple of horse trailers, I get the impression that there’s much more biking these days. The biggest change since my last visit is the road to the campground is now paved and a bike washing station has been added at the trailhead. The trails are still in great shape and the facilities at the Forest Service campground are excellent. The trails are technical enough to entertain experienced riders but still accessible for beginners. As the saying goes, it’s “fun for the whole family.” The campground usually fills up by Friday night, so arrive early if possible.
It’s such a treat to be at a campground where almost all the campers are active. With 42 sites, there’s probably an average of 2 to 3 mountain bikes per site. And with Fontana Lake and the Nantahala Gorge only minutes away, 1 out of 3 sites probably has a kayak or canoe as well.
Next up on this summer’s “to do” list for mountain biking: the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake.