Trails in the Tsali Recreation Area Trailhead Area

This is your complete guide to the trail network of Tsali.

Here is a list of trails in the Tsali Recreation Area Trailhead area. For more information and a map (where available), click the trail name.

Left Loop

More Difficult, 11.9mi, Hilly, Some Obstacles

USGS/USFS Number: 38A
Longest Tsali trail. Starts with a roller coaster ride along the lakeshore that you can control! Trail dips into a cove, crosses a creek, then emerges to zoom along the lakeshore time and again. Toward the overlook, the trail moves into the interior hills of the peninsula. Here, there are rolling sections, and 2 relatively long climbs, followed by 2 steep downhills; the second downhill has several great jumps. Further on, a very muddy creekside climb is followed by a fast, rolling cruise that connects to Overlook Loop (see description below). Loop is completed with a ride along County Line Road (doubletrack/gravel) which is shared with Right Loop.

Mouse Branch Loop

Moderate, 6.5mi, Hilly, Some Obstacles

Has one long, fast singletrack downhill, with a gradual climb up to it. Good views, trail passes over neat clearcut hills--in one spot, you can see the trail snaking over on the next ridge. Watch how quickly the forest can change as you go in and out of coves and along ridges. Connects to Mouse Branch Overlook Loop (see description below).

Mouse Branch Overlook Loop

Moderate, 2.5mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

A new addition. One way trail (counter-clockwise). Good view from the overlook, not as spectacular as the one from Overlook Loop but well worth the ride out there. You can see some neat islands down in the lake. This extension also has some great downhills, which makes it even more worthwhile.

Right Loop

More Difficult, 11mi, Hilly, Few Obstacles

USGS/USFS Number: 38
Shorter loops possible using connector trails. Some lakeshore riding, lots of hilly interior riding with a few steep, challenging spots. Has lots of great jumps. Has a few creek crossings, one of which is done on a brand new bridge. Sections are fast, buffed, winding, narrow, sidehill singletrack that clings to the side of a mountain. Be sure to keep a finger on the brakes in those outside curves--to avoid a trip off the side of the mountain! Intersects a side out-and-back trail to Windy Gap overlook--worth riding for the trail itself, not really the "overlook". Also intersects Overlook Loop and Left Loop (see descriptions below). Loop is completed with a fast, smooth ride along County Line Road (doubletrack/gravel) which is shared with Left loop.

Right Loop Connector 1

Easy, , Climbs Gently, Few Obstacles

Right Loop Connector 2

Easy, , Climbs Gently, Few Obstacles

Right Loop Overlook

Moderate, , Hilly, Some Obstacles

Thompson Loop

Moderate, 7.7mi, Hilly, Few Obstacles

Some stream crossings and old logging roads. Mixed pine and hardwood forests at Tsali are easily recognized on this trail. Some old homesites. Neat part of forest with tall hemlocks and rhododendron, not typical of the heavily logged areas at Tsali. More great lakeshore singletrack riding with long, gradual hills. Some really great fast gravel road sections.

Related Pages

Nantahala National Forest