“A challenging ride with excellent views of Fontana Lake.
— Zack Butler
Open to mountain bikes on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and horses on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
The Tsali Left Loop is typically done clockwise from the parking area, and it flows best this way. You'll begin by descending towards Fontana Lake, passing by an old homesite (where only a stone chimney remains) as you head out towards the lake. After arriving to the lakeside, the trail meanders along the lake, where you'll encounter some narrow sections where erosion has been an issue. Care should be exercised here. The trail meanders along the lake, occasionally venturing up the hillside along creeks, and also has a few climbs to spice things up a bit.
You'll pass through a number of thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron as well as up through a few hollows where the trail narrows. Watch out for the occasional confused cyclist who may be blasting down the trail in the wrong direction. There's nothing inherently technical on this trail, but it involves a few climbs and descents. As the Tsali Left Loop approaches the County Line Connector, there will be a nice long climb with a spectacular overlook of Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as your reward at the top. This is especially rewarding in mid-May when the mountain laurel is in full bloom. Just be careful not to fall the 200 feet down the bluff into the lake!
The trail then descends down to the County Line Connector and the Tsali Right Loop
, where you can either head back towards the parking area (2.5 miles) or extend your ride by continuing on the Tsali Right Loop