Tsali Mouse Branch and Thompson Loops
ElevationAscent: 1,566' 477 m
Descent: -1,553' -473 m
High: 2,092' 638 m
Low: 1,702' 519 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 13% (8°)
Popular rides nearby
Tsali Left and Right Loops - IMBA Epic
24.8 mi 39.9 km • Loop • 1,707 ft Ascent 520.28 m Ascent
Tsali Left Loop - Entire Ride
11.0 mi 17.7 km • Loop • 968 ft Ascent 295.1 m Ascent
Deep Creek Area Ride
9.9 mi 16.0 km • Loop • 723 ft Ascent 220.52 m Ascent
Kessel's Lazy Wave
3.2 mi 5.1 km • Point to Point • 74 ft Ascent 22.56 m Ascent
Uktena's Dreamy Wave
3.5 mi 5.6 km • Point to Point • 59 ft Ascent 18.03 m Ascent
Fire On The Mountain
5.2 mi 8.3 km • Loop • 737 ft Ascent 224.74 m Ascent
“Two great classic loops at Tsali.”— Paul Stahlschmidt
Electric Mountain Bikes Unknown
Need to Know
Left Loop and Right Loop: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Mouse Branch Loop and Thompson Loop: Tueday, Thursday, Saturday
Camping is available within Tsali Recreation Area where you can ride in/ride out to the trails. Sites contain water and electricity, and showers also available. Tumbling Waters Campground and Freemans Motel and Cottages are also popular accomodations.
These loops are signed well with an encouraged direction, which this review follows.
Tsali has a small user fee, which you must pay in cash at the main parking lot before riding.
When arriving with the the overlook section, stay right on Mouse then head left on the overlook trail which follows back around counter clockwise to the same spot. The overlook is a spectacular view of the lake and surrounding mountains, and very close to the highest point of the Mouse Loop. After snapping some photos, get ready to descend the fastest part of trail back down. Take a left again on and overlap the same small section of trail you used to pass through the first time. This time at the top of the climb, stay right on the Mouse again.
Following the lakes contours for another 3.5 miles will take you back to the intersection with the entrance road and the Thompson Loop at Murphy Gap.
Stay straight on Thompson and follow this loop in a counter-clockwise direction. Thompson has some ups and downs early in the ride, but generally has little elevation gain until you are a little over 2 miles in when youll begin a climb that gains about 350 ft. in 3 miles. After that, youll have about a mile of descending to complete this sweet ride.
History & Background
The trails are maintained by Nantahala Area SORBA, an organization that contributes hundreds of volunteer hours per year to maintain the system, and also sponsors some cool rides and outings (nasorba.com/).