Tsali Recreation Area

  

Enjoy mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, motorized boating, kayaking or camping at Tsali Recreation Area, all located within steps of Fontana Lake.

Follow the Trail.  The Tsali (pronounced “SAH-lee”) Recreation Area’s four-loop trail system has become a popular destination for mountain bikers and horseback riders. It is best known as a challenging mountain bike course. Hikers may travel the trails on any day, but mountain bikers and equestrians–the primary users–are kept separated by alternating days on the trails. Be sure to check the trail schedule posted at the trailhead. See page 2 for Trail Tips and a map.

  • The Right Loop, rated moderately difficult, offers 13.9 miles of single track, with shorter 4- and 8-mile loops possible.
  • The Left Loop, rated moderately difficult, is 11.9 miles of single track with views toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Fontana Lake.
  • The Mouse Branch Trail, rated moderately difficult, is 8.7 miles of single track and includes old logging roads.
  • The Thompson Loop, rated moderately difficult, is 7.3 miles of single track.

There is a per-person day use fee for trail use. Fees can be paid at either the Tsali Bike or Horse Trailheads.

Sleep under the Stars. Open early April through October,Tsali Campground offers 42 campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. Many sites accommodate small RVs, but no hookups are available. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring and lantern post. Accessible flush toilets, hot showers and drinking water are available. Campers pay fees at the campground fee station.

Get in the Water. Fontana Lake offers flatwater paddling and motor boating. One boat launch is located at Tsali, while another is located nearby on FR 2553 at Lemmons Branch. Ample parking is available at either launch. Fishing is permitted year-round, and anglers will find some of the best fishing for walleye in the state. Anglers can also catch black bass, crappie, catfish and white bass.

Trail Tips:

  • Please stay on designated trails; stay out of areas closed by signs.
  • Keep pets on a leash that is no longer than 6 feet and keep them quiet.
  • Wear hunter orange during hunting seasons.
  • Carry a first aid kit.
  • Bring a compass and map.
  • Wear safety gear, such as a riding helmet. Bikers should wear eye protection and gloves.
  • Communicate when passing other trail users.
  • Hikers and mountain bikers should yield to horses.
  • “Tread lightly” to avoid erosion and stay on the trails.
  • During wet weather, choose a forest road instead of the Tsali trails.
  • Avoid tying horses to trees, even temporarily. Use a highline with tree-saver straps to tether your horse to a tree.
  • Break up and scatter manure; fill in pawed holes.
  • To protect water quality, keep horses at least 100 feet from water.

At a Glance

Reservations: First Come First Served
Area Amenities: Accessible,Boat ramp,Tent camping,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees Camping fee - $15.00 fee per night per site.
Open Season: April 1 - October 31
Usage: Light
Closest Towns: Robbinsville; Bryson City
Water: Drinking Water
Restroom: Flush

General Information

Directions:

From Asheville, NC: Take I-40 west to exit 27 onto U.S. 19/74. Stay on U.S. 74 west to NC 28 west. Turn right and go 5 miles, look for sign on right.

From Knoxville, TN: Take U.S. 129 south through Maryville. Stay on U.S. 129 to Deals Gap. Take left onto NC 28 east. Sign is 25 miles on left.

From Bryson City: Take U.S. 19 south for 9 miles to NC 28 west. Turn right on NC 28. Go 5 miles and look for sign on right.


Activities


Bicycling

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Camping & Cabins

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Fishing

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Hiking

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Horse Riding & Camping

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Hunting

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Water Activities

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Amenities

Boat ramp
Toilets Showers and Flush toilets available at the Tsali Campground from April 15- October 31
Accessible Accessible restrooms and campsites in the Tsali Campground are located in the lower loop.
Picnic tables
Parking Trailhead parking lot is for day trail use. Upper parking lot reserved for horse trailers.
Tent camping
Drinking water