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.
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. 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 follow the trail schedule:
Right Loop and Left Loop:
Horses – Tuesday , Thursday, & Saturday Mountain Bikes –Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday Mouse Branch and Thompson Loop:
Horses – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, & Sunday
Mountain Bikes – Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday
Right Loop and Left Loop:
Horses – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, & Sunday Mountain Bikes – Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday Mouse Branch and Thompson Loop:
Horses – Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday Mountain Bikes – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, & Sunday 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.
Check out the brochure.
Great location right on Trail system. Hot showers, clean toilets.
Has one of the best views of the lake and GSMNP that I know of…
This is the campground to stay if you want to mountain bike. The Tsali system starts right from the campground. You can ride to & from your campsite and never have to load up. The campsites are a good size as we were able to get several tents in one site. They are also not very expensive. The bathrooms & showers are a little lacking, but who cares.
Awesome Native culture at every turn!
We went to Tsali with our Boy Scout Troop in May and had a great time. There are plenty of trails, which are well managed to avoid conflicts with other users (read the signs!).
The campground is first come, first served, which is a bit of a challenge when you show up as a group. Plan accordingly.
BTW, the legend of Tsali (the man) makes for a great campfire story!
I've been going here for the last 25 years and enjoying the intermediate Mountain trails. As a flatlander I love to come to tsali to get my legs into shape for the mountains. After a week here you'll be ready for even more challenging Trails. The campground is large, the facilities are clean, and the people are wonderful. Enjoy your stay. :-)