Published Somedays

2007 Tsali Trip - Trail Photos, Video

(updated: Jul 11, 2007)

We are back from our annual pilgrimage to Tsali, home of some of the best XC mountain bike trails in the country and a great place to take the family camping. The camp site is right where the trails are, so if you camp it doesn't get much more convenient than that.

It was considerably warmer than previous years, and there were more bugs, especially ticks. I got bit several times by something that left good size bites plus a rash that kept me itching for days.

The other thing is that the water level of Fontana Lake was much lower than previous years, as you'll see in the photos below. I saw several house boats just sitting on dry land, sloping down into the water; pretty much uninhabitable at that point, unless you can live like the Joker in the old Batman TV series (that camera angle really used to annoy me). But the swimming was still good.

The Tsali trails are a lot of fun because they flow really well. It's up and down and you can go really fast. The climbs are not too steep or long like in Pisgah.

The trails are shared with equestrians so they alternate horse/bike on different days. So for example, the Left and Right Loops are bike on Friday while the Thompson and Mouse Branch Loops are horse only, and then it switches on Saturday, and so on.

One drawback to this arrangement is that you get fresh horse poop on the trails. On Saturday Sir Toots, Sir Finds-a-watch, and I did a night ride and at one point Sir Toots ran over some of it and flung it into me as I followed behind. Only Sir Toots could do that.

I didn't take as many photos this year but I did manage to get some filming in. So I've included some camera stills as well. Send me an email if you want to pre-order a DVD. I plan on making one of Tsali because the scenery is so good.

Quote of the trip: "You'd never think being in pain would be so much fun." - Sir Disappears-a-lot.

And with that, onto the Tsali video and photos. Be sure to watch the very end of the video. And check out how overgrown parts of the trail are - Mouse Branch in particular. Nothing like getting strafed by prickly blackberry bushes (although the berries tasted so good).

Hope you enjoy,


(You'll need the latest Quicktime player, version 7. Get it here )

Tsali Video (6m 53s):

Music: Turn It Again, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium: Mars

To download instead, right click here. Then you can use the player of your choice (even iTunes) as long as it supports H.264.


The Great Smokey Mountains (views from Mouse Branch Loop):

You can see how much the water level is below the tree line:

Sir Toots was smoking on his Salsa 29er. This is the perfect bike for these trails:

A rare Sir Bikes-a-lot sighting on Mouse Branch Loop:

Rider: Sir Launch.

Sir Launch on Thompson Loop on the fast descent near the end:

Sir Toots, Sir Bikes on Mouse Branch Loop. I look like a kid. I highly recommend mountain biking for staying young and healthy.

Turner loves his glider. I put lawnmower wheels on because he's still too small for the 12" wheels. He's almost gliding now and he's less than two years old. This thing works so well; I highly recommend it (

The campsite and our huge three room tent (bigger than some apartments in NYC and homes in CA):

I took the kids on the singletrack. It was a little narrow in spots but I managed:

Will on the Right Loop. He rode about four miles and went right up the hills. Next year I'll get him a mountain bike and we'll do the entire loop:

We'll be back next year...

Filed Under: Ride Reports > North Carolina > Bryson City

Google Earth (.kml) files and GPS eXchange (.gpx) files.
All Tsali loops: Left, Right, Mouse, Thompson. Part of Mouse Branch missing due to lost signal.


1. Sir Lamm-Hammer said...

man it looks like you guys had a blast. i promiss i will make one of these trips one day. i would love to actually do some "mountian" biking. the video looked great. it nice to see all the dudes and dudettes bro-ing down and tearing up some trails. there is one thing that really meakes me happy about the video, finally someone eles hit the ground on film. i am tired of being the scape goat. my last misshap has put me out for 3 weeks. i am just now getting to where i can ride agian. only about 8 lbs heavier.

good times guys

Jul 11, 2007 @ 12:03 AM

2. Sir Disappears-a-lot said...

this was an amazing trip, the riding was phenomenal, and the exhaustion and pain in my legs well worth it. I can't wait to go back next year...

Jul 11, 2007 @ 6:53 AM

3. Trailmix said...

That was an awesome video!! It made me dizzy and made my eyes water with joy! I'm down with this trip next year...I was a little late with my involvement this year. Sweet!!

Jul 11, 2007 @ 12:59 PM

4. pinch said...

Amazing trip. I wish we had downhills like in tsali. Thanks for letting me tag along.

Jul 11, 2007 @ 4:38 PM

5. Jonathon said...


I got that same tent yo. Mine is nick named the Taj Mahal of Pisgah.


Jul 12, 2007 @ 11:18 AM

6. brado1 said...

Nice Video E! better than that Porc Rim vid, i'm still recovering from the epileptic seizures your rapidly flashing images sent me into....Damn man!

Glad the Final Cut pro is working out for ya!

sorry missed the trip! be up there next weekend... gimme a shout next time you're out dis way!

Jul 13, 2007 @ 10:57 AM

7. Sean said...

Really nice photo at the end. Frame worthy for sure.

Jul 13, 2007 @ 12:07 PM

8. Sir Bikes said...

That was just in a couple of spots. I guess you don't watch tv (me either) for the very same reason - rapidly flashing images. They will not allow a shot to last more than a second or two. I can't deal.

Jul 13, 2007 @ 12:17 PM


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