The first time I started on the Tsali Loops was the “perfect storm” for a mountain biker’s nightmare, within 15 min. I got stung just above the knee by a hornet that got caught under my shorts, stung like hell, but I pushed on. I just passed the 6 mile marker, when on a slight downhill I got a bit carried away, and on a minor jump, I blew both my inner-tubes and had to walk 5 miles back to the trail head, I always carry 2 spare tubes on a trail, but 2 weeks ago i gave one away to a fellow biker on one of the Pisgah trails, and never replaced it. I had a look to see if I could patch the other tube, but the snake bite was way to big, so I walked back and headed to the bike shop for my tubes and a new rear tire.
Today, with 2 new tubes and a spanking new rear tire, I returned to ride the Tsali Left and Right Loop.
I started with the left loop at 9.30am, I was the only car in the parking, which to me meant, I was the first biker on the trail, I could open up, at least for the first section of the loop. The left loop is a very easy and non technical, and can be taken pretty fast, however, this does not give you “Carte Blanche” to become gung-ho, there are sections on this trail that allow no errors, any errors on this loop can mean a visit to the “Prince of the deep water” or a long drop into the lake, as others would say.
The left loop has quite a few fun and fast sections with low grade switchbacks, a few minor climbs, and a pretty scenic section that follows a very narrow track along the very blue / green lake.
All in all a very nice loop.
The fact that I combined Left Loop with Right Loop, means that I did the right loop against the grain, meaning I had a lot of head on’s with other bikers, most of which seemed to be extremely stuck up, and did / do not have a clue about the Mountain Biking code of ethics!!
The right loop, just as her smaller sister is a very easy loop, but probably not quite as scenic, but saying that, it is probably faster with a few technical spots, that if possible should be taken faster rather than slower.
If I had to make a choice between the Left or Right Loop, I would probably lean towards the Right Loop, but I would suggest that if possible, combine the two loops in one ride.
The Tsali Loops are sweet loops, but they are definitely not in the same league as the Trails in the Brevard Pisgah region, or the Dupont State forest Trails.
I take my hat off to the people that maintain the trail, the $2 per rider is well worth it, because it is clear that the money is going back into the trails and the trails are very well maintained without giving them a sterile feel.
If i could change one thing on these loops, I would make them a “One Way” system, I have rode trails in for example Colorado and Oregon that have “One Way” trails, this way a rider never has to worry about a kamikaze rider hitting them head on whilst climbing, or on a blind spot. I think Tsali is far too busy to allow a “Both Way” system
Ride : Tsali Left and Right Loop.
Total time : Just over 3 hours
Traffic on Trail : +20 Mountain Bikers ( all on right loop)
Wild Life : a few rabbits
Scenery : Left loop has some scenic sections along the lake
Other : This is a VERY busy loop, so extra caution is needed
My Trail Rating : 6 / 10