Wonder what it would be like to ride some of the fabled epic trails of the south east?! These are 2 of some of the most epic riding in North Carolina, yet each is so different in style and scope that they would probably appeal to different types of riders.
TSALI is a smaller network of trail system that is awesomely fast, flow. There is very little that slows you down too much. The trails are quite well taken care of and groomed. There are races there often. And although you may find several spots of mud puddles of various depths – which you figure out how deep they are after going through them – the drainage of the trails in general is quite good, especially the right and left loop.
There are several overlooks that contain stunning views of the lake and the Great Smokey mountains.
The trails are Fast! For the most part you can run a 32/20 and probably walk only a couple of short stiff climbs. On a geared 2Niner I use the middle ring for all except the same climbs. Some sections of these trails are just too Fun, ripping it downhill and around corners of the lake is a blast!
For Tsali I usually take 2 bottles, a gel flask, clif bar (that I usually don’t eat) and a patch kit.
Camping is onsite and you can ride all the trails straight out of the campsite – BUT you may need the campsite or hotel if you want to ride all the trails. Tsali trails are basically a 4 leaf clover, with half the trails open to Mt bikers and the other half for horseback use, and the days alternate. This past weekend we got to ride Thompson and Mouse loops on Saturday, then ride Left and Right loops on Sunday.
PISGAH is a much larger network of trails. You can come across any number of things while in Pisgah. Downed trees are not uncommon. Drop offs are not that uncommon either. Pisgah is where I saw the longest rock garden that I had ever seen – well over 100 yards, all at a downhill angle that would give you a forearm pump that would make a rock climber be jealous.
Caution is to be used in Pisgah!!! Navigating and maps are a must unless you are very familiar with the area. We had mapped out a route that we figured would be a good 5-6 hour ride, we did about half of it due to not being sure where we were at and hiking rather than being able to cycle up some climbs.
There are several places to camp in Pisgah, from the Davidson full RV campground, the group sites w/ only rest rooms & tent sites (my choice), to just a tent site.
For Pisgah I usually take 2 big bottles, camel back, 2 gel flasks, 3 clif bars, patch kit, 2-3 tubes, and I would take a filter if I had one or iodine tablets. Don’t expect to get much cell service. I have verizon and usually get service most places – not Pisgah.
As crazy as Pisgah can be I have some incredibly epic rides there. Some downhills and stream crossings the likes of that I have never seen before in the south east. Some of the uphills will make hike-a-bike challenging. Some stream crossings you will have to get off and walk across. You may think you are some place on the map that does not exist – probably because I don’t think all the trails are actually on the maps. There must be sections of trails up there that only the locals know about – there is just so much forest there that they have Mt bike stage races.
If you want a simple and well groomed trail that is just a blast to ride, it is Tsali hands down! The trails are well marked, only a handful of intersections. Only a few times that you may have to walk or step over downed trees. There are some great sections of trails to catch speed and some jumps, whoops to increase the fun.
If you are looking for a more complex trail system that challenges you to navigate, riding technically, longer hours of ride time, and throw anything at you, including an epic adventure, then Pisgah is for you!