Tsali Recreation Area-Mouse Branch Loop Trail

Categories: Play, Horseback Riding, Hiking & Backpacking, Mountain Biking, Tsali Recreation Area Biking Trails, Back Country Horse Trails, Tsali Recreation Area


  • Tsali Recreation Area- Mouse Branch Loop Trail offers moderate trail difficulty
  • You'll ride along a couple of ridge lines via single track trails
  • Mouse Branch Loop Trail is the shortest of the 4 main trail systems at Tsali Recreation Area (Thompson Loop Trail, Tsali Trail Right & Left Loops & Mouse Branch Loop Trail)
  • Views of Fontana Lake & Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be seen along the trail & from the Mouse Branch Trail Overlook area (see photo gallery)
  • Nearby Tsali Campground, Lemmons Branch Boat Access, Tsali Road Boat Access, Area Information, Restrooms & Showers 
  • Pit Toilets, Water, Information, Pay Area located at the Bike parking area/Trail head for Tsali Trail Right & Left Loops

Tsali Recreation Area- Mouse Branch Trail Overlook

Tsali Recreation Area- Mouse Branch Loop Trail (Single Track)

The Local Scoop

The Mouse Branch Loop Trail takes you up a ridge line high above Fontana Lake.  You'll work your way around one of the many 'fingers' of land that make Fontana Lake so unique.  Along the way, take the spur trail, 'Mouse Branch Overlook Trail,' to views of the NC side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park over on the North shore and the lake just below you. We highly recommend this area to any outdoor enthusiasts looking to get away from it all and do a little outdoor play. 
Mouse Branch Loop Trail- Mountain Biking
Tsali Recreation Area's 'Mouse Branch Loop Trail' offers experienced riders a moderate single track experience in some of the most beautiful surroundings the NC Smokies have to bestow.  
Mouse Branch Loop Trail is the shortest of the four main trail systems but still remains moderate in difficulty with some nice down hill runs and a few lung busting climbs.
As always, we recommend the proper safety equipment be worn before heading out and for this particular trail we suggest you have a good amount of experience on a mountain bike. 
Mouse Branch Loop Trail- Horseback Riding
On horseback, this loop trail offers a short ride with a shady home stretch.  You'll want to make sure your horse is watered up before you head out, there are no creek crossing along this trail.  There is always Fontana Lake just below you, but we're not sure what the fluctuating water level will be like when you go.  
TIP: Make sure you follow the signs for 'Suggested Route of Travel' for Mouse Branch Loop Trail.  You'll see this sign approx. 0.7 mile from the trailhead.

The Local Directions

From Bryson City, NC
Take U.S. Highway 74 West*/U.S. Hwy 19 West*/N.C. Hwy 28 North* (Great Smoky Mountain Expressway) for 8.3 miles to a right towards Robbinsville on N.C. Hwy 28 North.  Continue on (crossing a bridge over Fontana Lake & into 'Graham Co.') for another 3.6 miles to another right onto 'Tsali Road.'  Travel down this curvy little road for another 2.5 miles until you reach Tsali Recreation Area. Horseback parking is to your left (think 10:00 o'clock) and Mountain Bike parking is to your slight left (think 11:00 o'clock).

Back to top

Difficulty Levels

  • Bike8What's this?
  • Horse5What's this?
  • Hike8What's this?
Easy via N.C. Hwy 28
Trail Distance
9 mile loop
Nearest City
Bryson City
Graham County
Distance From
Bryson City, NC: 13.4 miles