Tsali Recreation Area’s 42-mile trail system in Nantahala National Forest is one of the most popular mountain biking destinations in the country, and according to a lot of mountain bikers, recent trail work did more damage than good.
The largest concern with the work involves the creation of a high number of rolling dips for drainage implemented throughout the entire trail system. Rolling dips are the preferred form of water control in modern trail building, but according to Woody Keen, the president of the Professional Trail Builders Association, the new dips don’t meet standards. “They’re too abrupt and most of them don’t drain water,” Keen says. “The work didn’t enhance the mountain bike experience. It made it worse.”
The botched trail work has prodded local bikes to create a new SORBA chapter dedicated to maintaining it. It will also reach out to other land managers in the area, like Western North Carolina University and the Fontana Village, to help develop and maintain trail systems outside of Tsali.
“Tsali is like the Grand Old Dame of mountain biking,” says Bryson City Bicycles owner Andy Zivinsky. “We’re gonna bring Tsali back to what it used to be.”
The next Tsali trail work weekend is scheduled for April 15-17.