Swain County is Great for Road Cycling and Off-road Mountain Biking at the Tsali Recreation Area

In the Western North Carolina mountains, the word "flat" is seldom used to describe our landscape. So, needless to say, biking these hills can be a challenge for road bikers and off-road bikers alike.

No bike? No problem. All of Bryson City's bike shops have rentals.

 

Mountain Biking

Each year, Swain County attracts thousands of mountain bikers to the world-famous Tsali Recreation Area Trail System, 15 miles west of Bryson City. Pronounced "SAH-lee" and named after the 19th century Cherokee Indian martyr, the 42-mile network of multi-use trails is consistently rated one of the top ten riding destinations in the United States. The four-loop system offers a variety of landscapes and trail types from single track to old logging roads. Hikers may use the trails any day of the week, but mountain bikers and horseback riders are kept separated by alternating use of the trails. A schedule is posted at all trailheads. Tsali trails map (pdf).

In recent years, the sport has grown to such an extent that now there is a series of annual races held in the area.

Deep Creek – In the National Park, just outside Bryson City, bicycles are allowed on Deep Creek and Indian Creek trails only. Please note: there are no loops to ride; these trails are out and back only. Deep Creek trail map (pdf)

Deep Creek Trail may be ridden from the parking lot to the fourth bridge (at the Loop Trail); this is about 1.7 miles each way (1 mile beyond the junction with Indian Creek Trail).

Indian Creek Trail may be ridden from Deep Creek Trail to the intersection with the Deeplow Gap Trail; this is about 2.9 miles each way.

Oconaluftee River Trail, Cherokee. This flat, wide 1.5 mile (3-mile out and back) trail meanders along the river. It has a gentle terrain excellent for beginners and children. Advanced riders will enjoy it as well. Park at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor Center on in Cherokee at the Transit lot on the left just as you leave the Reservation.

Road Biking

There are many miles of uncrowded country roads for biking in Bryson City and throughout Swain County, many designated as bike routes.

Lakeview Drive (a.k.a. "Road to Nowhere") is a lightly traveled road that winds six miles into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, north of Bryson City. It is a moderate ride with views of Fontana Lake.

Just west of Bryson City, bike trails include two moderate loops offer a variety of landscapes on lightly traveled roads. The 13-mile Lower Alarka Loop offers views of Lake Fontana and the Tuckasegee River, while the 15-mile Upper Alarka Loop offers a mixture of scenic flat farmland and steep mountain grades.

Bike Shops & Outfitters

Bryson City Bicycles

Contact: Andy Zivinsky

Address:

157 Everett St

Bryson City, NC 28713

View Additional Addresses

Phone 828-488-1988

Bryson City Bicycles Bryson City Bicycles is 'Tsali's bike shop'. Offering rentals, same day repairs and gear, we're open year round for all your biking needs. We have a great selection of bikes, parts and accessories, gift items, books, maps, trail information, clothing, kids' products and more. BCB was named one of America's Best Bike Shops of 2014 and is conveniently located in downtown Bryson City.

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Address:

13077 Hwy 19 W

Bryson City, NC 28713

Local 828-488-6900

TF 800-232-7238

Fax 828-488-0301

Nantahala Outdoor Center Rated "One of the Best Outfitter's on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure, NOC has been the leader in the rafting industry since 1972. NOC offers family friendly adventures rafting and paddling the Nantahala River, as well as riverside dining, lodging, shopping, mountain bike rentals, lake kayaking, wilderness medicine training and our world famous Paddling School. There's something for everyone so come see for yourself why NOC is a legend in the outdoors!

Tsali Cycles

Contact: Chris Royce

Address:

35 Slope Street

Bryson City, NC 28713

View Additional Addresses

Local 828-488-9010

Phone 828-284-0516

Tsali Cycles bike shop offers local beer on tap and wine tasting. A full service, friendly repair shop with fair prices and an experienced staff. Trek bikes to rent and sell along with road bikes and used bikes for those just getting started.
Complimentary bike checks, maps, and advice that will provide you with all you need for a great biking experience!
Come have a cold one with us!

Riding in Deep Creek

Guidebooks for Biking

For more information, we recommend Swain County resident Jim Parham's two excellent books about biking in the Smokies. These books are generally available at area bookstores and outfitters or may be purchased from the author.

Off the Beaten Track: Guide to Mountain Biking in Western North Carolina / The Smokies
and
Road Bike in the Smokies

Milestone Press
P.O. Box 158
Almond, North Carolina 28702
828-488-6601

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