McAfee Knob - JNF Roanoke
One of the most photographed locations
Great Virginia Hiking Books!

Dragon's Tooth - Catawba, Virginia

Printable Topo Trail Map
   All Hikes Map
   Click for location shots
   Click for location shots
   Click for Parking/Start location
   Hike trail blazed colors
   Other trail

  • Flash_FP1
  • Flash_FP2
  • Flash_FP3
  • Flash_FP4
  • Flash_FP5

Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.7 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,505 ft
Jefferson National Forest
Printable Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Catawba Weather Forecast
Graphic Precip/Temp Forecast
Current Weather Radar Loop (Java)
Garmin (GDB), GPS eXchange (GPX) (What's this?)
3D View of Route!

Park off VA311 at the Dragon's Tooth parking area. 37.37898, -80.15561

The Dragon’s Tooth is an aptly named rock monolith of Tuscarora quartzite straddling Craig and Roanoke Counties just west of Catawba, VA. It stands out on it’s own at the top of Cove Mountain. It's as popular a hike as its’ nearby neighbor, McAfee Knob , with one difference, sweat! McAfee Knob is a walk in the park compared to this tough short hike.


Parking is directly off VA311. From the Dragon’s Tooth parking area head towards the information kiosk located at the rear of the parking area (Note: non-flush toilets are available). The blue blazed Dragon’s Tooth Trail begins at the kiosk. Go about 0.25 miles, crossing two small bridges before arriving at the intersection of the yellow blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail. There are a couple of camping spots at this intersection, and if the creek is running, they are the only camping spots on the whole trail with a water source. You will use the Boy Scout Connector Trail on the return trip. Bear to the right on the blue blazed Dragon’s Tooth Trail.

For the next 1.4 miles you will cross the creek/creek bed about 7-8 times on a steady but easy climb to the intersection of the white blazed Appalachian Trail (A.T.) There are some great camping spots (no water source) at this intersection. Turn right onto the A.T., heading south towards the Dragon’s Tooth.

Now the fun begins!! The next 0.7 miles is one of the toughest parts of the A.T. that we have hiked. The trail becomes very rocky, climbing multiple series of rock steps, the trail seemingly clinging to the edge of the mountain at times, near the top at two different places you will use a series of u-shaped iron bar steps embedded in the rock due to the steepness of the trail, and a few overlooks to give you a breather prior to reaching the intersection of the blue blazed Dragon’s Tooth Spur Trail, bear left. Imagine doing this part of the trail as an A.T. thru-hiker with 25-35+ lbs on your back!

It is less than 0.3 miles to Dragon’s Tooth on an easy path. Keep your eyes open on the left for a paths leading to overlooks prior to reaching Dragon’s Tooth. Be sure to circle behind the Tooth, as there is a crevice that makes it possible to climb onto the Tooth. It is not the easiest climb, and if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it, be safe! There are plenty of good views without climbing the Tooth.

For your return trip; take the blue blazed Dragon’s Tooth Spur Trail back to the intersection of the A.T. taking a right and heading north. Stay on the A.T. reaching the intersection of the Dragon’s Tooth Trail in 0.7 miles. Instead of returning on the blue blazed Dragon’s Tooth Trail stay straight on the more scenic A.T. going north. There will be an overlook in less than 0.25 miles with a campsite (no water) about 0.5 miles beyond that.  Take a left in 0.3 miles onto the yellow blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail, and in another 0.3 miles arrive at the blue blazed Dragon’s Tooth Trail passing the campsites mentioned near the beginning of the hike. Take a right on the Dragon’s Tooth Trail arriving at the Dragon’s Tooth Parking Lot in 0.25 miles.

Interactive Hike Map Below Printable Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in   Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left
Mouse-over the icons in the map below for location shots

Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Dragon's Tooth hike:

Hiker Reviews For The Dragon's Tooth Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Dragon's Tooth hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Barb O Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 28, 2016
Just finished a terrific Sunday morning and afternoon hike to the top! My friend and I are 65. While 'youngsters' were passing us at a steady clip, we did pretty fair ourselves at getting up and back in 5 hours with a long lunch on top and a split-off to the longer right trail ( as suggested) on the way down . (DON'T hike the split to the right on the way down. It's part of the AT. It's much longer, nothing to see at the top due to trees and some pretty miserable rocky spots as well, all anticlimactic during the return down. Just stick to the blue blazed trail). Saw one young guy with a 12 week old puppy... As others said, it's not possible for a dog to do it without being carried so be prepared for carrying your dog. Otherwise we agreed with most reviewers... Harder ( shorter) than McAffees Notch, you need hiking boots for the best climb, and yes there was a bevy of activity at the top. We had a great time!

By: Medic G Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 02, 2016
Good hike.† The "work" on this hike is the 0.7 miles on the AT.† As stated in the description, many rock scrambles which makes the 0.7 mile feel longer than what it actually is and takes additional time.† No one at the tooth when we arrived and we were able to explore it all to ourselves.† I did climb up the tooth some and almost all the way to the top.† On the return, we continued past the Dragon's Tooth trail and continue south on the AT and picked up the Boy Scout connector trail.† There were still a couple of small rock scrambles on the AT heading towards the Boy Scout connector trail.† Didn't see anyone on the return trip on the AT south of the Dragon's Tooth trail heading towards the Boy Scout trail.† The trails on this hike were well marked.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 16, 2016
Having trouble downloading the map-- is the file corrupted? Looking forward to hiking this one next weekend!

By: TJF Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 14, 2016
Beautiful hike and the rock scramble is a lot of fun! Climbed up on the Dragon's tooth and got rained on on the way down, but the tree coverage is nice. It takes a bit of work but is a lot of fun!

By: Shawn R. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 29, 2016
This is a fantastic hike, with several great views, with the culminating view at the top of the Dragon's Tooth. It is definitely not an easy climb (which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much), so if you feel that you are not in the best shape physically, I wouldn't recommend this hike. I went on a Friday with beautiful weather and wrongly assumed that not many people would be there since it wasn't a Saturday and it had been rainy the previous days. Unfortunately, when we got there the parking lot was nearly full. The only reason that I gave this hike four stars instead of five was the lack of solitude. Going back on the AT North we only ran into one other person, which was very nice! I highly recommend making this a loop due to the increase in solitude as well as a couple more great views on this stretch of trail. We finished the hike in 3 hours with a lengthy break at the top where we were able to climb up to the top of the Tooth.

Check out my video here:

    View all 50 reviews for the Dragon's Tooth hike
Mid September
about us | terms of use | © 2016