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 blue 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 blue 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.
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Reviews For The Dragon's Tooth Hike (5 Most Recent)
This was my first hike in the Blue Ridge since I was a child. The weather was perfect 61 degrees and clear with a slight breeze from the south. We should have worn shorts or at least our zip offs. There were about twenty cars at the trail head parking lot when we started at 1300 hours. Even with this much traffic the trail was not crowded we spent a lot of time alone to enjoy the quiet as we summited.
We are both flat landers and while in good shape the altitude caused us both to pant. Periodic breaks for water and to talk to those on the trail made the walk enjoyable. We were both surprised by the number of dogs on the trail with their owners. Not in a bad way as we are both love them it was just unexpected.
The rock scrambles were awesome I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this. We spent about an hour at the Tooth and could not get a turn to ascend it so we packed up and made our descent. Arriving at the parking lot we found it packed weaving our way out we both commented on how much fun it was and set our sights on MacFee Knob for the next day.
This was a great reintroduction and primer for our future forays to the AT and its side trails. Thanks to all those that help maintain this incredible resource.
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 20, 2012
I just did this hike (along with my church pastor) this past weekend and I would have to say I truly enjoyed it. It is all uphill getting to the "tooth" but I didn't find it too steep of a climb. The rock scramble is a lot of fun but you need to be careful of copperheads. We spotted one hiding underneath one of the rocks right off of the trail. There are some nice views along the trail but nothing compares to the view from the top! We went as all of the leaves were changing and it was amazing! I have been on many hikes and it was one of the best views I have ever seen. It took us an hour and a half to reach the top. We spent 45-60 minutes taking in the views and eating lunch. My only complaint about this trail is the solitude. I would have to rate it a 1. We must have seen at least a 100 people along the way and there was probably 40-50 people at the top by the time we got there. Probably because the weather was perfect for hiking that day. You are constantly having to stop and let people by or vise versa. The hike down takes nearly as long since the rock scrambling is more difficult going down than it is up in my opinion. All total we did the entire trip in a little less than 4 hours and that is including our time at the top. Probably could have done it a lot quicker if there was not as many people out. So if you are looking for a good work out hike with amazing views then this is a great hike but if you want some solitude look elsewhere.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 22, 2012
My family and I have hiked this trail countless times and we always thoroughly enjoy it.† We love the bouldering aspect and the trail itself is very interesting.† The top doesn't have the best views unless you climb to the top of the Tooth, but it's worth going anyway.† We will be hiking this trail again soon!!
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 15, 2012
My wife and I hiked the trail today. It was a great hike. Really easy until the last mile or so, that is when the fun comes into play. The climbing was great but you definitely want to watch your step at points. Today there was a lot of people on the trail but we still had a lot of quiet time to ourselves as we did this hike. As a note of caution there is a bees nest at a bend in trail about a mile or so in from the parking lot. Some people were getting stung so be careful.
Date of Hike: Sunday, June 17, 2012
We hiked this trail, along with McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs, over the weekend. Altogether, it was an AWESOME weekend of hiking and a highly recommended combination for a serious hiker!
Dragon's Tooth took us 3 hours, all very enjoyable. I loved the rock-scrambling part and being able to climb the tooth itself. I found the views only "good" (not amazing), but I think that was more because we had just finished two other hikes with spectacular vistas. We returned via the A.T. as described in the text above, and I'd like to note this is significantly more difficult than simply returning the way you came. The A.T. in that section starts with an uphill climb, but really it is the narrow rocky trail (overgrown in some parts) that causes you to watch your footing and work a little harder than returning via the wide trail the way you came. It wasn't a problem for us, and we found it a very enjoyable alternative, but if you are tired, it will be easier returning the way you came.
We loved the hike, but don't think it's appropriate for young children or dogs that aren't experienced hikers. The rock scrambling is narrow with big steps up (or down) at times, not really meant for short legs.
On a sidenote, the boy scout trail referenced toward the end of the hike is now blazed yellow instead of blue. It is well-marked and you won't miss the turn-off despite the new color.