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.
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Reviews For The Dragon's Tooth Hike (5 Most Recent)
I thoroughly enjoyed this rather short hike. The first 1.7 miles was not too tiring, especially since we stopped 2-3 times for water. The last .7 miles involved scrambling over rocks. I didn't mind this part I actually thought it was pretty fun since I am a rock climber. I did, however, see a number of people who were dressed inadequately for the hike (in jeans/street clothes) or who had small children strapped to their back (!!). I don't imagine that they made it to the summit. While this hike is not very long, it is pretty intense, especially if you don't do hiking on a regular basis. Anywho, it was very rewarding upon reaching the summit. The view was fantastic, and there was a nice flat, sandy place to rest. It would also make for a nice camp spot if you dare to crawl over rocks with your 20 pound+ pack. I also think the "tooth" and other rocks at the summit would make for some fun bouldering, that is, if one is brave enough to lug a crash pad up the mountain. I highly recommend this hike to those experienced hikers out there. This is not really a kid/novice friendly route. Please read a about a hike before you attempt it so you know what to expect.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2014
I was Section hiking last month, and ran into the "Tooth" on my third day heading to Pickle Branch Shelter. I left Campbell's Shelter (1/3rd marker for through hikers) early that morning and scaled McAfee Knob to great views!! Well exhausted by the 12 mile mark, I hit the Dragon's Tooth. It was truly a Beast climbing up from the north after a long day. Endless false summits and vertical climbs with 35# on my back were insane! The views did not disappoint, and I must have looked a mess among the Memorial Weekend crowds, many of which could not make it to the top. Great memorizes!! I was Out at Rt 621 the next day and home to Maryland for Steamed Crabs. If there is no pain, there is no reward!
Date of Hike: Friday, May 16, 2014
Loved this hike! The day before we had about 3 inches of rain so I decided to hike this the opposite way listed here. Went up the AT , very rocky and scenic, wild rhododendron blooming everywhere along the trail! The last .7 of a mile is steep and rocly , but loads of fun too! I'm almost 52 and i had a blast climbing the rocks! I even climbed to the top of the tooth when I got to the top. Took me and hour and 20 minutes going up and that included stopping many times to take pictures and I came back down the Dragon's Tooth Trial in 51 minutes. Planning to take my 23 year old son there soon! Can't wait to go back!
Date of Hike: Saturday, April 26, 2014
We walked up the Dragons Tooth Trail and down the Appalachian Trail from Lost Spectacles Gap. Had we known, we would have done it in reverse. Coming down the AT from LS Gap added more rock scrambling than I was really interested in after having climbed up and down to the Tooth. The Dragons Tooth Trail is a nice walk and would have been much appreciated as a good wind down. But overall, it was a good challenge with a nice payoff at the top. But yes, as has been noted by others, McAfee Knob has much more incredible scenery, but is also lots more crowded.
Date of Hike: Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The "Dragons Tooth" at the top is very neat. Besides that, the hike is fairly short and moderately difficult. The last mile or so, the rock scramble is like doing a mini version of Old Rag. We didn't realize this going into the hike, so we brought our dog (Jack Russell/Hound mix) and he scaled the rock fine! The only thing I wish was better about this hike, is a better place to sit near the tooth at the top. Overall, the hike was fun and great hike on New Years Eve. (P.S- Macafee's Knob and Tinker Cliffs are on Route 311 near Dragon's Tooth and are better hikes)