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Dragon's Tooth - Catawba, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.7 mls
Hiking Time:
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3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,505 ft
Jefferson National Forest
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
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.

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Hiker Reviews For The Dragon's Tooth Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Proud Father Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 25, 2015
Absolutely loved this hike! I did it as part of the triple crown. We did this along with McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliff. We went up via the AT trail which was a fun trail with a lot of rocks to explore with some nice views. The last .7 miles is where you earn your views at the top. Climbing the actual Dragons Tooth was memorable as well once we got up there. The earlier you go in the day the better as far as crowds go. Don't let the talk of some scary rock climbs stray you from this climb. I'm not a big fan of heights at times and I didn't have a problem with it. It's not the Knifes Edge of Mt. Katahdin....

By: Stephen Price Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 12, 2015
This hike was excellent! The first 1.7 miles is a nice warm-up for the more challenging remaining .7 miles. My wife and I completely enjoyed the rocky trek to the top where the tooth is. It was a fun challenge that we both had been looking for since becoming a hiking couple earlier this year. Upon reaching the tooth, the views were amazing and actually climbing up the tooth itself was engaging. Highly recommend this hike to anyone who is hiking for somewhat of a physical challenge and beautiful scenery.

By: Jennifer and family Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 10, 2015
Hiked this one for Mother's Day with family and dog. Our youngest is 9 and loved every minute of it. Got extremely rocky at the top - as it says in the description - and was difficult only because we had to keep the dog on leash. If it was a ski slope we would rate it a black diamond but we are very glad we did it. Took our crew almost 2 hours up and about 1 hour down. Beautiful at the top!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 04, 2014
This was my fiance and my first hike, and we loved it! He got a little winded before we got to the big rocks, but we both thoroughly enjoyed climbing all over the rocks. We will definitely be going back!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 26, 2014
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.

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Mid September
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