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Dragon's Tooth - Catawba, Virginia

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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
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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 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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Hiker Reviews For The Dragon's Tooth Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Michael Rating: 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)

By: Tony and Gretchan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 21, 2013
WHEW! We had signed up to do the Roanoke 7 Summits, and did this last after hiking the others with groups, and on our own. I was fearful to do it, from all that we heard, and all that talk proved true! I wasn't ready for the rocks, but glad it was our last, because it was the hardest of all seven. I was excited though, that we accomplished it, helping each other along the way. Very glad we didn't take our dog, who hikes well, but it would have been next to impossible to take her up the steep rocks and crevices. It was definitely worth the CHALLENGE! and the view was beautiful, but at our age, that will be our last time up there!

By: Chantilly Hokie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 23, 2013
Very nice hike. The Boy Scout connector off the AT is not blazed in blue but in yellow.

By: Tony and Gretchan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 16, 2013
This was a wonderful hike! We had done it before, but this time with our group from the Roanoke 7 Summits. It was not hard, just long and beautiful. It was a very foggy day, and some of the fog may have been due to the recent brush fires, but it made for a different view while walking. When we arrived, it looked like nothing was out there, because of the fog. Not many times people get to see that view! Our dog enjoyed it as much as the other hikes!

By: ct Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 09, 2013
We entered the coordinates of the parking lot in our GPS and ended up in WV. After finally getting there we started the hike and almost immediately ran into two large groups of people. The hike up to the top was crowded with huge groups of college kids and nothing special. We brought our dog, which I would not recommend, and we had to basically carry our german shepherd the last .7 miles to the top and back down. The view up there was not worth the trouble. The only reason I would recommend this hike is if you want to be able to say you hiked .7 of the hardest miles on the app trail.

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Mid September
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