McAfee Knob - JNF Roanoke
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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: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 20, 2015
I drove for 3 hours to get here, the drive up to the parking lot is not so nice for low bottom cars. The Parking lot is a good size when I got there around 1130AM ish, and the Trail Head is well marked. The Blue Trail that lead up to the AT and to the Summit is heavily hiked, it's like you can drive a 4 wheeler up, well until you hit the rock scrambles. If you like this trail, I would suggest hiking Old Rag in SNP. Anyways, it seems most people don't do the loop, but go up and come down the same way. I would suggest doing the loop and taking Boy Scout back to the parking lot. You will see some good views and there is some more rock scrambles going down. Also that part of the trail is really hip wide and you avoid the crowd that is coming down or up.

By: Matt Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 20, 2015
Great Hike!!! My friends and I really enjoyed this hike. The trail is a constant uphill and you don't get many breaks, but once you get to the top it is absolutely worth it. We really enjoyed the rock scrambling and we had the Dragons Tooth all to ourselves for a good 20-30 minutes before other hikers got there. I'd encourage you to check out the view from the tooth and know that there is plenty of room for several people without having to climb all the way to the top. I'm a chicken when it comes to heights, but I'm really glad I decided to climb up and check it out from the tooth. I didn't need to climb all the way to the top to get the same great views and it was well worth it. *****Side note...Please be prepared. We saw several people hiking with no water or supplies and several with little more than a water bottle in hand. Things can happen that are out of your control and fortunately there are people like me and my friends that bring plenty of first aid and gear to take care of you if an emergency should occur, but don't rely on others solely. Remember the basics: Food, Water, Shelter (a bivy bag or small tarp would suffice), Fire kit, Compass, map, and a small first aid kit are the bare necessities when you go backpacking. Others may disagree, but it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.***** Be safe and enjoy.

By: Ashley Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 02, 2015
An amazingly fun hike, and we lucked out with very few hikers on the trail until we started heading back down. Definitely not an easy hike (I did† find McAfee Knob more challenging), but I find that the time estimation on this website is a little exaggerated for the average adult hiker.The first 1.7ml is nice and easy, despite it being a pretty constant incline and took us only about 40min to complete. The last 0.7ml is definitely slower going, but we finished that in 40min as well. Be sure to follow the markers closely, it's easy to think you are following the trail but to actually be off if you don't see the markers. The view is lovely, and those who are comfortable can boulder up the tooth, but I left that to my friend and watched from the bottom. Going down we expected to be a bit slower, but it was still only 40min down the first 0.7ml, and 30min for the last 1.7ml, bringing our time to 2.5hrs, not including our break at the top. I definitely expect to do this hike at least a couple more times in the next year.

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.

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Mid September
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