Taming the Dragon || JNF

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest 


The image of a medieval warrior swinging a broadsword comes to mind when I think of Dragons Tooth, but the Dragons Tooth I am talking about is part of the Virginia Triple Crown. Located just west of Roanoke Virginia, on Cove Mountain, Dragons Tooth is south of McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs which make up the iconic Virginia Triple Crown know for their incredible vistas.


On this day, a group of us gathered at the trailhead parking lot to hike Dragon's Tooth as a day hike. While we made it a circuit using the Dragons Tooth Trail (blue blaze), Appalachian Trail (white blaze), and the Boy Scout Connector Trail (yellow blaze). You can make it an out and back hike or counterclockwise from what I have listed above.


Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest 

While both of these pictures show an easy trail for hiking (Dragons Tooth Trail) this becomes changing once you hit the saddle where Dragons Tooth and the Appalachian Trail meet. You will also cross the creek 7-8 times while hiking the Dragons Tooth Trail and this is the only water source in the area.** A word of caution ** while this hike is only around 5 miles it will take you about 4 1/2 hours to hike. So be prepared! 

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest 


From the saddle, it's about one mile to the top, and this one-mile section is known to be one of the hardest sections on the Appalachian Trail. Pictured below is the saddle and is the location of some backcountry camping spots.**No water**

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest

Pictured below is where the fun begins and I would rate this scramble as a 2 on the rating scale. Maybe a 2 plus in spots. I also caution you to look for the white blazes to stay on route.

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest


Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest

Two sections of the trail have metal handholds. If these are wet, climb using the right-hand side and not the face (long part) of the hold. Ask me how I know...

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest


Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest 

The tooth is a monolith of Tuscarora quartzite. Find a good spot to drop your gear before climbing. There’s not a lot of room on the rocks and a shift of a pack is something you don't need while you are up there. While it's nice to eat lunch with such a great view, it's best to eat where you dropped your gear.

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest

The view up the valley is amazing! From here you have North Mountain on the left of the picture. On the right is McAfee Knob which is the most photograph point on the Appalachian Trail. Between these two points, the mountain top above the cloud in the picture is Tinker Cliffs. If you were to do the Virginia Triple Crown you would cover all of that area and makes for a 37-mile loop.

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