Taming the Dragon
The image of a medieval warrior swinging a broadsword comes to mind when I say 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 do this hike 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.
While both of these pictures show an easy trail for hiking (Dragons Tooth Trail) this changes 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!
From the saddle, it's about one mile to the top and this one-mile section is know to be one of the hardest sections on the Appalachian Trail. Pictured below is the saddle and is the location of some camping spots.**No water**
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.
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...
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.
The view up the valley is amazing! From here you have North Mountain on the left of the picture. The high mountain top above the cloud is McAfee Knob which is the most photograph point on the Appalachian Trail. Between these two points and what looks like a grey 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.