Taming the Dragon || JNF

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest
The summit of Dragons Tooth.
 

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 this hike 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
Dragons Tooth Trail.
 

While both of these pictures show an easy trail for hiking. Dragons Tooth Trail 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
The trail starts out easy.
 

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
This area is a great spot for camping.


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 needs to be taken to follow the white blazes to stay on route.

Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest



Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest
Rebar added to aide climbing.


Two sections of the trail have metal handholds. If these are wet, climb to the right-hand side and not the face of the hold. Ask me how I know...
Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest
Almost there.



Dragons Tooth Jefferson National Forest
The tooth is a monolith of Tuscarora quartzite.

 

The tooth is a monolith of Tuscarora quartzite. Find a good spot to drop your gear before climbing to the top. 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
From the view from Dragons Tooth, you can see the rest of the Virginia Triple Crown.


The view up the valley is amazing! From here you have North Mountain on the left of the valley. On the right of the valley 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. These three mountains make up the Virginia Triple Crown. Hiking all three peaks makes a 37-mile loop.

To see all the photos related to this hike and others in the Jefferson National Forest, navigate over to Navigate To Your Adventure on Flickr

Now It's Your Turn-

Have you hiked the Dragons Tooth or other hikes in the Jefferson Washington National Forest? Please leave a comment.

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