Enjoy amazing views along the hike to the top. There's a fun, 0.7 mile rock crawl along the way. If you choose to make this an overnight, there are scenic campsites (with water access).

From I-81: Exit 140 and take Highway 311 north for 11 miles towards New Castle. Dragon’s Tooth parking lot is on the left, just past Catawba Grocery.
LAT 37.3787 LONG -80.1563

Ready to tackle the Dragon? This 4.6 mile, out and back, trail provides one with a true hiking experience. The hike will take approximately 3 hours, including a half-hour spent exploring up top. As you pull into the trail head parking lot, watch your speed, it's a short, but bumpy pull into the lot. The lot is usually pretty full in the middle of the day. There are outhouse type bathroom facilities at the trail head (hand sanitizer is provided). There is an information kiosk at the trail head that provides a map and important information about the trail and what kind of things you may encounter on your journey. There is no fee to enjoy this hike. As you follow the blue blazed trail from the kiosk you will venture your way, shaded by the trees, into some amazing places to set up camp for a night, just .30 from the kiosk! In addition, there is a water source next to the camp sights in the form of a creek. You will see a sign pointing to the "boy scouts trail" to the left or the Dragon's Tooth trail which bears right. From this point, the trail will cross a creek several times. The first few crossings are in the form of wooden bridges and the next several crossings are by steps on rocks within the creek. Watch your footing! Some of the rocks are unstable and wet. After crossing the creek for the final time, the trail begins a slight ascent for the next mile. Luckily, this part of the trail is shaded by trees.

Once you reach the "Appalachian Trail" sign there are more areas to camp (without a water source). The next 0.7 miles are strenuous, in the sun mostly, to the top, or I should say tooth! From this point on, I would recommend not bringing along any older dogs that may have difficulty climbing rocks or going up very step embankments. The rock crawl does require some endurance and pulling yourself up and over rocks. No rock climbing experience is necessary in order to complete this fun, challenging hike. The rocks are marked by a white marker so you know which way to travel up the rocks. Take your time and enjoy the aw-inspiring views that flourish among this trail. Once you are nearing the top of the trail, some of the more challenging rocks have metal foot holds built into the rocks to assist you up. Once you make it to the top of the ridge, bear to the left and follow the trail for another .2 to the tooth.

At the top, the trail features some of the most breath taking views, of the mountains, surrounding Roanoke. For an even more spectacular view, make sure you follow the rocks around to the front of the tooth. Climb under or over the rock in between the two boulders. Once you make it to the top of the tooth, be sure to pull out your camera and snap some pictures.

The top of the tooth makes for a perfect place to enjoy a packed meal or if you'd rather eat after, I would suggest stopping by the Home Place Restaurant located at 4968 Catawba Valley Dr., Catawba. This place is a local favorite known to serve some of the best southern cooking in Virginia. Keep in mind the Home Place is only from 4-8p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 11a.m.-6p.m. Sunday. Simply follow the same trail you hiked up, in order to return to the parking lot.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Daypack (unless camping)
  • Snacks
  • Band Aids
  • Camera
  • Light jacket (It can be windy at the top)
Show More
RT Distance 4.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1250 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Dragon's Tooth

The first part of the hike is a trail through the woods. Eventually you'll come to the section where you have to start climbing up rocks. I HAVE YET TO FIND A HIKE MORE FUN THAN THIS ONE. I was not expecting the rock climbing to be as great as it was. It's tiring but not difficult. As for the top - not the best view I've seen around the area but still stunning. Highly recommend.

Adult Jungle Gym

The last .7 of a mile to the top is the most fun I’ve had hiking in a long time. And the top at sunset is incredible. Hope to go back soon.

Super Fun

I hiked this a day or two after an ice storm - it was warm enough out for the hike, but the melting ice made the landscape super unique & fun. I love the variation in this trail from walking through the woods to climbing along the ridgeline. The views from the Tooth aren't bad either!


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