Hike Dragon's Tooth

Virginia Dragon's Tooth Trailhead

  • Activities:


  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    4.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1250 Feet

Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Picnic Area

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)
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Overall rating: 

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A lot more challenging than I was expecting along the AT but none the less it was such a good and high energy day hike

23 days ago
23 days ago

This is by far my favorite hike of the Roanoke area the hike up is amazing but when you hit the fest rock climbing/scrambling the real fun starts if you aren't use to this you will be sore the next day but it's worth every second the view from the tooth is truly amazing

about 1 month ago
about 1 month ago

I describe Dragonstooth as an adult's playground. The entire hike was a lot of fun. The rock scrambles were challenging and a little bit scary-getting a little bit close to the edge at some points. Lots of places to stop and climb on rocks. At the top there is a clearing perfect for camping or hanging a hammock, as well as spots where you can climb up the rocks. The final climb to the top of the "teeth" is awesome and gives some amazing views.

8 months ago
8 months ago

Love Dragon's Tooth. Short but super fun especially when you get to the rock scrambling section. Just be careful. Kids and dogs may not be recommended, however I've done it with both. Just be aware of what you're getting into.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Definitely big on the rock scrambles/climbing along the trail and especially on the tooth at the top. Probably spent over an hour climbing on just about everything I saw up there. Overall awesome, short day hike!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The dragon's tooth rocks are a sight to behold! The hike starts off very easy with gradual elevation, about half way up it gets steeper and demands a little rock scrambling at times. I would not recommend pets though I have seen some out there. Another amazing hike in the Shenandoah, but this hike is well known and can get crowded, so get out there early or pick a weekend to get those teeth and their great views all to yourself.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Though this hike is short in distance, it is quite difficult due to all the rock scrambling. As the post says, it's not recommended for dogs because of the scrambling. The trail is full of wildflowers in spring, but the view is great any time of the year. It is also a lot less crowded than the nearby McAfee Knob.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

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