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8 hours ago

Fantastic hike! Not to be underestimated though, the elevation change and distance make this a formidable weekend challenge. That being said, we did it in a weekend (Friday-Sunday) but it was very taxing physically. The views from Mcaffe, Tinker cliffs, and Dragons tooth are great, each one better than the last. I would recommend getting as close to the North mountain trailhead as you can before making camp for the night so you can start it (with plenty of water, there are no water sources until a gas station/river at the end of the mountain) early and have the whole day to walk it. There are a good number of campsites along the ridge, the last one being about 1 mile from the end of the trail (so a little ways into the descent) which is where we camped because we could not make it all the way to the end. After north mountain, there is a much easier hike up to dragons tooth, although the last portion is a scramble. We left our bags on an outcrop and went to dragons tooth and back with only a water bottle and some snacks, highly recommended. The hike from dragons tooth back is very scenic, and features some great mountainous/woodland regions but also highlands and fields. A great hike! Would recommend: starting early on Friday if you want to do it in three days and not be rushed, and being able to carry a days worth of water (for drinking and cooking dinner if you plan to do so) for north mountain.

Had a great time first 3 day backpacking trip was a challenge but it was worth every second of it all!!

Great hike! Super long and tiring but amazing. Great views and so much fun.

I did this hike over 3 days with my dog. We started at Mcafee knob and hit tinker cliffs that day and spent the night at Lambert’s Meadow Shelter. We got up early and headed out to the Andy Lane trail to the north mountain. I read the reviews and stocked up on water, and found a waterfall about 2 miles into the north mountain trail. The hike up the north mountain was no joke, it is steep and long! We made it across and spent the night at the Boy Scout campground by the dragons Tooth parking lot that night. Got up early and went up to dragons tooth (dog couldn’t do the last 500 yards due to the iron ladder climb) so we headed back down and picked up the AT back to the McAfee knob parking lot. Great hike, not crowded at all, but it is definitely a hard one!

limited on time I got dropped off at dragons tooth and hiked to McAfee knob parking lot for 10 miles. started the next morning at that parking lot and hiked about 13 -14 miles to andy Layne trailhead. good hike if someone can drive you around. got to hit all three icons. skipped north mountain.

wanted to hike in to Wallace Peak from Scotchtown Draft Rd and then return. the first two miles the trail was in good condition at two miles we went through some pricker bushes on the trail but it was just a nuisance. once we hit three miles we entered some serious brambles that got worse and worse. After fighting through them for a quarter mile we gave up when they looked to continue along the ridge top. Judging by how bad they were I would say it has been awhile since anyone traversed this end of the trail. If the brambles were cut back it would have been a nice quiet hike.

3 months ago

Has been a few years since I did this hike, but connected it with the south loop and managed to extend my stay for five days. The north trail was definitely less populated, but also the trails were less well maintained. Still an excellent hike, but I remember the south loop being more scenic.

3 months ago

Link below is the map provided at the trailhead with more descriptions.


According to this link the trail (which starts at at the Hope Schoolhouse) is 28.8 miles NOT 20.1. Definitely have this handy or pick up a physical map at the trailhead. AllTrail has you start at "X" or the Iron Furnace which still has a stand for maps and registration.

Other than that, this really was a nice trail for getting my wife over fearing backpacking. Sections W through X have a lot of Creek crossings that get a bit confusing. This is where most of the overgrown parts and downed trees are concentrated. Nothing impassable of course. Campsites we're great as was the water availability.

My only reason for a four star rating was the lack of solitude and the lack of scenic overlooks. If you like fairly brief climbs and descents in to forest creeks and lush hillsides this is a great hike.

4 months ago

Great trails and well maintained. Campsites have water and pit toilets available. great place to start backpacking.

Managed to finish the loop in 2 days, most of the trail is really easy going. there are camp sites all through out the trail and a great water source before north mountain. I brought extra from reading other peoples reviews but had plenty left when we got back on the AT. there are probably half a dozen camp sites on the north mountain trail and honestly I enjoyed that section more than the AT. Saw no one else on that section of trail and you are just walking this beautiful ridge for miles. wouldn't do the whole thing again but it was a fun over nighter.

4 months ago

We hiked this trail in late July and enjoyed large portions of it. The portion of the trail north of campground 3 was disappointing though. There were spider webs across the path probably about every 100 feet so you couldn’t really enjoy the hike or sites without that constant distraction.

Loved it. The end was kinda sketchy. We ended up behind the nature preserve building and walked the street back to the car. We lucked out and everything was dry. Would be pretty messy if it were all wet.

Great trail, took me about 45 minutes to surf, so it’s not too long, but I would still recommend it to any level of hiker!

muddy but beautiful very steep and worn trails can be confusing at times but most turnoffs are short loops and arent too hard to figure out!! lots of mushrooms and newts!

Just hiked in past the suspension bridge down to the river's edge (where one would need to cross to continue the trail) and returned. I think it turned out to be 5 or 6 miles total. Lovely hike, saw many birds, wildflowers, and views of the river from different vantage points. The suspension bridge is obviously very cool as well.

6 months ago

Did this in three days! Lots of rain, but still got lots of great views. Definitely hard on the joints but worth it!

Great trails, lots of nice variety along the AT. Lots of places to fill up with water on the AT.

Best hiking in Virginia in my opinion, Dragons tooth was exceptional and extremely rewarding upon reaching the summit. I did this hike as a warm up to prepare for a much longer backpacking trip and i'm glad I did because I learned a lot about my gear and my self. Mental toughness is definitely a factor on this hike and demands focus and determination since there is a 15 mile stretch without water. Great hike to do if you are on the fence about thru-hiking the AT, i'm ready for it now.

Great hike.. awesome views .. suspension bridge.. remember the bear spray!!!

Did loop midweek and had trail and Campsite#3 to myself. Well marked. Water at campsite is nice. Some spots are muddy after a rain but passable.

Excellent trail we only walked in 5 miles. The roaring creek and suspension bridge is amazing.

We've done the north loop, it was beautiful but pretty tough. Heavy rain can make the creek a little scary, but it's largely avoidable. the campgrounds are nice, especially having the access to water. Go early on weekends, the parking lot seems to fill up quickly.

We did this loop last week with 5 of us (2 teenagers, 1 in shape 70 year old, and 2 40 somethings).. Day 1: we started at the dragon's tooth parking lot at 1:00 and hiked to the John Springs Shelter. Day 2: we hiked from John Springs Shelter to McAfee's Knob, then Tinker Cliffs and then down to Andy Lane Trail to the Catawba Valley trail. We camped night 2 pretty close to Catawba Valley trail head - across the street from the parking lot - camping is not allowed on the Andy Spring trail, but is allowed on the Catawba Valley Trail and on North Mountain. wish we had known there was a significant water source about 1/2 mile from the Catawba Valley trail head on your way up to North Mountain. We hiked the Catawba Valley Trail and the entire North Mountain in one day. we passed our car at the dragon's tooth parking lot and camped at the boy scout camp on the boy scout connector trail on day 3 (mainly because it has a water source). Day 4 we put our packs in the car and hiked the dragon's tooth loop. We'd so the same again except start earlier in the day on day one to make it to either Catawba Shelter or Campbell Shelter.

9 months ago

Amazing trail. Was windy and a little snowed in after mcafees onto tinkers (some 3 foot snow drifts). But 100% worth the effort. Did the hike in 4 days 3 nights to take our time as a group of 3.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Did from Dragons Tooth parking lot to the top of Dragons Tooth then over to McAfee’s Knob then to Tinker Cliffs and down the Andy Layne Trail one day 24.7 miles 10 hours.Don’t recommend it but would I do it again probably but not solo lol.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Beautiful views and great memories made on this strenuous 2.5 day/2 night trip. Started in Mcafees parking lot at 4 pm Friday and hiked up to the pig farm camping area to camp. Hiked .5 miles back to mcafees knob for sunrise then next morning and then hiked to Tinker cliffs by 11 and after a break made it to the parking lot by 1:30 pm via the Andy Layne Trail. Hiked up the Cawtaba Valley Trail to the north mountain trail, no water for the rest of Saturday and early Sunday so stock up! Camped near the Turkey trail intersection and then hiked the rest of north mountain by 10 am on Sunday after a 6 am start. Hiked dragons tooth and were heading back to Mcafees on the AT by 1:50pm Sunday. Got back to the Mcafees parking lot at 5:45 pm Sunday. Awesome hike but be prepared for a tough hike if you plan on finishing in a weekend!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Short but difficult. Some loops are confusing to navigate

Friday, November 17, 2017

A long week on the trail - very rocky and difficult in places.Long stretches with no water.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Excellent little used trail system. After a good climb up the ridge, which looks like it could be muddy in wet weather, the trail follows the edges of the large ridge. Easy to spend 1-2 hours on the loops and overlooks. Nice views of the valleys with quite a few benches to rest and take in the forest. There’s sufficient signs but it’s best to take a map or gps if you don’t want too much exploring to get back to the parking lot. The area is named Forest Ridge Preserve.

Monday, October 23, 2017

I completed the VA Triple Crown this past weekend and it was AMAZING! VA is beautiful!

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