Best camping trails in Jefferson National Forest, Virginia

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Explore the most popular camping trails in Jefferson National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of camping trails in Jefferson National Forest, Virginia
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Top trails (31)
#1 - Dragon's Tooth Trail
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 4.1 mi • Est. 2 h 29 m
The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club maintains this section of trail and volunteers regularly pack out trash and maintain campsites to keep it beautiful. Please be mindful. Park rules and regulations are enforced: -Maximum group size, day hikes: 25 -Maximum group size, backpacking/camping: 10 -No alcohol -Dogs must be kept on leash at all times -No camping or campfires outside of 7 designated areas (north of VA 624/Newport Rd, the only legal campsites are Johns Spring Shelter, Catawba Shelter and campsites, Pig Farm campsite, Campbell Shelter and Lambert’s Meadow Shelter and campsites) -No camping or campfires on McAfee Knob or Tinker CliffsShow more
#2 - Devil's Marbleyard Via Belfast Trail
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 4.5 mi • Est. 2 h 48 m
#3 - Virginia's Triple Crown Loop
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 35.1 mi • Est. Multi-day
The Virginia Triple Crown is comprised of what many consider to be the state’s three best hiking destinations: McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs and Dragon’s Tooth. All are conveniently located within a few miles of each other just outside of Roanoke.  McAfee Knob affords a 270-degree view of the Catawba Valley far below and has been called the most photographed spot along the Appalachian Trail. Just a few miles north on the AT is Tinker Cliffs, another prominent outcropping of rock offering a view of the same valley and distant mountain ranges.  A few miles southwest just inside the boundaries of Jefferson National Forest resides Dragon’s Tooth, a unique geologic feature consisting of spires projecting up to 35 feet from the surrounding rock. Any of these is a worthy destination for a challenging day hike. You might be able to hit 2 of 3 on an extended day hike, but taking in all three requires an overnight stay.  The more common routes are either shuttle hikes or require lots of backtracking. This is a 3-day, 35-mile loop that circumnavigates the entire valley, hits all three viewpoints, and minimizes backtracking.  In this route, you’ll hike the AT for several miles, camp at an AT shelter, cross the valley, return on the western side of the valley via the North Mountain ridge, cross the valley again, and rejoin the AT to return to your car at the Catawba Mountain parking area on Route 311.  As designed, this 35-mile loop is broken roughly into thirds. There are several parking areas, shelters and backcountry camping spots along the way, so you could divvy it up differently to suit your needs.  This trek is not recommended for beginners as this route involves lots of climbing, rock scrambles, blustery ridges and a whole day without water sources (you’ll have to carry lots of water up North Mountain for Day 2).  Please leave no trace and be mindful of trash. This trail sees a large number of traffic and has been having problems with rising trash, illegal camping and misuse of the area. The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club maintains this section of trail and volunteers regularly pack out trash and maintain campsites to keep it beautiful. Park rules and regulations are enforced: Maximum group size, day hikes: 25 Maximum group size, backpacking/camping: 10 No alcohol Dogs must be kept on leash at all times No camping or campfires outside of 7 designated areas ( north of Va 624/Newport Rd, the only legal campsites are Johns Spring Shelter, Catawba Shelter and campsites, Pig Farm campsite, Campbell Shelter and Lambert’s Meadow Shelter and campsites) No camping or campfires on McAfee Knob or Tinker CliffsShow more
#4 - Virginia Creeper National Recreational Trail
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 33.1 mi • Est. Multi-day
Over 30 miles long and beautiful, this trail weaves through forest, farms, and fields. It is used for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The Virginia Creeper Trail is rich in beauty and regional history. This is an easy adventure that you and your friends will talk about for a long time. From Abingdon, Virginia, it goes down thru the lovely town of Damascus, VA (known as the Heart of the VA Creeper) along the Whitetop Laurel River and up to its highest point Whitetop Station near the NC State Line at Whitetop, Virginia. This former rail bed passes through the Mount Rogers National Recreation area and the highland country of southwestern Virginia. Accessibility: The trail surface is partially paved and partially gravel. It is typically at least four feet wide. The estimated average grade is 4% and there are steep sections where the grade is between 10% and 15% (at about 5.4 miles, 7.5 miles, 14.3 miles, and 28.2 miles). Wheelchair/mobility equipment or stroller users may need assistance in the steep sections.Show more
#5 - Mount Rogers and Appalachian Trail Loop
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 21.2 mi • Est. 10 h 54 m
#6 - Mount Rogers via Appalachian Trail
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 8.6 mi • Est. 4 h 39 m
Hike along the Appalachian Trail leading to the summit of Mount Rogers, Virginia's highest peak (5,729 feet). This hike provides an incredibly scenic overview of the Appalachians' most intriguing ecosystems, including long-range vistas from open "balds" and dark spruce-fir forests nearest the summit. This guide also discusses some of the fascinating natural history of these habitats, which is almost as dramatic as the scenery itself.Show more
#7 - Virginia Creeper Trail: Damascus to Whitetop
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 17.1 mi • Est. 8 h 19 m
#8 - Dragon's Tooth, Mcafee Knob and Tinker Cliff's
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 20.5 mi • Est. 11 h 13 m
Andy Lane Trail - Dragon's Tooth - Mcafee Knob - Tinker Cliff's - Andy Lane Trail to parking lot. Show more
#9 - Gateway Trail to Jacob's Ladder to Snakeroot Loop Trail
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 7.4 mi • Est. 4 h 6 m
#10 - Mount Rogers, Pine Mountain Trail, and Wilson Creek Trail Loop
Jefferson National Forest
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Length: 13.5 mi • Est. 6 h 51 m
Overnight parking is now limited to the Overnight Backpackers Lot and reservations are required. Backcountry camping is not allowed within the state park boundaries, so you must hike onto USFS property before setting up. Check the park’s webpage for the most up to date information on reservations, trail closures, fees or requirements at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/grayson-highlands.Show more
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