Explore the most popular trail running 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.

First time hiking this trail after a week of rain, and gotta saw it was wet, sweaty, challenging, long but totally worth it. I took my shmedium size dog (25lbs) with myself and a friend. If I didn’t have a friend with me to help scale those rocks I wouldn’t have gone to the top. It’s worth the 3 hour hike careful coming down. Plenty of dogs on the trail but if you do take a dog bring a buddy to help!

Great trail for all skill levels.

hiking
10 days ago

My 13, 10 yr old and I did this hike and it was a lot of fun! The rock scramble at the end was just challenging enough to make it an adventure. I did see a lot of people with dogs, but I'm glad I didn't bring ours. You definitely need 2 hands free to safely climb the rocks, both up and down.

Incredible hike and absolutely stunning scenery. Beautiful river and waterfalls.

I absolutely loved this trail. I stumbled on it while vacationing in the area just below the Carolina border. I purposely chose it because of the name and the hard rating. It did not disappoint!

If you're in the area I highly recommended it. It's worth the drive and the views are incredible. It's definitely a challenge so gauge whether or not you're up for the elevations and distance.

I recommend good hiking boots and 2 to 3 L of water depending on the heat.

backpacking
18 days ago

Started our AT section hike here at Dragons Tooth trailhead. Nice little scramble up to the Tooth. The terrain was very rocky in sections (use trekking poles) and offered a little bouldering too. View was awesome at the top. One of my favs.

Amazing hike! It took us 3 hours exactly for round trip. Much more climbing than anticipated, but so fun!

This trail includes a beautiful forest and incredible views from the balds. You will start out at the A.T. trailhead in Elk Garden. You'll want to take the trail that leads to Whitetop and not cross the road. The Elk Garden trail is a different trail than this one. There are a lot of roots and rocks throughout the trail but it's also well maintained. For an elevation gain over 1,000 ft it's an easy trail. No really steep hills or anything. You'll stay in the forest for a while then you will come out at a gravel road that leads up the summit of Whitetop. Follow the A.T. signs and cross the road and you will hike in a field with beautiful views around you. There seemed to be a few water sources through this area. You'll go back through another forested area then come out at the balds before Buzzard rock. The views from this area are incredible! You'll want to hang out for a while at the rocks. When heading back you can go back the way you came on the A.T. or bear off to the left on the balds and go to the summit of Whitetop, then follow a gravel road back down till you come back to the turnoff on the A.T. Take sunblock! You're really out in the open on the balds.

Beautiful views and a great workout.

My favorite hike. It's a nice hike up but then you hit the rocks you have to climb and it just makes it so much better. Though it was pretty crowed. We didn't have a lot of options to rest and look at the view with everyone else in the way.

The hike starts out with a steep climb up Gateway trail. I took the connecting trail to Snake Root trail (and saw a snake!) then poverty creek horse trail to Jacobs ladder, another steep climb. Fantastic workout and an absolutely beautiful trail system. No dramatic overlooks but lush plant life, some wildlife, and pretty creek crossings along the way. I set up my hammock for a break at the base of Jacobs Ladder. I’m a fairly consistent weekend hiker ( not a runner) and it took me 4 hours and 18 minutes including my break. Had my chihuahua with me, too.

26 days ago

Average uphill trail. Nothing stood out. The star is more enjoyable when you drive up.

hiking
27 days ago

This is a difficult hike, especially if the trail is wet as portions are very narrow with loose rock.

hiking
28 days ago

I started from the campground and walked up on top of Little Walker Mountain and along the ridge before descending back down towards the creek and trailhead on 717. There were a couple of medium sized wild game birds that took of flying. After taking a break at the picnic area I decided it would be more interesting to follow East Stony Fork back to the campground rather than either walking back the trail or following 717 back. The walk down through and along the stream was challenging at times, but it is definitely worth it if you are not in a hurry because that was the most scenic portion of the whole day. There are a couple of small water falls to look at and other stone outcroppings that stand out next to the stream. Plus, the sound of the rushing water is very soothing. Some parts of that portion are open and easy while others have a lot of brush, fallen timber and rhododendron thickets. I’d definitely do the trail again and would like to try trout fishing along East Fork.

hiking
30 days ago

My first time hiking this trail, I was not disappointed. I enjoy hikes where I can push myself. Beautiful spring morning, as usual I hike mornings to beat the crowd. I saw some wild flowers, a Bellwort, another first. Great views from the top, ate lunch and rested a bit before heading back down. Only 45 minutes from Blacksburg, I will go again soon.

Great trail run to work on elevation training! Can be a challenging run at times. Views from the top are pretty nice. Continue on to Jacobs latter trail and get onto poverty creek to extend your run/hike.

A fun hike. I don't think I'd classify as "Hard" but there's a bit of rock hopping. It does have a pretty unique summit. Fun for pretty much the whole fam. Littles may need to be carried for 1/3 or more of the hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail to hike! Especially in the morning and it was a quick one too considering how I did this one right before my friend’s wedding in the evening. Took me about 5 hours to and back. The hike to the top consists of about 1.7 miles of uphill climb followed by 0.7 mile of climbing over rocks. Word of caution, there is no cell reception until you get to the top, so it’s advisable to hike with someone for safety.

Super fun hike! Several stream crossings and lots of rock scrambling towards the top. A bit tricky towards the dragon tooth but that's what makes it fun. Took us about 2:30 round trip.

hiking
1 month ago

very uphill! fun if you love climbing rocks- i mean LOVE climbing rocks. saw many people with dogs!

Unbelievably funnnnn trail with the rock scramble! We were so nervous to try it out but sooooooo thankful we didn’t chicken out! Best hike everrr! It’s an absolute full body workout once you get to the scramble! You need good shoes, hands free and plenty of water. And you gotta get back down the same way so be ready for that!! Best day ever!! You gotta do this hike!!

hiking
1 month ago

A nice trail in and a great summit & view. The problem is that this peak was busier than last weekend's amusement park visit. Use the boy scout trail and the AT for a more technical, less traveled, and better hike. Would visit again when college kids are in class or not in session.

It was so good to get out and hike on Gateway Trail, Easter Sunday afternoon. If like a good elevation climb, and only have an hour and a half, Gateway is a great up and back trail that will get your heart pumping .

hiking
1 month ago

loved this trail, I've hiked it twice. great views and an easy trail

Really fun, not that hard.

backpacking
1 month ago

After hiking in from Pickles Branch Shelter up to the summit and then having to climb down this trail was a real kicker. Not for sissies or old guys like me. Hiked this with a 40 lb pack down ladders, narrow ledges hugging the rocks and tight spaces. Would discourage anyone from doing this if the rocks were wet. The short hike off the trail down to Dragon’s Tooth offers some great views of the rock formations. Mother Nature at her finest.

hiking
1 month ago

Loved this hike!! Loved the steep terrain and rock climbing/walking!! Worth doing again!!

Perfect hike! So fun and easy.

hiking
2 months ago

Started in the morning about 10 was to the top by 12 was able to make lunch where the old firepower was the snow made it absolutely beautiful great beginner hike highly recommend it

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