Explore the most popular walking 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.

Great day for a hike. Left early due to chance of thunder storms but got lucky. I think I like this route better than from Grayson Highland since you're hiking through the forest. Several people I met on the trail asked about the views and you just have to realize it's not about the View. As always Mt. Rogers is just different and unique. Great smell in the cedar forest. Actual distance is closer to 9 miles

We had hiked McAfee and many other trails in Virginia and finally had a moment to tackle Dragons Tooth. On a weekday, plenty of parking and the trail was in great condition. The last .5 Miles was a challenging scramble but well worth the effort.

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!

Hiked this a few times with some friends and loved it! It is a bit challenging to hike up the mountain, but the trail is very well maintained which makes things easier. I suggest hiking up to the top early in the morning so that you can enjoy a few hours actually inside the Channels and on top of the mountain. If I’m ever out that way again, I would definitely hike this trail again!

Great trail for all skill levels.

Trail was extremely rocky, harsh on the ankles. Also it seems to be more of a dirt biking trail now. Not much fun to hike, will stick to the AT in this area.

12 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.

It was a great hike, my dog enjoyed it as well. It’s basically all up hill until you get to the channels but the average person could easily hike this(not saying you won’t be tired). It has an amazing view at the top and then you can wind down in the channels and explore. Loved the hike and will definitely do it again.

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.

17 days ago

Very easy nice distance walk. The waterfall at the end is beautiful!! So much wild life you can see.

20 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.

This is a pretty hard trike. Some points it feels like your going straight up. It has good views but I've seen better.

Love the trail, and the Channels are amazing! Such a fun find! Definitely worth the trip. Nothing to really break out the camera for until you hit your second mile or so. Pretty bland trail till then. The trail was very well marked and easy to follow. My only complaint would be the amount of trash of the trail. Its really sad to see that people don't have more respect than that.

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.

28 days ago

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

Other than the first half mile which is on a gravel road this is a great hike with several vistas. I only did 4 miles out and back since the wind was blowing 25 to 30 miles an hour but it was still a nice hike.

30 days ago

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

30 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.

Whoever said it was a moderate grade was nuts. If you are over 50 and out of shape this is not your hike. I'm over 60 and consider myself to be in good shape for my age compared to other people over 60. It took me 2 hours to get up to the top. And I did enjoy the channels once I got there but the prospect of having to go 3 miles down the hill was not a pleasant thought so it really dampened the entire experience for me. I've never seen a sign that said there was a rescue squad available at the beginning of a trail which should tell you something about how hard it is to get up there. I saw too many people bend over gasping for air over 30 years younger than myself. I do not recommend this hike if you are over 50. the grades I think are fairly steep in places. it would have been nice if there were benches periodically where people could sit down. And for Heaven's sake don't bring a toddler unless you plan to carry them. That is too long of a stretch for little legs. If you do decide to take this hike, bring plenty and I do mean plenty of water and snacks and dress in layers.

1 month 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.

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.

Nice early April Day for a hike to the Channels. Different perspective from the last early August hike. With a mid 70's day it actually pretty chilly down amongst the channels. Always a good hike.

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