Dragon's Tooth Trail to Appalachian Trail to Boy Scout Trail to Dragon's Tooth Trail loop. About 3.5 miles.
With a gimpy dog in tow and the neighborhood Halloween block party to get back to, we weenied out on one of the shortest hikes we ever do. Still, it's got some fun it in, with the easy climb of the Dragon's Tooth Trail, the quick climb of the Appalachian Trail to a ridge of Cove Mountain, and then several overlook points to both the east and west.
The best one, from our experience, is just before the full descent toward the intersection with the Boy Scout Trail. Here, on a rock overlook, the view takes in McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, the Catawba Valley, North Mountain and, in the distance on a nice day like this one, both Sharp Top and Flat Top. This view, of course, makes a great photograph, especially when the leaves are turning, but not so much when The Day Hiker leaves the camera at home.
The little stretch of the AT north beyond that lunch spot is deeply forested and pretty – a nice gentle stretch in contrast to the mostly rocky surface of the trail in this general area. And the Scout Trail must be for Cubs; it's short and sweet, delivering you quickly back to the last little stretch of the Dragon's Tooth Trail maybe .2 or .3 above the parking lot which was, when we returned, completely full.
How to get there: Va. 311 west out of Salem to the Dragon's Tooth Parking area on the left less than a mile beyond Va. 624, also on the left.
Hike, October 24, 2010