This favorite area destination gets a little extra twist with the addition of the use of the Scout Trail on the way up (or the way down, for that matter, though it always seems wiser for us to get the hard part done before lunch and then coast afterwards). By hanging a left onto the Scout Trail a couple of tenths in, you get on the Appalachian Trail a mile-plus sooner than you do by going directly up the Dragon's Tooth Trail, and get to make your climb on the AT across Sawtooth Ridge, which provides nice views both east and west.
Then you get a little fairly level ridge walk before descending slightly to Lost Spectacles Gap, where the AT begins its rocky climb to Dragon's Tooth.
The Greatest Day Hiker of Them All groaned a little over those rocks, and this is certainly a harder 5.2 than most of such distance around Roanoke. You earn your lunch, which we enjoyed looking east toward Fort Lewis Mountain and up the Catawba Valley.
As we headed back down into the long afternoon shadows of an Eastern Standard Time afternoon, there were still sets of people headed up into the beautiful day toward the high point.
Dragon's Tooth Trail to Boy Scout Trail to Appalachian Trail to Dragon's Tooth formation; back on AT and DT trails. 5.2 miles.
How to get there: Va. 311 west from Salem, over Catawba Mountain and to the Dragon's Tooth Trail parking lot on the left.