What is the Triple Crown?
The Triple Crown of Virginia is a set of three trails: Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. Not only are these fantastic and popular hiking spots, but they also ‘each have a breathtaking view of the Roanoke Valley of southwestern Virginia. Growing up in Virginia, I always loved the outdoors. It is a state that truly experiences all four seasons with grandeur and springtime is my favorite because it is perfect hiking weather.
The unique thing about the Triple Crown is that it can be explored multiple ways. Some choose to take different hikes over a period of time, while others decide to knock of the whole Triple Crown at once. This consists of a 32-mile loop that would take more than a day to explore and hike. If you are interested in a backpacking style getaway we recommend planning out a few days to experience the entire Triple Crown loop.
The title Dragon’s Tooth sounds a bit eerie and the hiking experience can be daunting, but it is totally worth it once you get to the top. There are jagged, sharp rocks all around the upward trek. A 2.3 mile hike may sound easy, but after about a mile and a half of hiking, the challenges really start to arise. It is not just a straight trail. You have to climb rocks and maneuver your way to the very top using your whole body.
There is of course a reason why this trail is referred to as ‘Dragon’s Tooth’. Those who are brave enough, seek out the tooth of the dragon. It is a climb to the top of the “tooth” which is a Quartzite rock formation that spikes upward of 35 feet above the trail. It is quite a sight to see!
From personal experience, this is a trail for those who are intermediate hikers. It is certainly doable as a beginner, just be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. We recommend hiking with friends for your first time.
During my hike, friends and I made our way the top by climbing the rocks and facing the challenges together. It was a wonderful bonding experience. At the top, we were sure to reward ourselves by roasting hot dogs over a portable mini grill in a toast to our victory!
McAfee Knob is a well-known hiking trail in Virginia; so well known that it is one of the most popular hiking journeys to embark on within the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whereas the Dragon’s Tooth trail is an upward hike to the top of the rock formation, McAfee Knob sticks straight out into the scenery, providing an astounding panoramic view.
Plan to spend a lot of time here because this hike is 4.4 miles one way and it takes several hours to complete. Be prepared with water, snacks and the proper gear such as wool socks and a hat. The long length of this trail comes from both the meandering trail but also the McAfee Knob itself, which peaks at over 3,000 feet!
The third leg of the Triple Crown are the Tinker Cliffs that feature over 2,000 feet of elevation and 3.8 miles of trail to hike.Although the length of trail is shorter, this is a tough hike with legs called Scorched Earth Gap and the Murder Hole Cave. This trial of a hike will push you, but in the end you will gain experience.The Tinker Cliffs can be found on Tinker Mountain. The cliffs are made up of limestone that has been around for more than 250 million years!
Whether you choose to explore one of these unique and extraordinary trails or all three of them, you are guaranteed a breathtaking view and an experience of a lifetime.