Virginia's Triple Crown Hike
The mountains are calling your name!
Time to cross the Triple Crown hike off your bucket list.
Virginia's triple crown is a hidden gem of three spectacular trails: McAfee Knob, Dragon's tooth, and Tinker Cliffs. Each trail has it's one unique features surrounded by the lush landscape on the Appalachian Trail. For those not ready to do all three you can hike each one individually they are pretty close in proximity. o
This will be a 3 day 2 night hike as we do this epic loop consisting of minimally 38.5 miles- (I say minimally because trail signs lie and we don't hike in a straight line lol)
DRAGON'S TOOTH: 6/20/2021
We will be meeting at the Dragon's tooth parking lot at 7:30am for a meet and greet. We will start the hike at 8:00 am. The first leg of the journey is the hardest introduction to the rugged terrain. It is a 4.6 mile loop to the top. The first 1.5 miles is easier terrain hiking upwards through incline switchbacks up the North Mountain. We will hike through lush forest on a well marked trail. The last mile is essentially the hardest. We will only be taking up a day bag for this part of the leg. With warmer weather and water shortage it will make our safety much easier to scale the rocks. Yes you will be climbing rocks so this will involve hands on rocks, climbing up with iron handles for the incline, and it will involve boot scooting down. You do not need to be a rock climber. The goal is slow and steady and safe. At the top there is an epic Spire rock. Will you be so bold to get a picture at the top?
We will take a group picture at the base. Climbing on the rock is your own preference. We will take probably a good 30-45 minutes (depending on time and tourists maybe longer) to enjoy this amazing view.
We will then hike back 7.5 miles to the next stopping point which is McAfee parking lot. We will load up our overnight gear, refresh on water, and check supplies. Goal is to hit McAfee knob in time for sunset.
MCAFEE KNOB mid day on 6/20/2021
The next leg is McAfee knob. We will hike from Dragon's tooth 7.5 miles down to the McAfee Parking lot. We will refuel with water there, grab our night camping gear, stow our day bags, and take a quick break before heading the 2.5 miles to the campsite. This is strenuous as it is another vertical climb to the top. The campsite is the Catawba shelter. This is 2 miles from McAfee's knob. This will allow us to set up our campsite in broad day light , refuel, then take an easy up and back to the knob. If the timing is good we will hit McAfee knob by Sunset which is 8:30 pm. We will be hiking back to the camp site in the dark. I have done it 3 times so we will be fine. In the morning we will rise up head back past McAfee's knob. I can't promise sunrise lol but that depends on our group. We will then be heading to the next stop which is Tinker Cliffs. Total day 1 is 14-16 miles dependent on the day and our time.
Triple Crown Hike VA
June 20, 2021 -June 22, 2021
2-3 nights/3 days
Trip size: 10 including guide
COST: Free just pay for your own supplies and food
Wanderlust Explorations Highlights
Prep and practice if needed
Guided Itinerary and instruction (if needed)
Length: 38.5 Miles
Duration: 3 Days
Elevation Gain: 6,874 Feet
Peak Elevation: 3,197 Feet
Best Season to Hike: Spring through Fall
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Bear Canisters: Not Required
Permits: Not Required
Dogs: Allowed but not recommended
What is not included
Transportation to and from hiking site
Food and supplies
I would say depending on your fitness level #3-#5.
#5: OMG! I need oxygen. WTF my legs are like rubber. What was I thinking?
#4: I don't think I am gonna make it. I may need Bengay and a hot bath tonight.
#3: Out of breath. I may need to take up more spin classes when I get back. Hey at least I am getting my steps in.
#2: I will sleep good tonight.
#1: Just got to put my shoes on, get up, and go.
Please email me if you can no longer go. Since this is a limited event I would love to get someone else to go to fill the spot.
TINKER CLIFFS: 6/21/2021
From McAfee's Knob to Tinker Cliffs it is about 5.5 ish miles. This is a shorter planned day in case we have a contingency of hitting McAfee's knob this morning depending on how day 1 plays out. If not we will have a relaxing day and will camp for the night at Lamberts Meadow which is a little bit past Andy Lane.
ANDY'S LANE BACK TO DRAGON TOOTH PARKING LOT 6/22/2021
We will be taking the Andy Lane back which is through private property so we will see this beautiful bridge and cows if we are lucky. At the bottom of Andy Lane we will have another car stationed with water to help refuel before continuing on. There is also a creek for a water source. We follow this through till we reach the parking lot at 779 and cross the road to the yellow blazed North Mountain trail. We will turn left and hike south on the 311 until we reach Dragon's tooth parking lot. Total miles 15.5.
Dependent on time and energy we can do a group lunch before heading back home. BOOM triple crown hike done!!
This hike is going to have extra safety measures in place and I will coordinate with a few of you to help station our cars and extra water with garbage bags and any necessary safety items at each parking lot. This also gives someone a bail out route if you can't continue. We have a harder 1st day to make sure we can get to key campsites but contingencies for day two incase we can't get to McAfee know for sunset we will for sunrise. Due to limited water source and high temperatures following safety protocols will be critical.
We will not be hiking up Dragon's tooth with our night gear only a day bag with water and snacks to help elevate any unnecessary. We will be using the cars as staging NOT because I don't think we can do it but it will be summer weather and with lack of water I need to make sure we are all safe and have a safety plan and net for each of you.
This will be epic and breath taking and a true challenge to test ourselves. We will start together, hike together, and finish together. Remember everyone has their own skill level and jagged rocks and terrain is not something to rush on.
Anybody that is looking to head down Saturday night. I have no problem setting up a late group dinner. Best places to stay is to car camp in the parking lot or in the nearby town of Salem. If people want to split a room Saturday night let me know I can make arrangements we all split the costs.
If you are driving in you need to be at Dragon's tooth parking lot at 7:30 am on 6/20/2021 for start.
You will be responsible for transporting yourself to the hike and all your own items needed for camping.
I will be sending out an email with a packing list by Memorial day to help you guys get ready. I will also send out tips and tricks of how to prepare to do this hike.
Here is a downloadable map so you can see what we are doing and all the places we are stopping.
I will also be hosting a zoom preparation meeting on Thursday June 10th at 7pm. I will send out the links via email before. This will walk through everything, you will meet the other hikers, and I will keep you up to date on anything with the hike.
We will be doing significant incline hiking that will involve jagged rocks and uneven trails.
All trips/outings are rain or shine and it will be long days.
We will be staying in two back country camping sites which is considered primitive camping meaning there are no toilets.
This trip is geared specifically for the traveler, the photographer, the hiker, and the nature lover. We will be traveling as a group of no more than 10 to meet group camping guidelines.
For those that will be coming down Saturday night we can arrange a meet up for dinner and lodging if desired.
Information such as packing lists, preparation, and any other key points will be emailed out periodically before the trip.
Itineraries are subject to change based on extreme weather or things beyond our control.
You will be responsible for getting to the hiking locations.
In a tent is the best recommendation.
Depending on where you are coming from PA and up north 6 hours drive. Hampton Roads about 5.5 hours.
It is Spring early summer. It will be hot. There will be bugs. There may be rain.
Gear to Bring
A light weight tent that you can comfortably carry on your back, sleeping bag or blanket, pillow, and sleeping pad (most are inflatable). Food to be cooked (will discuss in prep email) water, (will also discuss) filtration system for steams (will send a few links) flashlight and or head lamp, hiking boots or sneakers with good tread. You need trail shoes that can take incline hiking and rocks. Hiking poles are good to have to help with balance and incline. Toilet paper and poop shovel. Light rain jacket (plastic cheap kind that can be tossed) clothes. This is NOT a trip to pack the world in your bag. Less is more. You do not want to hike 38 miles with it.
Since it is hot and buggy I recommend light long pants perhaps air wicking to not have sweat stick to you. Bug spray is a must so we will smell no matter what. If you were a tank top make sure your bare arms and shoulders will not rub raw with the bag on your back. Pack what you need. Definitely changes of socks. Hat and sunglasses are a must or something for your hair.