The Triple Crown is a combination of three amazing hiking destinations in Virginia. And they’re all conveniently located right around Roanoke. This overnight backpacking trip begins and ends at the Route 311 Appalachian Trail head. This is a difficult hike totaling about 32 miles.
There are several options for hitting the Triple Crown. There are shuttle systems that will transport you from trailhead to trailhead. You can also take advantage of the Appalachian Trail and hike your way between the trails on the Virginia Triple Crown Loop. The conditions for backpacking are subject to change. Stay updated before your trip and check in with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.
Rules & Regulations
The most photographed site on the Appalachian Trail includes a nearly 270-degree panorama of Catawba Valley, Tinker Cliffs, and the Roanoke Valley.
Breakdown: Beginning opposite of the parking lot off Route 311, you join the Appalachian Trail and head north toward the Knob. There’s an informational kiosk about 0.3 miles in. Follow the white blazes (rectangular paint marks on the trees) to stay on the right path. You’ll cross four wooden walkways and see the Johns Spring shelter. Then you’ll cross five more and pass the Catawba Mountain shelter. Next, cross an old fire road and power line clearing. Walk for another 0.5 mile and turn left on the McAfee Knob spur trail to arrive at the lookout. Come back the way you went up.
Streams, creek drainages, rock formations, and lush forest offer pleasant views on the hike up, which rises 1,700 feet in elevation. Bluff top views at the peak with a 180-degree panoramic view are spectacular.
Breakdown: You’ll start off of Catawba Road and follow the yellow-blazed Andy Layne Trail. You will cross two fence stiles, then two Catawba Creek bridges. Continue as trail bears left, then right after 100 feet. The hardest part of the hike includes a steep elevation gain with some areas of no switchbacks (zig-zagging). Three miles in, you will join the Appalachian Trail (white blazes). Continue and you will see a view of Broad Run Mountain. Next, you will reach a view of the Catawba Valley. The better view is 200 yards beyond this first view, with McAfee Knob clearly visible. Come back the way you went up.
Tuscarora quartzite spires that outcrop on the top of Cove Mountain are the distinguishing feature with the tallest “tooth” projecting about 35 feet above the surrounding “teeth.” The trail ascends the spine of Cove and North Mountain, called “Dragon’s Back” because it is composed of steep rock.
Breakdown: The trail starts with a kiosk at the back of the parking lot. You will follow the blue-blazed trail to the top. Go 0.25 mile and cross two small bridges. You’ll see the intersecting yellow-blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail. Bear right and continue on the blue-blazed trail. Continue for nearly 1.5 miles, crossing the creek several times on a steady incline before reaching the Appalachian Trail intersection. Turn right to go south on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. There will be 0.7 miles of steep rock steps before bearing left at the intersection to follow the blue-blazed trail to Dragon’s Tooth. Come back the way you went up, or once you reach the Appalachian Trail, go beyond the blue-blazed trail you started on and continue north on the A.T. until you reach the yellow-blazed Boy Scout Connector Trail. You’ll go left on this trail until you reach the blue-blazed Dragon’s Tooth Spur Trail, and go right toward the parking lot. This second route back offers different scenic views.
Here’s what we recommend taking for your day hike. (You’ll need more if you’re doing the Triple Crown Loop.)
Stay on the trails and don’t shortcut switchbacks in order to maintain the trails and prevent erosion. Take out anything you bring in. You can also volunteer to join the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club or their Meetup group to keep the Triple Crown trails beautiful. (Special thanks to the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club for their insider tips!)
Ober Brewing Company is a family-owned micro-brewery and taproom, focusing on sourcing as many local ingredients as possible, to create high quality enjoyable craft beer. Dave Ober studied brewing at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and has been homebrewing for about a decade.
Located at the very heart of Salem Virginia’s Historic Main Street District, Olde Salem Brewing Co. exudes history. The building was constructed just 114 years after the town was founded in 1806 by James Simpson; and was home to a well known appliance store for decades. Olde Salem believes its craft beers hold a piece of that history in every glass.
Open Tuesday through Sunday.
Parkway Brewing Company is a 4 vessel, 30 bbl micro-brewery with a 17,000 barrel capacity, in Salem, Virginia, specializing in distinctive ales for the discriminating beer enthusiast. Founded in 2012, Parkway Brewing offers several beers exclusively on-site, as well as flagship beers sold in bottles and kegs throughout Virginia.
Random live music, from old-time bluegrass to blues and rock, and a variety of food trucks make this a destination for weary travelers who need a break from driving on Interstate 81. A casual, low-key vibe, along with some stellar brews keep the locals coming back for more. Family friendly and boasting an outdoor beer garden, Parkway Brewing has become one of Salem’s most unique and welcome community assets.
The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Beliveau Estate Winery sits on 165 scenic acres nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just 30 minutes from downtown Salem.
The winery features award-winning red and white wines in dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet fashions are available for tasting, by the glass, and by the bottle. Bring your own picnic or order lite fare from our chef’s daily menu. Take advantage of the property’s spectacular mountain views, on-site hiking trails, fragrant lavender garden, covered veranda, stocked ponds, hilltop pavilion, Italian tiled reception hall, outdoor patio and tiki bar, and on-site French country-style bed and breakfast with catering.
The winery and tasting room are open Wednesday through Sunday.
The Homeplace Restaurant In Catawba, VA, is a favorite of Virginia Tech students and through-hikers along the Appalachian Trail. The family style menu features an all-you-can eat meal featuring comfort food classics for under $20.
The restaurant is inside a home built by the John Morgan family in 1907. The farmhouse was renovated and opened for business in 1982.
The Homeplace Restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday.
The mission of the Blue Ridge Horse Force is to promote grassroots showmanship and sportsmanship by uniting local open horse shows. BRHF shows are held by organizations ranging from 4-H groups to civic leagues to training stables to charitable organizations. All are able to raise more funds for their groups through increased BRHF member participation. Exhibitors can compete at any of these shows knowing that there will be uniformity in class descriptions and offerings.
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