Triple Crown – Easiest Way


The Easiest Way

Please note I didn't state "The Easy Way". No matter what option you decide to go with, all are considered strenuous. What makes this first option the easiest is that you can break each of the three key destinations into three separate day hikes to be spaced out at your discretion. Feel free to do each day hike in any order you prefer.

Dragon's Tooth

Park at Dragon's Tooth Parking Lot (map below)

Begin hiking from the parking lot on Dragon's Tooth Trail. Stick to this trail for the next 1.7 miles until it joins the Appalachian Trail. At the junction with the AT continue southbound toward Dragon's Tooth for 0.7 miles. This section has some rock scrambling where you'll likely need to use your hands for short portions. After a steep ascent you'll reach another trail junction where you'll find a 0.1 mile spur trail that will take you to Dragon's Tooth.

Descend the same way you came up.

Mileage:  4.32 miles round trip

Elevation Gain Going Up:  +1,412 feet

Elevation Loss Going Up:  -194 feet

Dragon's Tooth

McAfee Knob

Park at McAfee Knob Parking Lot (map below)

Begin hiking by crossing the road near the trail kiosk at the end of the parking lot. You'll be hiking on the Appalachian Trail northbound. About a half mile into the hike you'll reach a fire road with a nearby trail kiosk. Don't stay on the fire road. Instead, look down to your right of the kiosk and you should see the Appalachian Trail continue through the woods. Look for the white blazes that mark the Appalachian Trail throughout the hike. For this next section of the hike you'll pass Johns Spring Shelter and Catawba Shelter. Each has a spring nearby in case you need water. Use a filter and be aware that the springs can run dry if it hasn't rained in awhile. After 2.5 miles from the parking lot you'll once again reach a fire road. This time continue uphill by crossing the fire road on to the trail directly across. You're still on the Appalachian Trail northbound. You'll follow this next section all the way to McAfee Knob. After 3.8 miles the elevation begins to level out. Keep an eye out on your left for a large open area of ground level rock. You'll see a sign on one of the trees stating "Overlook". Walk just through the woods to the left side of the trail to reach McAfee Knob.

Descend the same way you came up.

Mileage: 7.6 miles round trip

Elevation Gain Going Up: +1,658 feet

Elevation Loss Going Up: -436 feet

McAfee Knob

Tinker Cliffs

Park at Andy Layne Trail Parking Lot (map below)

Begin hiking directly from the trail kiosk next to the parking lot. Much of this trail is on private property so please stick to the trail to allow future hikers continued access. I consider this ascent the most difficult of all three day hikes. If you're not sure about your hiking ability leave the Tinker Cliffs hike for last. Continue on the Andy Layne Trail for 3.1 miles where you'll connect with the Appalachian Trail. Look for the trail signs pointing you to Tinker Cliffs. The cliffs are 0.5 miles away. Unlike McAfee Knob and Dragon's Tooth there are several unique rock cliffs that make up Tinker Cliffs. The Appalachian Trail at times will run directly next to the cliffs so be aware of this in case you are afraid of heights.

Descend the same way you came up.

Mileage: 7.26 miles round trip

Elevation Gain Going Up: +1,951 feet

Elevation Loss Going Up: -491 feet

Tinker Cliffs

Categories: Uncategorized

7 replies »

  1. This is awesome!! Thank you for sharing. Because of FB photos, I know that y’all spent one night at the Johns Spring Shelter. Is there adequate tent camping on all the other 2 trails?

    • Of all the shelters along the Triple Crown the best one for tent camping is Pig Farm camp area which is right next to Campbell Shelter. If you hike in from McAfee Knob parking area this will be past McAfee Knob on the way to Tinker Cliffs. There are decent spots to place a tent at the other shelters as well.

      • Fink Plan on driving the Blue Ridge Parkway next spring. Plan on hiking the Triple Crown Challenge in day hikes. What do you recommend??? Could hike 2 of them one day-if so which ones closest??? Thanks for your info!!!

      • I recommend hiking McAfee Knob Day 1 and to park there as early as you can in the day, like before sunrise. This lot typically fills up quick on weekends and cars are often towed if you’re not in the lot. Once you get back to the car I’d head to Dragon’s Tooth for a same day hike. That will leave you Tinker Cliffs on Day 2. Hope you have a great hike!

  2. I think Tinker Cliffs was my favorite but it was very very muddy when I went due to rain the day before.

Leave a Reply