Dragon's Back - TRAIL

Dragon's Back - Trail, Roanoke, Virginia

Park at the grouse trail and start climbing. The beginning is very rocky then it changes into really fun switchbacks. As you get closer to the top, the trail gets rocky again and the switchbacks are nearly impossible to climb. There are also so many leaves in places too that make you slip. It's like every leaf in Virginia blew onto this trail! The grouse trail is about 2.5 miles long. At the top is the ridge trail and there is a sign. You can go left to the turkey trail or right to the deer trail. If you turn left on the ridge trail, it is 3 miles to the turkey trail. This ridge trail is very technical because of all the sharp rocks sticking out in all directions. It's the rockiest trail I've ever seen! You'll see the turkey trail on the right. This is a very nice DH with some impossible switchbacks on the first half of the trail. Then the trail gets straight and fast with some cool obstacles. Back at the fire road, turn left and go about 4.4 miles back to the grouse trail if you parked there. This part is very boring because fire roads suck.

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
Mark   Weekend Warrior [Dec 23, 2013]

This trail has everything a person looking for a challenge has to offer. Big climbs, rocky terrain and technical downhill. My group typically rides local, three days a week and was looking to challenge ourselves. We got what we wanted. Be prepared to push and carry the bike on some of the climbs and switchbacks, but most are ridable on the way back down. Beautiful mountain top ride with freshly marked trails. Would recommend for intermediate and above riders. Bring lots of water and fuel/food regardless of the routes you choose. We rode from Dragon's Back trail up North Mountain, down Deer Trail, across Wildlife Road, up Grouse Trail and back to the parking lot.

Similar Products Used: Carvin's Cove, Douthat State Park, Brush Mountain (Pandapas Pond)
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Russell Bailey   Cross Country Rider [Dec 01, 2013]

Rode 11/30/2013. This is a great ridge trail - one of my favorites. With few exceptions the trail is nearly all ridable by mortals, with a lot of narrow rocky parts as described in other posts. After trying the other ways up, I prefer the climb from 311/Dragon's Tooth.

Customer Service

Parked by Roanoke Cement, road paved Little Cahawba Creek Road and Cahawba Creek Road to VA 311, then right a mile or so to the North Mountain trailhead across from the Dragon's Tooth trailhead. This is a great ride up the mountain, all ridable by mortals and the trail is in great condition. We then rode North Mountain all the way until it hits Wildlife Road - the full ridge. Once past Cahawba trail (which is a couple of miles past the last of the three trails that drop to Wildlife Road), the trail gets less used and more rugged. After the powerlines there is one insane hillclimb that would be impressive to see someone climb, then more nice trail to a great descent to Wildlife Road. At Wildlife Road you turn right and coast nearly all the way back to the car. 29 miles with about 5600 feet of cumulative elevation gain.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
ROAD WARRIOR   Cross Country Rider [May 02, 2011]

Trail is open, clear, well signed, and blazed with maps at all TH's. Dragons Back is part of the 28 mile North Mountain Trail System. All the trails are signed as more, or most difficult. Great trail for strong and advanced level riders. Trails up the mtn are steep but rideable, except for some of the switchbacks. Top of the mtn is classic Va. mtn top riding, rock mixed with sweet singletrack. Tread width ranges from 18" to none.
Probably the best TH is Dragons Tooths, which is on Rt 311 before the forest rd. Got family that doesn't ride? Send them hiking to Dragons Tooth while you go ride the back.
Group I rode with had everything from SS Ridged to Full Sup. We all had a blast.

Customer Service

Out and back, loop, figure 8. Lots of options using the forest road.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
derrick nehrenberg   Cross Country Rider [Nov 02, 2008]

Trail is in good shape, save for leafy nature, which is natural the first week of november. No down trees to speak of as of 110208.

The 3 trail heads - turkey, grouse, and deer, are directly across boulder lined parking lots, which is helpful beta if you are looking for these trails for the first time. Riding up Turkey is aerobically challenging, but doable. Riding up Grouse is much more mellow. Down Deer was the most fun for me. We drove from chapel hill, NC to ride...it's worth it. 4 stars is a high rating.

Home Place Restaurant had a 80 minute wait at 4:30 on sunday afternoon. There were 100 -150 people waiting!! Went to Texas Tavern on Church St. in downtown Roanoke instead. Ate 3 cheeseburgers with and 1 hot dog with. If you haven't eaten there, you should. It is open 24/7.


Customer Service

Ride up 2 of the 3 climbs.

Similar Products Used: douthat
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
doubleB   Cross Country Rider [Feb 03, 2008]

This is classic back country hammer. Bring plenty of water, food, tubes and a first aid kit. Not for the feint of heart, these trails will challenge your rock garden skills and give you as a stout a single track climb as you can find anywhere in this part of the country. Probably should bring a friend too so the authorities will know where to find the body.
Seriously one of the region's best rides. Just come prepared.

Customer Service

The Dragon's Back race course is always a favorite, but if you come with a local you'll discover some other, lesser know gems.

Similar Products Used: Mountain Lake Conservancy Trail System ...
www.MtnLakeConservancy.org
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
marco   Cross Country Rider [Nov 29, 2007]

steep, rocky, switchbacky, screamin downhills with switchbacks.

Customer Service

We park at dragons tooth parking lot. take north 311 to theleft on wild life road. There is some fire road but it is fast and rolling. We usually climb in on grouse. 2.5 miles of up. Then head west and follow the ridge out to the old AT it drops you back out to the parking lot at dragons tooth. Tough but fun, about 12 miles. This route backwards is also fun.

Similar Products Used: Carvins Cove, Pandappas Trail system
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
briangelc   Cross Country Rider [Sep 04, 2005]

I rode this trail several times in 2001, and did not get to return until september 2005. Lots of Changes! Most changes make this trail a lot more technical tan it was 3-4 years ago. This wiill list the problems with the trail, but overall it is a fun, challenging bike-and-hike. First, the previous reviews are now outdated. The trail's condition has deteriorated a lot. The climb on the Grouse trail has much more exposed stones. Downed trees are common, and erosion has revealed more roots and scree on the off-camber parts. Strangely, most trees have fallen within 100 feet of switchbacks, and the rockiest switchback has a big old-growth tree right across it. You will be carrying your bike through these sections. Parts of the ridge trail are impassable during the summer. The downed tress are allowing lots of...weeds...to grow across the trail. Most of the weeds have thorns, the rest look like poison ivey. You will have to dismount and hike around some of these briar patches. The new routes are somewhat noticeable, but not yet well worn. I did not spot any dragons along the way. The descent on Turkey Trail was great, but had to stop to climb over the occasional tree. Summary: you are gonna walk a while. Wear brush protection in the summer, and you gotta love disc brakes

Customer Service

from FSR224, go up the Grouse , tun left at the ridge, and descend the Turkey Trail. Best ridden when the leaves ore off the trees = better views, less briar patches.

Similar Products Used: Pandappas Pond, Blacksburg
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Victor Vector   Cross Country Rider [Nov 01, 2003]

I love this trail. I am from central PA so the rock thing is kind of what I am used to. I rode up grouse trail which was a great way to get up. Then I turned right to deer, then decided to turn around and ride out to the end of the mountain - 10 miles or so. It took almost 4 hours, including a lunch break, to ride the entire ridgeline, but it was great fun. Slow and steady, the whole time. No screaming descents, no gnarly ins and outs...just a rolling ridgetop that requires some work and effort to travel. But it's 99% ridable. And it really does look like a dragon's back. bonus. I came back on the fire road (SR ??? and then left onto a very rolling wilderness road). The return trip on gravel roads takes about an hour and is very pretty / relaxing. I would probably not do this ride alone, so take a bud. Definitely take a decent lunch too...whoever said not to take stupid gels above was right...take a few sandwiches or something substantial. You'll have many places to pause for a break and enjoy the vistas. The vista at the powerlines is spectacular. I took 60 oz with me and I ran out - I recommend 100, if you can carry it. Or take a purifier...a few springs along the way. This will probably take you all afternoon if you leave around lunch time. I highly recommend the all you can eat dinner at The Home Place in catawba on the way out...wow, coolest restaurant ever conjured, and I mean that. Stop and see for yourself. I ate sooooo much...

Customer Service

Park anywhere between route 311 and grouse trail on the wilderness road. Ascend either deer or grouse. Turn north on the ridge trail. Pedal and steer for a long time. Descend to SR XXX and turn left. 4 miles later, turn left onto wilderness road (unmarked - first substantial gravel road you'll see on your left).

Similar Products Used: douthat, harrisonburg, carvin's cove, pandapas pond, arcadia area...etc...
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
Swampy   [Oct 20, 2000]

Hard steady climb up North Mountain ridge. Some technical stuff, lots of leaves. In the winter, the snow lasts a lot longer up there, too. The top of the ridge doesn't really have a trail, but you can't get lost, just don't miss your turn off. Nice views on top. The Wildlife Road itself makes for a nice ride, too, though it's not technical. If you don't want to work too hard just stay on it for nine or ten miles. Overall, the turkey/grouse is not my favorite ride, but I do it every now and then for a little variety.

Customer Service

Take hwy 311 north just over the Craig county line (you'll never figure it out if you follow the other reviewer's hwy directions), turn right at Wildlife Road, go a couple of miles to Turkey or Grouse Trails.

Similar Products Used: Explore Park, Carvin's Cove
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
Matt Monticelli   [Dec 16, 2000]

I have raced on this trail 3-4 times. It is simply a ball buster! I have never finished without leg cramps. It is tought to say the least.

The race starts out on the fire road and goes about 2 miles until you make a sharp left turn and begin the hill climb. This is a good tough hill climb and can be done with maybe one or two dismounts.

Once on top you brake right and go about two miles. This trail is not used too often and it is hard to track. It will test you a little bit but does not last too long.

You then commence a downhill that is not too memorable and come back out onto the fire road and then turn left onto the "ring of fire." This is very fast going down and is about two miles. It is a blast. The hill climb out will slow you down, though.

You then come back out and go left and ride about 2 miles on the fire road again. Yes, again. Then you go right and do the initial climb again. yes, again. Once on top you go left and you start about a 4 mile cross country. This is where "Dragon's Back" gets its name. This is also where you start to break down. Up and down over plates of slate. It gets narrow in some places. Not too steep but it is technical with some dismounts for people like me (middle of the pack sport).

When you are done with the cross country you start a switch back filled downhill that requires dismounts unless you have Hans Rey blood. It can get fast with blind switch backs so watch out.

Once on the bottom you take a single track trail for about a mile and then come back in on the fire road. This is a vey boring 2 mile ride.

All and all it is VERY tough. Do not leave home without water! I rode this once in the winter and got lost. It is never seems to be well worn in. That is most likely because it is tough and most people are afraid!

Customer Service

Race course ridden...

Similar Products Used: Pottts Mtn.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 12  

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