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White Oak Canyon / Cedar Run - SNP, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
7.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,450 ft
N38 32.356 W78 20.961
Shenandoah National Park
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Park at the 20 car White Oak Trail parking area on Weakley Hollow Rd.
38.53927, -78.34935

This hike has some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Shenandoah National Park. Combining two out-and-back hikes, White Oak Canyon & Cedar Run, this loop starts at the bottom of the valley and cuts over near the top of the ridge. With five major falls, numerous smaller cascades and pools, this circuit hike is one of the best.

Begin up the blue blazed White Oak Canyon (WOC) Trail, at the top of the upper parking area next to the SNP ranger station. Shortly cross a steel footbridge, then arrive at the intersection of the Cedar Run Trail that will be your return route. Stay straight on the WOC Trail as it winds to the right, then crosses another steel footbridge over WOC Run.

Follow the blue blazed trail on the right side of WOC Run reaching the WOC/Cedar Run Connector Trail in 0.6 miles. Stay straight on the right side of WOC Run for another 0.7 miles, cross a small stream, then arrive the base of the first set of major falls.

The trail will now make several switchbacks as the grade gets steeper, then reaches the second set of falls in 0.6 miles. Again, the trail will switchback several times, then become less steep, and arrive at a concrete marker for the base of the main WOC falls. To see the falls from the base, follow the side trail straight for 100 yards. Continue uphill on the WOC Trail as it steeply climbs the last 0.1 miles to the main WOC falls overlook.

Continuing uphill from the main overlook, and shortly arrive at the yellow blazed Bridge Path Trail that comes in from the right. Stay straight, then cross WOC Run in another 40 yards at the horse rail. If WOC Run is high, continue up the right side of WOC Run and cross a footbridge in 120 yards.

After crossing the run follow the wide yellow blazed WOC Fire Road/Horse Trail. In 1.6 miles the WOC Fire Road/Horse Trail will veer right. Stay left on the narrower yellow blazed trail, marked on a concrete post as "Horse Tr To Big Meadows". In 0.6 miles the horse trail intersects the blue blazed Cedar Run Trail.

Turn left downhill on the blue blazed Cedar Run Trail, then in 1.3 miles cross Cedar Run. In 0.2 miles after crossing Cedar Run reach the top set of main falls at Halfmile Cliff known as "The Slide". 60 yards below the main falls is a pool where Cedar Run passes through a narrow gorge.

Continue downward on the Cedar Run Trail for 0.5 miles where the blue blazed trail makes a sharp left to cross Cedar Run for the last time. After crossing Cedar Run follow the trail for 0.3 miles to the intersection of the WOC/Cedar Run Connector Trail. Turn right downhill on the Cedar Run Trail towards RT600, and in 0.4 miles arrive back at the WOC Trail intersection. Turn right, re-cross the steal footbridge, and arrive back at the parking area.
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Hiker Reviews For The White Oak/Cedar Run Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the White Oak/Cedar Run hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: 20ThruHiker12 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 13, 2016
We arrived before sunrise to try to beat the heat and the crowds. Saw a couple of bear, which was awesome. The hike itself and the waterfalls were nice but extremely disappointed in the lack of respect from other hikers. LITTER EVERYWHERE! We couldn't believe how much trash was left near the swimming holes and on the trail itself. Clearly the people frequenting this spot haven't heard the term 'leave no trace behind.' Sad to see that hiking has become the 'trendy' thing to do and people with no trail etiquette have taken over. I guess they assume that the rangers will clean up after them since they are being charged to park. Will probably not do this hike again any time soon.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Started at noon, with leisurely breaks we finished this hike as described at 6pm. It was very humid and hot, but we just dipped into one of the several swimming holes along the trail to cool off. The trail was mostly simple to follow, only a few turns that were well marked. I read that a lot of people like to hike the loop with cedar run first. While I guess it could be easier I don't really think that going up those step rocky parts is easy and going down hill on WOC would be strenuous also. The main benefit would be the fireroad, but let me say: at the point we got to the fire road it was hot and we were tried. We still walked the whole thing in less than 45 minutes, it's not that bad. We also some saw activity up on skyline drive and then realized a ranger was shoo-ing a bear off the drive. We stayed back and luckily the trail spilt off in to a separate ridge so I don't think we were followed by a bear! So my only question is: do people actually slide down that rockslide? It looks fun but the safety patrol in me thinks that it's dangerous. Overall I would say all the ratings are accurate and be sure to bring plenty of water or a good water filter to refuel.

By: Pauline Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 01, 2016
Spectacular hike, and going a day earlier than a busy July 4th weekend guaranteed few people on the trail. The way up is spectacular. The way down is rough going. Each step going down the rocky path alongside Cedar Run was difficult. I thought I was in shape with my daily one-hour walk, but I was woefully unprepared for this. Ice on the knees at night helped. The natural Slide is delightful.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Great hike! I went with my two adult daughters. We did the hike as written and suggested. I would say, much tougher than I expected and usually have no trouble with a 8-10 mike hike. The hike up to the Upper Falls is a series of switch backs so we expected (maybe hoped) for some relief on the fire road across or down the other side. Fire road was one complete incline for the 2.2 miles. Traversing down the other side was tricky and my girls and I had legs of jello at the end. That being said, the waterfalls were amazing. More dramatic on the way up but equally beautiful Not crowded being a Wednesday but traffic starting to pick up.

By: Alex D Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 18, 2016
Perfect weather for a fantastic hike! Started at sunrise and took others' advice to start with Cedar Run. First one in the parking lot and never saw anyone until reaching Skyline Dr. When you start to hear cars on Skyline and no longer hear rushing water, you know you're near the top. I decided to add Hawksbill Summit (highest spot in Shenandoah), 2 miles out and back. Tough incline, but well worth it for the view. Jogged down the fire road, where it smelled like fresh mountain air, almost like Irish Spring. Whiteoak Canyon trail was full of spectacular sights and sounds of rushing water. Sat next to a fall and enjoyed the peaceful tranquility. This is a special place! "Come to the Woods, for here is rest" - John Muir.

    View all 186 reviews for the White Oak/Cedar Run hike
Early November
Courtesy Jennifer Carr Photography        
Late September

Waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls! This has to be the most spectacular waterfall hike in Shenandoah National Park. With three sets of falls on the way up White Oak Canyon and three smaller falls heading down Cedar Run, this circuit is among the mid-Atlantic's most popular. Lots of company on the trail.

Usually, the ideal time for this hike is in early spring, but with the rain we've had in the last month, all the falls were near their best. The wildlife was also out; we came across several black snakes, this guy (vid) was a local celebrity with hikers on Saturday, and we also saw a juvenile black bear on the trail.

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