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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: Suzanne Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 15, 2017
Got a late start, arriving just before 2 pm, so unfortunately could not make the entire loop because of darkness. Did get to top of the 3rd fall, and then decided to turn around. Beautiful hike! Air was crisp, the sound of the falls were magnificent, and the falls themselves are beautiful! It is very steep in places, and going down isn't much easier as the trail is extremely rocky. Path was muddy and a little slippery in places, but overall very well marked (at least to the top of the 3rd fall). Have to really pay attention to where you walking.  Loved this hike, and will be back next time somewhat earlier so I can make the entire loop.

By: Jessica G Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 31, 2016
A perfect way to end the year! We got very lucky with the weather, started out at almost 40 degrees at 10:30 am, and got a bit warmer as the hike went on. We did the counterclockwise route, and I can see why the clockwise route may be a bit better. Will probably do that next time. I can also see how any ice on the rocks would make the Cedar Run portion unpleasant. The weather had been warm the week prior to our hike, and there was no ice when we hiked.

One quick comment about the time of this hike. My husband and I are in pretty good shape, but by no means avid hikers. We were walking briskly because of the cool weather, but by no means jogging at any point, and completed the loop in just under 4 hours, including two quick stops for a snack. I would definitely rate this hike as easier than Old Rag in terms of duration and overall energy needed to complete it.

By: Shawn R. Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 22, 2016
This was a fantastic hike, but you need to be in good shape! We went on a Thursday in December so solitude was not an issue, as we only encountered one person on the loop hike. We did, however, run into a few more folks when we took the out-and-back up to Hawksbill Mountain (which is well worth it). In total, we finished the approximately 10-mile hike in just over 5 hours, but we walked quickly with relatively few breaks due to worries of an early sunset. Additionally, this 5 hour total includes a period of time of around 15 minutes in which we had no idea where we were going. When the blue-blazed White Oak Canyon Trail is supposed to meet up with the yellow-blazed WOC Fire Road/Horse Trail, there is a great deal of confusion. The trail seems to end around the base of the large waterfall, so you must walk up along the right side of the waterfall until you reach a clearly defined trail above the waterfall. Aside from this one confusion, the trails were marked often and they were easy to follow.

I believe a 5 is probably a better rating for the difficultly, especially if you throw in Hawksbill Mountain. With Hawksbill Mountain, though, I think the views should jump from 1 star to a 3 or even 4 star rating. Also, I recognize that this hike is typically pretty busy, but for us solitude deserved at least 4 stars. I highly recommend this hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 17, 2016
The day I hiked White Oak/Cedar Run it was very cold (30 deg) at the start of the morning, and the temp increase to 45 degrees by about noon. The cold temperatures made the water crossings at the top of the falls, and along Cedar Run a lot more difficult to safely navigate. Additionally, Cedar Run was on the shaded side of the mountain and the trail didn't thaw completely and this also increased the difficulty of the trail. Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed White Oak Canyon and seeing the beautiful falls. The horse trail over to Cedar Run was fairly casual but not quite so scenic (the break after climbing the falls was kind of nice). While on Cedar Run, the first half was downhill and the difficulty was because all of the loose rocks covered by the leaves. The second half of Cedar Run made me uncomfortable because of the ice and the fact that the trail is so close to the edge, above the river.

Overall, this trail was nice with some great views, but do be careful not to out hike yourself. Personally, I would suggest to other hikers to make sure the weather is nicer to take on Cedar Run since it is so challenging.

By: Hans und Heidi Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 10, 2016
We hiked this circuit three years ago and included Hawksbill Mountain. Then it took 9 hours in the summer. This time the trail had some ice going up Cedar Creek , and backtracking a steep mile for lost sunglasses put us behind schedule. We did not include the mountain, and walked out after 8hours in pitch dark with head torches getting to the car at 6. Good training for Patagonia next week!

Overall one of our favorite circuits. For a cold Saturday, there were 20 cars there by 10am with everyone going to White Oak. We encountered few people all day and all were coming down from Skyline Dr.

The Cedar Run trail is more rugged and steeper the White Oak. More ice on the trail with springs flowing out to make slicks on the trail. This condition is just getting started.

    View all 197 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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