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White Oak Canyon / Cedar Run - SNP, Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
7.9 mls
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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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From:

e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
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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Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the White Oak/Cedar Run hike:

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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: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 08, 2014
First time hiking since January! Started up Cedar Run at 6:50am. Very chilly but sunny about 1/4 way up. Ran down the forest road, mostly walked down White Oak Canyon. No animals except a few squirrels and birds. Water levels moderately low. Thanks to Martha's Elves for the new big stepping stones across the first, lower crossing (going up CR). Met tons of hikers coming up WOC. Warning: One of the big stepping stones on the WOC river to the cut-across connector trail SHIFTED so much, a dry crossing will be almost impossible. Total loop time: 3 hours (not exactly a record!)

By: Lecia J Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 18, 2014
Awesome Hike! Beautiful views and the leaves are looking fabulous.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Two reviews in a row...cool. Wet day on this circuit today we got nailed by wind and rain along the fire road and horse trail, and then again about midway down the Cedar Run trail. None of that matters. The waterfalls are powerful with all of the rain this week and the leaves are turning yellow and red around mid-mountain. Even with the weather this hike was stunning today and should be for the next few days at least. We used the bridge to cross White Oak because the water was too high to use the rocks. And the first crossing of Cedar Run was a little wet towards the far bank as we ran out of rocks to step across (poles recommended). The trail was wet and the leaves made it slippery in places but overall the trail is in good condition even after all this rain.

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I hiked this on a beautiful Wednesday after some good rain the week before. This time I did the circuit clockwise (last time I did it as described) and I'm glad I did. I wasn't overly impressed with Cedar Run the first time, but walking up with the run in view helped me not miss falls and views that I missed last time. The water was really running and made for some impressive falls. The walk up Cedar Run is difficult and very steep in places, but stopping to take pictures gives plenty of excuses to take a break. During the walk down White Oak Canyon I watched one guy rappel down through the waterfall after the main falls, and I watched two guys free climb down the left side of the Lower White Oak Canyon falls. This is turning into one of my favorite hikes.

By: LIsa D Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 09, 2014
My husband, 2 friends, and I set out to hike this circuit hike this morning. Weather was spot on. We decided to do it clockwise, doing the cedar run side first, and I'm glad that we did. It was INTENSE getting up there, but then we were downhill longer than we were uphill. The hike took us (newbies!) 7 hours (that includes lots of pausing for food and to climb on rocks, sit by the water, soak our feet, etc.).

This hike is not easy, but we did it, and we never hike, so I definitely recommend it. Absolutely gorgeous scenery


    View all 151 reviews for the White Oak/Cedar Run hike
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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