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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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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:

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: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, January 17, 2016
Snow!! I think I have previously given this hike four stars, but with today's snow, I'm giving it an extra star. I started this hike from Hawksbill Gap on Skyline Drive shortly before 9. The snow started falling about 15 minutes later and then didn't let up until 1 or 2 pm. By the time I got back to my car, there was about an inch of snow on the ground (and on Skyline Drive) but only a quarter inch or so at the lower end of White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run. The trails were snowy (obviously!) but I didn't encounter any problems with ice. After first hiking several miles on the Appalachian Trail and around Skyland, I took the White Oak Canyon trail down to the White Oak - Cedar Link trail, and then went up the Cedar Run trail back to my car. Despite the cold weather (it didn't get much above the freezing point) and perhaps because of the snow (it was really beautiful), the trail was not empty. I ran into a couple dozen people as I descended White Oak Canyon and then saw many of those people again as I went up the Cedar Run trail. Apparently the Park Service had closed Skyline Drive sometime after I entered the park due to the snow. It was a long, slow, and snowy drive back to the entrance station, where I had to wait a little while for a ranger to come and unlock the gate so I could go home. But, it was totally worth it. Today was a great day in the woods!

By: BrianJB Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Took advantage of all the rain (and a foggy day. . .) to do this hike up White Oak, down Cedar. Falls were fantastic - going on all sides, including several that usually aren't visible. Only caveat - Cedar Run descent is steep, and the combination of wet rocks and muddy boots made for slow going. If I had to do it again in the conditions, would do in reverse. Did per the directions (used the fire road to complete the loop) but would strongly recomend the longer loop (via Limberlost and the AT) if you've got the time.

By: Evan Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Hiked the WOC/Cedar Run circuit today. Followed the directions closely. This was a GREAT hike, but it's not the easiest. We had terrific weather, and the falls were beautiful. There is a great deal of elevation gain on this hike, and descending Cedar Run can be challenging - it's very rocky and steep. If you can handle that, you won't be disappointed by this excellent hike.

By: Becky Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 14, 2015
Not sure how, but we ended up hiking 10.5 miles instead of 8. We parked in the correct lot and followed the trail markers, but we found the markets a bit confusing and not a whole lot of help on the trailhead map or the two maps along the route. Beautiful waterfalls because of the recent rain. The trail got a little treacherous at some points because of trickling water down the mountain and fallen leaves made it slippery. All in all, though, a beautiful area and great, challenging hike.

By: Barb Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 08, 2015
Absolutely beautiful. More water and stronger water falls then I was expecting this time of year. I have hiked the White Oak canyon up and back several times which is by far a favorite but today we continued the loop by crossing over and following the horse trail to Cedar Run down and back to the parking lot. I gave it only a 4 because the hike down Cedar Run was far steeper then we expected and took much of the enjoyment out of the hike. We like a challenge but this was a very rocky straight down hike.

    View all 171 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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