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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: imref Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 14, 2015
Did the entire loop, starting with the Cedar Run side then coming back the White Oak Canyon side. I'm glad we chose to go up the Cedar Runs side as it's a more gradual climb than if we had gone the other direction. However the White Oak side is much prettier with nicer swimming holes. The hike took us about 8 hours, though we probably could have done it in 7 if we had pushed harder. We only stopped a few times, the biggest negative is that there are so many great places to stop and either just watch the falls or play in the water, but not enough time to stop at everything given the length of the hike. Even if you are just doing the White Oak side I'd recommend starting at the lower lot and going up, then back down, rather than the reverse.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 23, 2015
I'm going out there again tomorrow. I'm a trail-runner and this forms the core of my go-to training run when getting ready for Western 100s with big climbs. I highly recommend climbing Cedar Run to the top of Hawksbill Summit and getting a great view of the eastern Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain. It's nearly a 3K climb, which is hard to come by in the mid-Atlantic. In the summertime, start the ascent from the parking lot at around 4:30 a.m., beating the crowds and the heat and being rewarded by arriving on top at about the same time as sunrise it's about 1:45 from the parking lot. Simply gorgeous! White Oak Canyon is probably the most heavily traveled trail in SNP, so instead of using it and its accursed stairs, I recommend descending from Hawksbill, and taking the bridle trail across the face of the eastern ridge to White Oak Falls for a cooling dip, followed by staying on the bridle trail as it ascends northeast towards Stony Man for about a mile, and then turning right on the Old Rag Fire Road to return that way to the parking lot.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 10, 2015
Like everyone else says, it is a beautiful hike with breathtaking waterfalls. We did Robertson Mountain first and joined White Oak from the top. It was hard on the knees since it is a steep decent and we were already worn out from the first leg of our hike. Not sure if it was the time of the year but the falls and the river seemed to be the local swimming/ hanging out spot for locals. It was pretty crowded. Ran into a group of young men smelling strongly of alcohol, that was pretty disappointing, also the fact that the whole way down all we did was avoid dog poop and pick up trash that people have left behind. I guess LNT is not a common practice at this particular trail. If you haven't gone, you definitely should, maybe try going really early to beat the crowds. As for me, once was enough.

By: Chris, Maddy, & Ajax Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 02, 2015
Hiked the Cedar Run/White Oak Canyon trail yesterday with our dog, we all loved it. Lots of places for our dog to swim and explore. Pretty vigorous and consistent uphill no matter which way you start. But that just makes the second half much easier. We did the cedar run part first. Saw a black snake on the way back down which was cool, he was out basking in the sunlight. There were quite a few other people hiking the trail, and a few large groups. Our dog loved it and did just fine on the trail despite all the rocky parts and water crossings. All the stream crossings have pretty easy ways across, whether rocks or foot bridges, etc. Definitely recommend, especially now that its spring and warmer out. The many waterfalls and cascades were beautiful. No spectacular views really, but the waterfalls and lush landscape made up for it.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 23, 2015
I wanted to see the Trillium in bloom and I wasn't disappointed. Cedar Run is steeper so, like many, I hike this backwards going up Cedar and down White Oak. Steep climb up front, then gentle downhill down the fire road. White Oak is better kept so going down is easier on that trail. With that being said, you can do it either way. Moving relatively fast 4 hour hike Water levels were up so the waterfalls were rolling right now. Nobody here today on a weekday. Parking is usually a problem on busy weekends, so go early or later. If not, you will probably be parked on the road. Enjoy.

    View all 163 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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