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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.
38.53860, -78.34736

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: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 01, 2014
A great start to the new year! 7:45 a.m. up Cedar Run, ran down the forest road, ran down White Oak Canyon. No snow or ice anywhere, other than a few icicles near water's edge (no climbing ice at all). No animals seen except a few squirrels and birds. Lots of water flowing everywhere. The (going up CR) second crossing was a challenge though the newly fallen oak tree really helped. Park Service really ought to make some stepping stones. One green dome tent on the FR near Skyline Drive, and lower down on WOC numerous hikers coming up. Total loop time: 2 hours 45 mins.

By: Ellen & Tim Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 30, 2013
Tried to do Cedar Run up/WOC down on Friday Nov. 29. The water at the first water crossing was way too high. The first two stones were all but covered with fast-flowing water, making the distance too far for even the long-legged member of the team. Considering that this crossing is right at the edge of the falls, jumping that far - even if possible - was just too risky. We turned back and soon thereafter, met three volunteer trail workers who had a saw and an axe and they were going to put a downed tree over the gap. We had a time crunch and couldn't wait. We went back on Sat. Nov. 30 and indeed, they had put a log over the gap but of course it was completely encased in ice. We managed to get across anyway but it was slow-going to say the least. The rest of the hike up had quite a bit of ice so footing was tricky.

We handled the second water crossing by putting on our neos and wading across the shallow area. We met one person who had taken off his shoes and socks and waded across. There really wasn't any choice as no rocks had any exposed surface.

From Skyline Drive to Hawksbill Summit was mostly snow, some bare gravel, but a couple of wicked ice patches. The horse trail and fire road were fine. It was necessary to use the small bridge just upstream from the usual water crossing. We hadn't even known that bridge was there! Thanks to the folks who clued us in. WOC going down had quite a bit of ice and mud. The lower water crossing which is usually a piece of cake was also tricky. All this turned a five-hour hike into a six-hour hike.


By: LarryP Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 25, 2013
We got a late start (about 1:00) and went up White Oak Canyon & down Cedar Run. Two sets of hikers coming up Cedar Run warned us about the blowdown at the water crossing, but they all said it was passable. We found it a bit of a challenge, but you can hang on to branches and step on the still accessible stones to get across. It slowed us down a bit, and we got back to the parking lot after it got fairly dark (about 6:15). It is still a great hike, but allow extra time on the Cedar Run side.

By: Fred Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 21, 2013
Hiked the Cedar Run/White Oak Canyon. I decided to start up Cedar Run, hit the yellow blaze fire road (nice rest on the legs) and down White Oak. About 3/4 up Cedar Run a very large tree (80 feet) blew down and took with it a couple smaller ones. This happened about a 50 yards from where I just passed. A couple others that I passed on White Oak said that part of Cedar Run is now blocked, part of the trail wrecked and the marker buried. I noted many, many similiar possible blow downs that could happen in windy conditions...be aware. Met the Park Ranger on the fire road crossing and he was very informative and nice. The trip down White Oak was very good with only one area blocked by deadfall. There were only about 20 or so hikers that we met. Plenty of water for the falls on both trails. Note: There is a trail to the left of the ranger station...leads up to private property and a cable will block the way so you must start up the White Oak Canyon trail and look for the cement marker to get on track. I would recommend that the "less than fit" hikers take White Oak first if you are doing the loop. Cedar Run is a tough one to start if you are not in good condition. Beautiful hike and day to match.

By: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 20, 2013
I've previously done parts of this trail with my 11 and 13 year old daughters as an out-and-back (lower parking lot to Upper White Oak Falls and back) and have really enjoyed it. Today I was with a friend from work and we did the entire loop and then some. The parking lot had only a few cars when we pulled in at 8:30, just behind a ranger who was running the fee station. We hiked up White Oak Canyon, stopping at both the lower and upper falls for extended breaks. The falls are running well definitely more water than there was during the summer. After taking the White Oak Canyon fire road over the ridge, we decided to hike up Hawksbill Mountain, which added another 0.8 miles of distance and 700 ft of elevation change (each way) to the trip. Apparently whomever made the trail up Hawksbill Mt. had never heard of switchbacks - the trail goes steeply up the side of the mountain. The view from the top was pretty spectacular, presenting a nice panorama of fall colors. After lunch on top of Hawksbill, we retraced our steps to Skyline Drive and then took the Cedar Run Trail back to the car. I think that doing the loop in the opposite direction mentioned on Hiking Upward (that is, hike up Cedar Run and down White Oak) would be even more challenging since the Cedar Run Trail is a bit steeper than the trail up White Oak Canyon. The disadvantage to doing the loop in that direction may be that you run into tons of people when you come down the White Oak Canyon. When we got back to our car 5 hr 15 min after leaving, the lot was packed...and we ran into very few of those people on the Cedar Run Trail. Overall, it was a great day of hiking on a scenic, moderately challenging trail. If you have the time (and legs for it), I definitely recommend the side trip up Hawksbill Mountain. Then, the hike has everything: streams, waterfalls, and great views!

    View all 138 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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