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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: 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.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 12, 2015
Started out from the parking area at 10:45am and finished at 3:15pm. We followed the prescribed route from Hiking Upward but I would also recommend doing this hike clockwise. The Cedar Run trail section can be very steep in parts and I personally prefer doing steeper sections going up instead of down.

The waterfalls were beautiful with all the rain we received during the week. Probably encountered 30 people on the trail but we were alone for most of the hike itself. I would recommend bug spray because the gnats were out in full force and stopping for more than 5 minutes anywhere along the trail would guarantee you a face full of them.

By: FatHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 04, 2015
This was my second time on this hike, and the spring weather had the water flowing well. Even with all the water, it was easy to stay dry on the water crossings. If you're not in a rush, plan plenty of time for the views. The vegetation hadn't sprouted, and we were rewarded with spectacular views up and down both canyons. All-in-all a fantastic day hike for all who enjoy flowing water!

Lastly, I highly recommend starting your hike upward on Cedar Run (backwards to the trail map). The elevation changes are not as drastic, which makes for an easier uphill run. Some of the sections of White Oak can be quite steep for us less agile hikers. Cedar Run also seems to be less crowded. So you don't spend as much time waiting for others (or passing others).

By: hikeforadventure Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 29, 2015
We loved this hike and agree with the other review comparing its difficulty to Old Rag. While it was not quite the rock climb Old Rag is there are several river crossings and icy sections of Cedar Run that had us checking our balance. We would not recommend coming down the Cedar Run side if it has recently rained or snowed, and friends don't let friends wear worn down old sneakers. Hiking shoes with traction are a must!

We went up the White Oak side, crossed over on the fire road (which coming in this direction be forewarned the fire road section is all uphill) and took Cedar Run down. It took us a total of 7 hours (this includes the time we took to stop and eat lunch/enjoy the views).

By: novarider Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 19, 2015
First time doing the cedar run section of white oaks canyon. Great hike for a serious workout. The view this time of year is fantastic allowing you to see Old Rag mountain in the distance. This hike is nearly comparable in my opinion to Old Rag in difficulty depending on the elements. This time around the trail had several iced over sections making it tricky to navigate without sliding off a cliff. The cedar run half of the trail is especially rugged making navigating with a heavy pack all the more difficult (I strongly suggest trekking poles). Camping is minimal and fires are mostly forbidden. Great way to spend a fee free Monday on the trail.

    View all 159 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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