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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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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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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: Daniel Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 17, 2018
Enjoyed this hike thoroughly. We started the hike before 9am on a Sunday and the trail wasnít crowded to start, just a few other hiking pairs. By the time we left around 3 it was quite busy and the ranger said 600 people were there the day before. So if youíre looking for solitude, go early on a less busy day. The streams and waterfalls are the highlights of the hike, and you can get in some of them if you donít mind the chilly water. It is a great summer hike with the streams keeping the air cool and there to dip your feet in. We saw a mother bear and two cubs on the other side of the stream, which was great. Also, right as we were ending the loop we encountered a rattlesnake, so be aware of the wildlife! Other cool wildlife we saw was an owl and a huge raven. The hike is appropriately rated 4 stars for difficulty. The uphill section up White Oak Canyon is not particularly steep and the terrain is not challenging but it does take quite a while so it can wear you out. The Cedar Run stretch of the loop is more steep and has more difficult terrain, so itís easiest to do this downhill.

By: Erik Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 29, 2018
This was my wife & I's 1st hike ever. We decided prior to visiting Shenandoah that we wanted to see waterfalls on our hike so we chose the White Oak/Cedar Run loop despite people telling us this definitely isn't a trail for 1st time hikers due to the length and strenuousness of this hike. Well, I'm SO glad we did choose this one, as the scenery is unbeatable. This was, without a doubt, the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The falls were running great. We started at the top of Cedar Run and hiked counter clockwise. This definitely was a tough hike. Twice we had to take our shoes off and wade ice cold water on the Cedar Run side to cross the stream. And going back up White Oak Canyon certainly got our legs burning due to the quick pace we kept halfway up, excited to see the falls. Then came fire road horse trail. 2 miles or so of uphill, not much to see walking that with aching legs and feet seemed to go on forever. When we finished, I felt a sense of achievement that we had tackled a more difficult trail on our first attempt. And overall, the toughness of the hike was more than worth the payoff of the scenery that this trail provided. Took us 7 hours and 15 minutes to complete the hike but we stopped to take lots of pictures, rest and ate lunch by the falls. Would definitely recommend this hike to anyone who wants to see beautiful waterfalls. We will certainly be doing this hike again with friends in the future. Also, if you pay close attention to the concrete posts marking the path and the colored blazes along the way, navigating these trails is fairly easy.

By: Kevin Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Loved this hike. Wife and I hadn't really prepared for as difficult as it would be (we're from a flat part of the country where it's cold, so...oops), but we seemed to do OK. It took us about 5.5 hours and our two trackers measured us at 8.5 and 10.1 miles (makes you wonder how they're so different), so I suspect it's a little longer than the 7.9 advertised. We went up the Whiteoak Canyon side first, which was lovely. The fire road section is comparatively uninteresting, but I imagine it would be a lot more pleasant if things were green, as spring was just starting to spring this week and the trees were all still bare. We also got some rain while on the fire road, which was probably a factor.

Stream crossings were easy enough, although a stick for balance may help on a couple of them. I would love to come back here in the summer and dive into a few of the pools - particularly one on the Cedar Run side which would have just been way too cold for the first week of April.

Overall though, it was challenging, very very pretty, and while it seemed crowded at the bottom, we only really saw people at lookout points. I think a lot of older people go from the bottom to the first set of falls on the Whiteoak Canyon side and then turn around (probably 2-3 miles round trip, and would be before the more substantial elevation gain).


By: heather Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 29, 2018
Hiked this yesterday on the very warm random day. Creeks were high, but not uncrossable. I was glad to have my trekking poles for extra balance on creek crossings and some very muddy trails. The fallen trees were all cleared on the white oak side, but many big trees were still down on the cedar run side. Nothing too bad but it slowed us down a bit. All the mud and water were worth it, the falls were flowing awesomely!

I often write reviews on this site because I check it before my hikes for some recent updates. The GPS on my phone said we did 8.6 which is a fair bit more than the description and it took us 6 hours due to slow declines on cedar run. Difficultly is accrue.

We didnít encounter too many groups until closer to the falls on WOC but we did see a hiker who was limping and using a stick as crutch. They didnít indicate needing help, I assumed they would have asked to use our phone or about the trail or something. A bit later a big group stopped my husband and I and asked if we saw someone who had twisted their ankle. We tried to describe where on the trail we saw them and they said they had called the park to let them know about the injury. Just a friendly reminder for new hikers: learn some basic first aid and have some first aid equipment ready. Also make an emergency plan with your hiking group. I hope the hiker with the twisted ankle made it out okay.


By: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 18, 2018
A beautiful sunny morning! Started hiking at 8 am at 29F up Cedar Run, then ran down the Fire Road to WOC, then back to the Weakly Hollow parking lot, at nearly 50F. Time about 3 hrs 10 mins. Still many trees down but many now cut and not much difficulty. Steams had average flow, no trouble crossing. Only animals seen were a few squirrels and birds. It was such a beautiful morning I was surprised no one else was out -- until I was coming down WOC and then there were lots of people heading up WOC.

    View all 222 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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