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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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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: John Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, August 04, 2017 Just got back from this loop hike, all 8.2 miles this past saturday. The weather was great and the falls were in good form. The parking lot was full and backed out to several private lots. Overall a beautiful trail with some spectacular waterfalls.

By: tag Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 01, 2017
We hiked the entire 8.3 mile loop. The best parts of the trail are within about 1.5 miles of the parking area on either the Cedar Run or White Oak Canyon so if you're not looking for a long strenuous day hike, I'd recommend planning ahead to hit these highlights (starting from the parking are on weakley hollow road). I also recommend starting at the bottom as there is quite a lot of challenging elevation to accomplish in order to reach skyline drive.

The first swimming hole on WOC was really big and beautiful. We planned our swim at the end so we powered through, enjoyed the views along the way (at least one good overlook and lots of beautiful water). There were several places we could have jumped in. Because the water was low, we crossed WOC run before the bridge and followed the horse trail / fire road. We had no trouble determining this was the right way as there was a horse tie at the crossing and yellow blazes on the other side of the water. At the next intersection, it's important to keep left on the horse trail and not continue on the fire road. The most confusing sign was at the intersection of the horse trail and Cedar run. The post seemed to be in the wrong place and didn't differentiate arrows between pointing us back the way we came, or the hairpin turn down Cedar Run. However, I believe there was a sign clearly indicating horses allowed on one fork and not the other. We came upon a confused gentleman at this intersection just starting his hike who couldn't decide which to take!

Cedar Run was steeply downhill but very pleasant and much more private. I could see it being super slippery after rain but our weather was perfect. We stopped at the rock slide and had a blast! We were a little nervous that it might hurt or rip up our pants but neither was the case. The water was SO COLD but super refreshing after hiking nearly 7 miles at this point.

At the WOC connector trail, don't forget to keep right to continue to the parking lot. We referred to our directions printed from this page at every intersection to be sure and made it back just fine.

I can't give this 5 stars on the full 8.3 miles for 2 reasons: 1, the fire road... they're just never awesome but this one wasn't awful. 2, the crowds on the WOC portion of the trail. Note, there is a full ranger station at the parking lot to take your fee. They can run credit cards and sell annual passes as well.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 17, 2017
My hiking group, #herhikecollective hiked the first part of the trail. The White Oak trail, about 2.5 miles in and back out. I realize now that we didn't make it to the overlook and top of the waterfall outlook. Luckily I am going back this weekend with some other friends to do the entire 8 mile loop! I am looking forward to the water slide and the other swimming holes along the hike! In june it was pretty humid and cooling off in the water made it all worth it.

The waterfall actually seems a lot bigger in person than it does in some of these photos on this page which I was happily surprised by that. The first park of the trail is pretty easy and not strenuous. My 56 year old mother did it with us and it was a breeze for her.

The directions and what to expect in the description above is pretty accurate. Although I did not realize that you had to pay to park until we were there. Bring bug spray and try to get there earlier rather than later, as the parking lot was filling up when we arrived at 10am. We had another group meeting us there to hike together and it turned out that they went to the skyline drive trail head and hiked a completely different route than us, so make sure you coordinate well if you are doing carpools. Can't wait to go back this weekend! You can see my blog post about our hiking experience and photos here:

By: Elliot G. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 27, 2017
Started this trip 5/27/17 with 3 friends by heading up the Cedar Run trail from the parking area. While the hike was uphill for a long distance, the ability to stop and rest at the many views of the river as well as jump in (if you're ok with a bit of cold water) makes it very nice. We ended up hiking across Skyline and turned south on the AT to get to Rock Spring Cabin (about 1.3 miles S of the trailhead) and pitched tent. The next morning we headed down White Oak Canyon and loved every minute of it!

Bit of advice, be sure to bring bug spray as there are plenty of gnats and mosquitos when you stop. Also hiking sticks or poles are worth it for going downhill as many of the rocks are highly slippery. Finally if you plan to camp, a hammock may be your best option as rocks and steep inclines may make it hard to find a place to pitch a tent.

Entirely worth the effort!

By: BB Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 26, 2017
I was with John F on the White Oak-Cedar Run circuit. Agree entirely with his review skip the Cedar Run trail. The last half of the White Oak trail is highly strenuous despite what the National Park Service sign says, largely because the trail is in poor condition (large rocks, roots, etc.) I recommend using trekking poles on this segment. For casual/older hikers, a round trip on the White Oak trail to the first falls should be sufficient it's the most accessible and picturesque of the entire set.

    View all 210 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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