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Hiker Reviews for the White Oak Canyon Hike - 1 to 35 of 35   
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By: Chloe Z Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 19, 2016
Well worth the effort! We started at the upper lot on Skyline Drive and hiked all the way down to the lowest of the Lower Falls. Keep in mind, it is a pretty strenuous hike to get back up to your car afterwards, especially from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls (which is not tricky but is very, very steep in places.) If you're up for a challenge, though, I highly recommend it!

It's worth getting all the way to the lowest falls, too, because there's a great swimming hole there which is refreshing enough to boost your on your trip back. It's deep enough to cool you down, but shallow enough to get right under the falls. So much fun!

If you're taking kiddos or you just want to enjoy the swimming hole without as much hiking, I'd recommend parking at the Lower Lot and just going to the lowest falls. The others are lovely to look at, and even have places you could swim near them, but you really have to work for them. )

By: Ken Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 17, 2015
I've done the loop several times but chose to do this short out and back with my family to show them what I think are probably the best falls in the park. The fall colors are definitely coming in and the scenery was gorgeous, but the trail was a constant stream of people and the viewpoint at the top of the falls was packed. It was difficult to get pictures with several groups picnicking or just hanging out and not freeing up space for others. We went to the bottom of the upper falls for lunch and surprisingly there was nobody else there. Chatty groups, unleashed and in one case a leashed but aggressive dog, took away from the obvious beauty of this hike. Parking lot was 70% full when we got there (10:30) and overflowing by the time we left (about 1:45). If you value solitude then do this hike early, or on a weekday, or wait until the leaves drop. If crowds don't matter, then you'll thoroughly enjoy this hike especially now with all the color.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 14, 2015
Love this hike! I have hiked with family and/or friends a few times from the top down and the bottom up. We have seen BlackBear on both routes which is always exciting. I highly recommend the bottom up for newer hikers that need to be reassured that hiking is an amazing adventure. The beauty of the waterfalls comes a bit quicker on this route and you dont have to drive the Shenandoah trail, you do still pay for entrance though unless you are during non peek hours.

By: Bernard in Virginia Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Great hike, beautiful trail and falls. We were out here on a rainy Saturday and still we saw a couple dozen or so other hikers. If you want a little solitude, I recommend a weekday and an early start. The plus is that our fellow hikers were all polite and apparently experienced hikers, so no litter, noise, etc., that you sometimes see on popular trails.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 15, 2014
There are few places as spectacular as this!
Plenty of water...plenty of cascades...
Non-stop waterfall action...going up WOC is cool...but I would really try this hike in reverse...
Cedar Run is extremely rocky...and going down is quite challenging...
White Oak down is probably easier on the ankles...
You cannot do this loop without the excursion to Hawksbill...just under a two mile round tripper...the .8 miles uphill is certainly worth it (on a clear day) and this day was practically cloudless...get up there...this makes this hike a 6 for views...
And Cedar Run the encore...what a beautiful trail...the water was extremely cold...dunked myself in a swimming hole just before the "slide"...thought I would hypothermiate....cold was an understatement...
One of the best hikes in the area...one of my favorite places on earth...especially as a water person...

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Wonderful place!

The Falls seem to sing to you.

Second time visiting and first in autumn.

Did the Skyline Drive out and back trail near Skyland on Skyline Dirve and while it was not as difficult as the White Oak/Cedar Run Loop, we went a little farther down than the directions indicated. Deserved a 3.5 difficulty I believe. Much steeper below the main falls.

Beautiful drive back on Skyline Drive just at the end of the peak color season.

Perhaps I'll go back when the Falls are frozen. Must be incredible then.

A true four season spectacular!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Entered from Thornton Gap entrance and it was already raining. Started hike around 10:35AM and completed at around 3:15PM. It was very foggy, for about initial 1 mile or so, the trail is ok but after that it becomes very rocky. Since the day i hiked it was raining continuously, rocks were very slippery. Had no problem in reaching the base of 1st fall. But return was very strenuous for me. Had to take almost 15 to 20 stops. I am not a regular hiker and ok built with 135 lb and 5.7" hight. Some how felt very very exhausted. I was carrying a big camera big with tripod too. Carry lots of water, just one bottle may not be enough, carry two if possible. Also carry trail bars as you will feel hungry. I would like to hike this trail once again to cover all the 5 left over falls.

By: Dennis Loufik Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 14, 2013
This loop hike is awesome!!!! It is a natural waterpark. The best approach is to hike from the valley and go to the right towards the White Oak falls and finish with a refreshing dip on the Cedar Run trail. It is wise to get to the parking area early like by 8:00 am for easy parking. There will be a park fee of $15.00 per vehicle. There are porta-johns at the trailhead.

By: Drew Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 17, 2013
I do this hike many times a year. Eight in the last two. The falls were flowing harder today than I have ever seen them before. If you get a chance go out this weekend before they die down. The only gripe I have is the trail actually misses a lot of great spots, falls even. I take the trail to the first of the lower falls and than hike right up the creek bed (should have 1 pair of shoes to hike through water and one dry pair for climbing) zig zagging back and forth traversing the terrain. Hands down the most spectacular way to see White Oak Canyon. Only for extremely seasoned hikers and climbers there are a few places were you are climbing almost vertically right next to a fall with at times only a crack a half inch deep to stick your fingers in. Today was the first day we could not make it the entire way up. The falls were pretty powerful today but we were still able to make it up to the sixth fall but climbing up the side of that one was just too risky today. Anyway you do this hike though, you will have an amazing time and this is from someone that is very difficult to please. Enjoy guys!

By: Meaghan and Dan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 04, 2012
Great Hike! We started from the top of the trail in Shenandoah National Park and hiked all the way down to the lower falls. Trail was pretty easy for the first 1/3 of the trail, and then definitely was pretty steep and mainly downhill for the rest. There are many pretty falls, going swimming holes and a natural rock slide at the bottom. Definitely refreshing and lots of families/people eat lunch. The hike back up was continuous and difficult but was a good workout.

A great hike  - would definitely do it again. We also saw lots of dogs on the hike, so if you have a pooch definitely bring him along.

By: Jeremy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 16, 2012
Hiked this trail for the first time in nearly 20 years. I had forgotten how beautiful it was. Arrived at lower trailhead at 7:30 a.m. where there were only 3 cars. Only saw 7 other hikers until reaching the upper Cedar Run connection at skyline and 5 of them were people who stopped by while we ate lunch/breakfast. The falls on this trip are unmatched in this area. We were doing the loop trail with Cedar Run so we took the Horsetrail over. It is uneventful and follows skyline the second half the way. The trip down Cedar run is rough. Not nearly as easy of footing as on White Oak or other hikes like Old Rag. It is a very slow decent do to this and takes a toll on your feet. As we approached the lower half of Cedar Run, we started seeing many more people either coming from or going to the Natural slide. The natural slide is a cool place but unless you get there early, it is sure to be crowded in the summer time. From that point on the trail was relatively crowded. When we reached the trailhead and our car, there were no less than 60+ cars in the parking lot. Most of which were undoubtedly climbing straight to the natural slide. Overall a great hike. Looking forward to combining with Old Rag in the Spring!

By: Kail Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Wonderful hike. Plenty of water flowing on the falls and the trees are starting to bud. Definitely saw an otter run into the water and swim under a rock about 1.5 miles up the trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 07, 2012
This was my boyfriend and I's second hike on this trail. We first hiked it in October 2010 with my younger siblings and we all loved it! The scenery is beautiful and the waterfalls were breathtaking! The hike to the upper falls was moderate, while the hike to the lower falls was much more challenging! We enjoyed taking pictures of the waterfalls, and yesterday the weather was great! It got up to 65 mid-day, then around 2pm a cold front moved in. I recommend this hike to everyone!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 02, 2012
Great day hike, temps were in their mid twenties but provided the right amount of chill, this hike follows the creek and their are some nice falls to keep the trail interesting. Would recommend to anyone, not too difficult, just remember you gotta hike back up!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 09, 2011
Took my two kids out today for a hike on a beautiful October day. We went to White Oak Falls, but since I had never done it down form Skyline Drive we decided to try it. We just went down to the upper falls. The hike was great. My two kids 12 and 7 had a great time. The hike was easy soft earth intermixed with a few rocky places and plenty of water views. We stopped several times to see a interesting rock. or cool bridge. The trip down and back, including a several stops for pictures, snacks, and just breaks took us about three hours. Could not have picked a better day to go. This hike is well worth the climb back up.

By: Lex Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, February 11, 2011
What an awesome day for a hike! We had beautiful weather and the trail was in good shape. Early in the morning the ground was frozen and there were some slick spots. In the afternoon things warmed up and things got a bit muddy in spots, but nothing too serious.

By: VaMorley Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 24, 2010
Perfect day, blue sky and mid sixties and great leaf colors. We started from the lower end and made it to the upper falls with our 2 boys (5 and 7) and dog. However last push to the top was a stretch but the boys loved the falls and checking out the stream. Highly recommend coming from the base, especially if you have younger kids and make sure to have plenty of water.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 10, 2010
Blue skies, orangey-red leaves and white water... the hike was great.  The trek to the lower end of the trail was well worth it... the falls this time of year are so beautiful.  We had family ranging in age from 8 to 62 with us and all were able to navigate the trail fairly well.  Coming back was a bit of a workout but overall great trail... thanks SNP!

By: Ryan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 02, 2010
First hike ever in the SNP, and we really liked it.  Even though there is about a 1000 foot elevation change over the course of the hike, it is gradual enough that you really don't notice it.  It does get a bit crowded, with some large groups taking up a lot of the trail, but I was expecting this going in. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Great day on the trail today!  National Park Week meant no park fees -- thanks, Rangers!  Hiked up from the bottom (VA-600 parking lot) with some beginning hikers everyone enjoyed it -- very well-marked, easy to follow trail, and while there are some slightly steep uphill bits, they're all short enough not to be too strenous with day packs.  Easy access to great swimming holes all along the first half of the trail sadly it was a bit too chilly to swim today.  I had no problem hiking up in good trainers (running shoes), however, if it was wet/muddy from a rain, or if you have weak ankles, you'll want to have good boots.  Really glad to have hiked up from the bottom the people we encountered hiking out to the top lot looked knackered to be going uphill at the end of their hike.  All in all, an easy hike with good uphill training for fit beginners.

By: hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, January 15, 2010
Has anyone hiked the trail recently within the past few days?  I was wondering if the waterfalls were frozen from the recent cold and snow.  Ice climbers were out the last time I went in January and I thought it would be neat to see that again.  Thanks!

By: older hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 18, 2009
INFO: The White Oak trail-head parking area is closed for reconstruction just now. The hike can be reached easily from the Limberlost parking lot.

We hiked it in the fog, but it was spectacular because of the recent rain. Only saw 3 other people on the trail. One benefit of the popularity of the trail is that the leaves get cleared more quickly, compared to the Mill Prong the day before. Saw several deer right next to the upper part of the trail.

By: tim_j Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 08, 2009

I hiked out to the waterfall and back with my girlfriend on a gorgeous Sunday morning. We got to the parking lot at 9am and we were only the second car there. We saw only a couple people the whole way out to the falls and had the view completely to ourselves, for the half hour or so we sat at the overlook. On the way back, however, we saw at least 30-40 people heading out to the falls, so I can imagine it was fairly crowded in the early afternoon at the overlook. I would recommend starting early if you would like to enjoy the incredible view of the falls without a crowd. Lastly, we were advised by one group that they saw a bear on the opposite of the river, but we didn't get a glimpse of it ourselves. Overall, a fantastic hike and a nice change of pace from the usual summit hikes.


By: Stephanie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 01, 2008
My dog and I did this hike today, and it was absolutely gorgeous! The first part down to the first falls was very easy, and it was nice being right along the stream. The view of the first falls is spectacular. The hike down to the base of the first falls is steep, but it is worth it for another amazing view, and some fun on the boulders. (Boomer was especially excited to do a little rock climbing). Since I was pressed for time I did not go down to the lower falls, but I plan on going back and hiking the White Oak/Cedar Run combo later. There was a lot of people on the hike, when I left at 3pm there must have been 30 cars parked in the parking lot and along the side of the road. This was good for me since I was alone and glad to have company in case something were to happen. Going down to the base of the falls and back took me just under three hours, so it is a good hike if you don't have a lot of time. Overall I loved this hike and it made for one great Saturday! 

By: peter jeon Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 01, 2008
It was the best hike I have experienced, hiking along the waterfalls, viewing huge rocks everywhere. It was the place where I can relax and enjoy the unspoiled nature in the well maintained trail. Unfortunately there was no wildlife sighting. On the way whenever I feel tired, I could walk in the waterfall and rested for a while then continued.

By: Royce Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2008
This is a great family hike.  We went Memorial Day Weekend (Sunday) with our son and some friends and loved it.  We wanted to do Old Rag Mountain, but after reading the reviews we decided not to take our 4yr old son there because of the difficulty factor and went to White Oak Canyon instead.  For those with kids in the same age group I would definitely recommend this trail.  Our son was able to make it all the way down to the Upper Falls on his own and back up about a quarter of the way before his feet started "getting a little bit tired" as he told me.  At which point I had to put him on my shoulders pretty much the rest of the way up.  If you are able to hike about 2 miles uphill with the additional weight of your child this is a good trail....if you don't think you can or you aren't sure if your kid can make it the whole way, it could end up being a long day.  We went into it "knowing" he would eventually end up on the shoulders.  Either way it is definitely a beautiful sight to see and if you do end up spending the whole day there with your family that is more of a plus than a minus I would say.  It took us 5 1/2 hours to complete it, but 1/2 an hour was spent on lunch shortly after we got there and another hour was spent at the Upper Falls goofing off. 

By: Robert Godlove Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 02, 2008
Very Nice, parked at the Mile Post 42 entrance, I prefer loop hikes, but this time, walked in to the third falls
and back out...numerous wildlife sightings , Bear (approx. 150lbs+) and many deer.
The falls were really running, all the spring rains, great hike Coming out is a Great Burn!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, January 16, 2008
If you haven't done this hike in the winter, you don't know what you're missing.  Starting out at noon, I was the first one on the trail (no other footprints in the snow), and I saw only 4 other people.  Noon was actually a bit late to get started, though, because the sun goes behind the hill before 4 pm and it gets cold fast!  Beautiful big ice stalactite formations on the south facing rock formations were crashing to the ground in the afternoon sun - like watching a glacier calving.  Also saw and heard a pair of pileated woodpeckers.  Otherwise, it was just rocks, water, snow and sun.  So beautiful.

By: mike Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 12, 2007
This is a great hike with a nice series of waterfalls.  I would like to clear up other posters concerns with entrance fees.  Shenandoah is one of many National Parks which require an entrance pass for the park.  This has been the case since the 1930's.  It is true that Rangers are present sometimes to collect this fee at the boundary station, however, if they are not present there is a self registration box at the trailhead that visitors are required to use in order to legally use the park.  This self registration system has been in place for many years.  If you hiked this trail in the recent past and did not pay the entrance fee, it does not mean there was not one, only that you entered the park without paying the fee.  As a disabled vet myself, I can attest to the fact that you are allowed to utilize the park without paying entrance fees.  The proper way to do this is to bring a letter from the VA stating that you are permanently disabled and are eligible to receive benefits for this disability to a National Park Ranger contact station and ask for the National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Access Pass.  This pass is free and valid for life.  It also gets you half off of camping fees in the National Parks.  As for not being given a receipt, you should have been provided with one upon paying your entrance fee as it acts as your pass and is valid for the day you purchase it and the following 6 days.  Concerning rude rangers, it is unfortunate that it happened, and taking their name and reporting it to the Park service is the best way to handle the situation.   Concerning downed trees, the park suffered from a severe ice storm the following winter which damaged trees throughout the park and even caused the closing of Skyline drive as it was impassable.  The rangers have worked extremely hard to clear the trees and were hindered throughout the year with the need to shift to the aid of fighting the forest fires around the country.  However, most of the trails have been cleared.  Basically what I am saying is, I spend a lot of time in the National Parks and consider them a great resource.  They are underfunded and need the entrance fees to off set the cost of maintaing the park and providing ranger programs, etc.  80 percent of the fees are returned to the park in which they are paid and I consider this a small price to pay for a day (actually a week) of outdoor adventure.  You pay that much for less than two hours in a movie theater.  If entrance fees or one rude ranger turned you away, I suggest not letting that ruin what would turn out to be a great time and give it another try.  For information about Shenandoah National Park, including rules and regulations surrounding fees, visit   nps.gov/shen.  Research ahead of time is always the best way to ensure no unexpected surprises.

By: Dave Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 22, 2007

I dont believe in paying people for access to a tax-payer funded park without at least getting a receipt.  Something fishy is going on there.  In addition, as a disabled vet i don't have to pay anyway according to recent legislation, but he "has never heard that".  Funny the folks at other NPS sites had.

We must have done that trail 4 times over 30 years and that was the first time I have ever been "mad" at a park ranger.  Oh well.  We left in hiked in GW Forest instead.   Less people, less BS. 


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 07, 2007
What a shame for the previous poster, darby.  Having hiked White Oak Canyon before he knows what they missed out on.  The 8$ fee was new to me as well, since I hadn't made the hike in around 4 years, but it is well worth the meager donation.  Parking below the falls at the end of route 600 through Syria is definitely the way to go for all drives originating southeast of the Skyline Drive.  Beginning your journey there makes it an uphill, relatively easy hike to the first set of falls and then easy strolling downhill after an afternoon of hiking and swimming.  We had a three year old with us and only had to carry her a few times.  One thing that disappointed me was the presence of a significant amount of debris blocking the last half of a natural slippery-rock "water slide".  Located right at the base of the first set of falls (or last set if you start at the Skyline Dr. entrance), you'll find this 15-20ft flume to be the highlight of your day provided the water level is high enough.  Hopefully they've cleared the fallen tree by now, it looked to be a very recent event.  Have fun and happy hiking!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 02, 2007
This hike is a beautiful one with a quite rewarding prize at the end; a breathtaking waterfall splashing over the whole mountain side!  The first time that I hiked on this trail was about six years ago and have gone at least once a year since.  The last experience that I had on this trail was AWFUL!! Currently on the weekends a park ranger guards the entrance asking for $8 a person in cash to hike.  When we approached him he said in a stern and devious voice that he had been waiting for us.  My group of friends and I were only slightly weirded out at this moment.  Then he gave us a cunning smirk and asked if we had passes.  We tried to inquire about the passes and the man just gave us short and unhelpful remarks.  What I got out of it was that we all had to pay him $100 or we could not go through.  There was a group of about 10 of us and all we wanted to do was hike the trail.  We had come all the way from Richmond to do so.  At that moment there was no more conversation. We did not have $100 to hike and he made it very clear that there were no more questions to ask.  His smirk and disrespectful tone ruined this hike for me that I have enjoyed so many times before (for free).  So if you can get pass the "troll under the bridge" so to speak then the falls are well worth the workout, if you have no tolerance for disrespect because you want to innocently enjoy a piece of the Shenandoah then pick a different place!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 19, 2007

This was a good hike with a great reward at the end.  You start off from the parking lot and it's down hill from there.  The entire way to the water fall is down hill.  It's not too steep though that the only thought in the back of your head on the way down is how much you don't want to climb back up.  It's a nice hike that took us 3 hours.  The first mile of your trip is through the woods, not much of scenery, and then you start to follow some water.  The rest of the trip the trail follows the stream all the way down to the water fall with plenty of scenic spots.  We didn't have much time because of day light, but you could easily turn this trip into a 5 hour trip with a lunch and taking your time to enjoy the scenery.  This was a great hike and easy to take pets with.  All the streams that you cross have bridges so don't worry about getting your shoes wet.  HAVE FUN!


By: srozga Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 10, 2006
This hike is about 2 hours from where I live in Northern Virginia, but I regularly make the drive beacuse it is one of the best relatively close to the D.C. area and a great roadtrip. It can be crowded but that hardly distracts from the fact this is a terrific hike - especially in summer. What could be better on a hot day then doing a moderate 1.5 mile hike then swimming below a nice, cool waterfall in the forest? And if you have the place to yourself, clothing optional. You have to have good timing though if you want to swim. The occasional dry spell will limit your enjoyment of the falls. I feel hiking in from below the falls is also key. Many people hike down from Skyline Drive but I think the hike up from the bottom of White Oak Canyon is preferable. But it's a personal preference; I would rather hike uphill first, swim, and then hike down. There is NPS parking below the canyon at the end of VA Route 600. And the drive to get there is spectacular! Cheerio.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 29, 2006
Took advantage of gorgeous Memorial Day Weekend weather to break into summer hiking shape by hiking this route down from Skyline Drive to the first falls.  Hiking instructions accurate (more up to date than Heatwole's) although could use some more detail.  Work done on trail in recent years has been outstanding with good trail maintenance and new wooden walkway across creek early in hike.  First waterfall was spectacular, even in this dry weather.  As usual, very popular with lots of other hikers - counted 20 cars in White Oak Canyon Trail parking lot at start and nearly twice that many at finish.  Still, crowds didn't detract from an enjoyable hike to one of the prettiest waterfalls in the SNP.

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