White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails

HARD 71 reviews
#1 of 6 trails in

White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails is a 7.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Syria, VA that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

7.3 miles 2477 feet Loop

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

If you like water this is a great hike. If you want a great view at the top, pick another trail. You can go clockwise or the reverse. The Whiteoak Canyon trail is a much better trail so if you prefer coming down on the best footing trail, go clockwise. That is go up Cedar Run. If you do this just remember to look back a lot while coming down the White Oak Trail because it has most of the waterfalls. Cedar Run has some beautiful emerald green pools. Both trails stay very close to the streams. The connection at the top is partly by fire road and partly by a trail that parallels the scenic highway on top of the range. If you come up Cedar Run the trail will go off to the right just before a parking lot. It will take you to the fire road where you turn right. At the end of the fire road you will be at White Oak Canyon. There is a trail that heads up on the South side but you want to cross over the foot bridge and then head down along the stream on the north side. There are two parking lots that intersect this trail, one on skyline drive south of big meadows, and one that needs to be accessed off road 643 in the lowlands. You will come to an intersection starting at the off-skyline 643 parking lot, suggest you go right and run the loop counterclockwise. The trail markers are blue on the trees, then theres a short yellow section, then blue again for the return. make sure you double check your GPS at the intersections to stay on the right trail. The 1st section of trail takes you to the right along about 30 big and small waterfalls! WATERFALLS galore! this is the strenuous section of the trip. There is a great rock wall for climbers on this section approximately 1-1.5 miles from the trailhead (road 643) parking lot (weakly hollow road) which also makes a great place for lunch. A short way past the falls section you will encounter a map on the trail and you can decide if you want to turn back and call it quits for the day. If you would like to continue on the loop for a total of 8 miles, you can take the yellow trail section. The yellow trail is the 2nd leg of the loop, you will go over a steel bridge crossing the river where there is a fork. The yellow trail is to the LEFT, and the blue trail on the right goes 3 miles to skyline drive (which is not part of this loop). The yellow trail is a horse trail, but still climbs to approximately ~3200 feet gradually. There are no stair steps here, and you still may need to stop and catch your breath. No views here, and no waterfalls here. You will encounter the next intersection which you should follow to the left (still yellow blazes). This leg of the loop ends at the skyline drive parking lot which can be your other entry point for this trail. At this intersection (4 way) you will take the blue blazed trail which returns in the direction that you came. The 3rd and final leg of the trail is blue marked and starts from the skyline drive parking lot intersection. This leg has less waterfalls than the one we started with, however it has a most notable waterfall called "the slide" because it is a sheer gradually sloped face with lots of waterflow over it, kind of like a slide. Having reached the peak of the hike in the 2nd leg end, this leg of the hike is stair stepping downhill all the way. BEWARE that there are 3 river crossings, and this can be dangerous because they are on logs if you don't want to get wet. You can safely scoot along on the logs and make all the crossing. The final crossing will have RED blazes on the trees marking all the crossing (approximately 4 log crossings). Be careful as the rocks may be slippery and can result in serious injury. The rest of the way after the last crossing is a mostly rockless path back to the starting (road 643) parking lot (weakly hollow road). This hike can be considered more strenuous than old rag mountain which is right next door. If you are taking tons of pictures of the falls, swimming, or taking an extra long lunch, then you should plan on 6-7 hours for this hike. The trail has groups come through heading to big meadows etc and can be busy at times... so start early. Larger wildlife may be present, especially on days with fog.

15 days ago

Get there early if you like the trail less populated.

20 days ago

We started at Hawksbill parking and went down first -step but do able if you have no extra weight or lower leg issues and have the correct shoes and perhaps walking sticks for making your decent flow better . We crossed the river several times then climbing back up to hawksbill . The up was easy if your used to climbing without stopping.We did over 8 miles in about 4 hours plus a little change.

hiking
26 days ago

Did this in 2014 and loved it. You are not supposed to feed the deer, but they will come up to you within 6 or 8 feet begging. Somebody must be feeding them. Don't do it because human food is very unhealthy for them. For us too but I won't go there.

hiking
26 days ago

I have done the loop and the shorter two trails many time over the years. Met a lot of animals from chip-monks to deer and one large bear.

hiking
1 month ago

Don't bring amateur hiking partners to this trail ever. You will end up doing short waiting points every ten feet.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike! Challenging at times, but not too difficult. Great for families and children.

1 month ago

Completed this in the rain and would strongly recommend not doing so- this would be a lovely trail to hike when it's dry and the leaves are changing

hiking
2 months ago

2 months ago

One of my favorites. A moderate hike with swimming holes and natural rock water slides to keep you cool on hot days. My dog loved the water pit stops along the way. We were lucky to see a mother bear and cubs pass the trail in front of us. Trail was decently crowded but only near the water. Makes me think some people hike in just for the swim then back down, rather than completing the full loop. Highly recommend the loop! Beautiful vegetation and some pretty views. Not the best views on Shenandoah, but worthwhile.

hiking
2 months ago

Great workout with pretty views and difficult terrain. Make sure to watch out for bears, I saw two during my hike today. Great trail for letting your dog off leash!

hiking
2 months ago

Was difficult on the way back up! But a wonderful trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail! We extended this a bit, which I wouldn't recommend, as you need to come down the road a little bit. Cross over at the fire road as directed. We started at the bottom of the mountain and worked our way up, which is better, because you're getting the hard part out first.

Dog friendly, but saw bears, so be careful of that. The terrain also gets pretty close to big drop offs, so make sure you watch your dog.

hiking
2 months ago

great trail. my husband and i did the 7+ mile loop with our 2 dogs. it was a lot of climbing/descending but a great workout. several places to stop and eat lunch or dip in the water. the side of the loop with multiple waterfalls wasnt crowded, but definitely lots of people. the other side there were very few. would definitely do this trail again except that it cost us $30... $10 entrance fee per person, plus $10 door parking if you don't get there early enough to get one of the free spaces. there's definitely plenty of trails that are just as good and free!

hiking
2 months ago

One our favorites , did it twice this summer and hoping to go a third time!

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

great hike for a workout, not a lot of views and it's extremely difficult going up and down. took the dog with and it wore her out, recommend doing it but probably only once

4 months ago

never did the full loop until the other day but i finally sis the full loop definatly takes some time, water, & is tiring. but definatly worth it. the waterfalls are gorgeous. the view at the top of white oak is amazing. decided to do this when it was over 100 degrees out but the pools to splash water on you definatly make it do able. probably one of my favorite places to hike definatly recommend! :)

4 months ago

This is a very challenging hike but it's worth it! This uphill trail follows a beautiful waterfall that cascades into small emerald pools you can swim or fish in. You can also slide down a rock like a water slide. The trail markings were a little confusing once I got to the top of the trail to finish the loop, so I just came back the same way I went up. If you have bad knees, this hike may not be for you. Otherwise, get out there and have fun!

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike. Parked in the lower parking lot. It fills up quick so the neighboring houses let you park in their yards for $10. Port-a-potties at the trail head for last minute stuff. Then pay $20 at the ranger hut before starting the hike.

We went up cedar first (left). Cedar has a couple really cool spots with water that's deep enough to jump into. Because the trail follows water all the way up, there are innumerable spots to find your own area to cool your feet and give your dog a drink. It is a moderate to difficult hike.

Looped around at the top (meets the top parking lot), and came back down white oak. Agree, that it seemed easier going down this trail, though it has its difficult spots too. Lots of big waterfalls, great overlooks and views of the valley. Plenty of big swim holes, though only one seemed to have a jump and it was smaller than the Cedar trail one.

Did the hike with 2 dogs. While not crowded, a steady stream of hikers meant limited chances to let the dogs off leash.

Did the hike in Merrells. Fine going up, but felt like I could feel every little rock on the white oak trail coming down - like I was in bare feet. So would recommend a hiking boot.

Have mostly hiked in New England. Didn't know what to expect. But this hike was terrific and would highly recommend.

hiking
5 months ago

This is my all time favorite trail.