White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails

HARD 367 reviews
#2 of 148 trails in

White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails is a 7.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia 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 but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,309 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

fishing

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

The 1st section of the trail takes you to the right along about 30 big and small waterfalls! 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. The yellow trail, marked by yellow markers, is the 2nd part 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. 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 part of the trail is blue marked and starts from the skyline drive parking lot intersection. This leg has a very 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 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. 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.

hiking
4 days ago

To be honest this loop Cedar Run up and White Oak canyon down is not difficult at all. Very easy hike even for my friend who never hikes. Enjoyable hike with lots of waterfalls and places to swim. There are about 4 times needed to wade across the stream but its not deep just remove your shoes and cross. The trail is very well maintained and is not steep.

hiking
6 days ago

Great hike! Lots of water along the trail and the waterfalls are great. If it’s been raining prepare to get your feet wet, the main entrance was flooded and you have to cross at your own risk. There was one other creek crossing about shin deep and lots of deep puddles along the way. It gets really good when you start to climb. There’s lots of rock and opportunities to roll an ankle. Definitely worth going back over and over again!

hiking
11 days ago

This trail took my friends and I just over six hours to complete. The six hours included a lunch break, several trips down a natural water slide, and a couple of stops for the dog to swim. It is a difficult trail—personally, I think it is more difficult than Old Rag.

The connecting fire trail between White Canyon and Cedar Run is uneventful, but the first and last portions of this loop make the hike worthwhile. We did not realize that we’d be able to ride the natural water slide of Cedar Run, but when we saw others doing it, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. We were soaked on the hike back to the car with no regrets!

After you enter the trail, I suggest making a right to see White Oak Canyon first. You can then end your hike by swimming in and sliding into the pools of Cedar Run.

16 days ago

Challenging trail but fun. Lots of waterfalls.

23 days ago

Cedar Run and Whiteoak Canyon is a wonderful set of trails with beautiful scenery; a waterfall lovers pardise. if you are in great shape and have a full day, this hike is worth it. It is also very difficult, people (like me) who are not in the best condition will struggle. Only take the loop if you are capable of strenuous hiking and have directions and time.

hiking
23 days ago

We did this hike on 8/25/18. It took us about 7 and a half hours with breaks. We took our two black labs with us. They did great, but the are in excellent shape and are very active dogs. I would not take small or out of shape dos on this hike.
It is a difficult hike. We started at the lower parking lot. The first third of the hike was the most strenuous, but also the most awesome. Beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes. The second third was a horse trail that’s a pretty brutal incline. The final third has a rock water slide. Plan on getting wet throughout the hike. Bring a few pairs of extra socks. This hike is not for those who are out of shape. We are in our mid-40s and we’re out of gas by the time we were done.

hiking
24 days ago

Pretty cool trail. Did it on an exceptionally foggy day, the fire lane looked like something out of a dream. I will say don't underestimate this trail. I've done it twice counter-clockwise and Cedar Run can break some spirits. The trail itself is rugged and requires constant attention to foot placement. Took us a little over 6 hours. Trekking poles recommended!

25 days ago

Great hike with some challenging river crossings

29 days ago

Great day of hiking and splashing around with my son.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome trail. I did it with my wife and 3 teenage daughters we all had a great time.

hiking
1 month ago

If you go now, the water levels are as high as they have ever been in a long time and it is amazing. bring water shoes or prep to get wet. went yesterday from the cedar run lot to the byrds nest lookout past skyline, and back again.

hiking
1 month ago

Completed 8/6 going counterclockwise- not the hardest hike in Shenandoah but nothing to laugh at, probably earns its “hard” rating. Very entertaining hike- the water on this this trail does not disappoint. The 6 or so waterfalls that range in size and look often have space to explore underneath and appreciate the view if you desire. Basically 7 out of the 8 miles on the loop are following one of the 2 rivers- switching from swift running waterfalls and rapids to slow moving, deep green pools.

Took me about 6 hours to complete, taking my time and going for a short swim in one of the natural pools (would highly recommend.) This loop can easily be done quicker if you’re in decent shape and not stopping frequently.

Side note: the waterfalls and pools are popular and attract a decent crowd on a nice summer day. It’s not overcrowded, but if you’re looking for solitude this is probably not the hike. That being said this is one of my favorite I’ve done in Shenandoah and has some of the best water features & scenery in the park. Definitely should be on everybody’s Shenandoah to-do list.

1 month ago

This was a beautiful trail. There are waterfalls and swimming holes everywhere and the water is very clear. There was a big rattlesnake along the path on the rocks (posted a picture) so keep an eye out. This was strenuous, but worth it. This states pets allowed, but it should state not recommended. I have a jack Russell that hikes long hikes with me, but this was way too rocky for her. We carried her most of the way and her paws are still irritated.

1 month ago

Great Hike. Did it counter clockwise and highly recommend that. Slide on way down was awesome. Must do! Elevation is a lot but once you hit the fire road it is a gentle climb. would highly recommend. Did with 4 kids 17-10 in age and had no issues. You will get wet on this hike. We took our time started at 9am and finished 4:30. Lots of swimming and eat lunch.

hiking
1 month ago

A great adventure! I started at the lower parking lot (Weakley Hollow Rd) and went anti-clockwise, as recommended. A lot of uphill on the first leg along the river, with just gorgeous waterfall action along the way. I looked ahead at one point and saw a pair of ears pointing up in the air. It was a bear, sitting upright on rocks, taking in a view of the waterfalls. It ran up a tree (effortlessly!) as I approached, and then came right back down again! It hung out just about 50 feet or so from the trail as I passed.

You have to cross the water at the very top of the waterfall -- the best route that I found involved being almost knee deep in water. You will get wet on this hike. You really have to be very cautious on these water crossings -- you could easily slip on the glassy-smooth rocks, and fall and break something.

After crossing the waterfall at the top, you take the yellow trail to keep moving anti-clockwise, heading back towards the lower parking lot (and eventually back onto the blue trail). About half way around I had a feeling of being over the most challenging part of the hike, with plain sailing from here, Wrong! The back half of the hike is downhill through rocks, and rough on the joints. You need to be extremely careful on this section -- it would be very easy to make one bad foot placement, and fall and break something. And you'd be a long way/time from getting help.

A mile or so from the end of the trail I came across a snake -- sunning itself on a rock right on the edge of the trail. At this particular spot there was no way to continue other than to keep going on the narrow trail -- literally about a foot from the snake. As I stood debating my next step, a hiker came from the other direction (he was going clockwise) and stopped on the other side of the snake. He thought it looked like a copperhead. I took a picture of it, and the ranger at the end of the trail confirmed that it was indeed a copperhead. The other hiker and I both stepped on by the snake, and it didn't seem to be bothered, but you definitely want to be on the lookout! One little tip that I picked up -- never grab onto anything (a tree, for example) if you can't see what's on the back of it (where your fingers will be!).

There's access to some beautiful swimming holes along the way down -- I didn't venture in, but some folks were in taking a dip and having a lot of fun,

I recently have done the Old Rag and Little Devils Stairs hikes (both in Shenandoah, and both wonderful in their own ways), and think that this one was maybe the more challenging of the three. There's not a lot of rock scrambling on this one (like there is on the way up Old Rag), but I found the long downhill through the rocks to be quite strenuous.

Overall, this was a fantastic hike! Highly recommended! Oh, and it took me about 5 hours -- pushing along at a steady pace, and I did stop for lunch at the Slide waterfall for around 15 minutes.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail kicked our butts. We made it but took about 7 hours which included time to soak and slide. We went down the fire road first so the falls were in view the entire way back up and up ... and up some more. I’m glad I had hiking sticks, great boots, snacks, extra water and a supportive tribe. Make sure to take a copy of the map — there are several trails intersecting and the SNP marks all trails with blue blazes making it difficult to recognize your trail. It was a great way to spend an entire day enjoying massive waterfalls. It’s quite an accomplishment for us.

hiking
1 month ago

According to my Garmin Fenix, we hiked 12 miles on this trail, and it took us 7.5 hrs.

1 month ago

It had rained for days before, so the natural slide was too rough to do. We went in for a quick swim at the lower falls, instead. This hike was very strenuous, with very rocky terrain and river crossings. We saw other people breezing through, but it took our group of 9 about 7 hours. Gorgeous scenery following the stream and cascades, but it was hard to look up from your footing.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is really cool. It it slightly challenging due to the wet rocks and the semi steep grade of the trail. You stay right beside the water for well over 3/4 of the the loop. You pass lots and lots of waterfalls with plenty of photo opportunities and lots of places to sit and have a nice picnic lunch. There are lots of river crossing where you will get wet so be prepared for that. The water is anywhere between ankle to thigh deep. Awesome trail. Will do again.

hiking
2 months ago

This is beautiful trail. It is a half day hike so plan to bring lunch and plenty of water. It was wooded and wet with lots of waterfalls and swimming holes. We stopped at one swimming hole to hang out and eat lunch. It was beautiful. The elevation does get steep close to the summit so prepare for a strenuous climb.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike! We went up the White Oak Canyon trail and took the horse trail across to Cedar Run trail. Saw some small wildlife: birds, squirrels, snakes, and a skink. We also got to see a small bear cub at the top by Skyline Drive. Coming down Cedar Run trail was a little difficult, the trail was washed out in places and terrain was rough near the rock slide into a water hole. Very refreshing to jump in the water and cool off!

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this trail so much! Hiked from the skyline entrance down to the natural waterfall water slide and had lunch at a swimming hole along the way, will be back!!

2 months ago

Beautiful on the way up and down. Lots of water falls and large rock formations.

hiking
2 months ago

Started off at the white oak canyon parking lot, suggest to get there early as the lot fills up quick, overflow parking is available for $10 a car, in addition to paying the park entrance fee. But if you are there early enough parking is free. We did the white oak to cedar run loop, the hike itself was challenging but also wonderful in so many ways. Took up 6 1/2 hours, we stopped for lunch and spent time in the water. Beautiful scenery, many over looks to enjoy the water falls. The rocks on the down hill was the hardest part in my opinion, difficult on the knees, feet and ankles. The water slide was all I hoped it to be, refreshingly freezing cold water. The trail was crowded today, never felt like we were alone which I don’t necessarily enjoy, I prefer the solitude of nature but that didn’t take away from my experience.

hiking
2 months ago

A great hike, but a rating of hard is, well, hard. Yes, I'm approaching 60, but in very good shape, and this was an exhausting and strenuous hike. Lots of rocks, a real work out on the ankles and knees. Pay close attention and bring a walking stick or two, as well as lots of water and something to eat. Our fitbits measured it at more like 9.5 miles. Be sure to stop and put your feet in the water at some point. Watch for snakes (big) and bears (sudden). In other words pay attention to your surroundings. Lots of swimming holes (ice cold clean water) and fairly well traveled. Trails are well marked but print the above or bring a print out so you know which path to take. Allow 5-7 hours. Parking lot was packed so get there early to get a spot, otherwise there's overflow parking at $10 a shot.

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike today with my 15 year old nephew. Absolutely loved it. We started on the yellow blaze side at skyline drive, which is the oak canyon side, coming up cedar run at the end of the journey was a challenge but an enjoyable one. If you don’t want as much a challenge I would start on the blue blaze first, ending on a fire road for the last 2 miles would probably be pretty nice if you’re not an overly experienced hiker.
Currently there is A LOT of water. Be prepared to get wet, and cross water and be on very wet rocks.
The pools are all very deep and so good to swim in!!!

IMPORTANT
It’s NOT 7.3 miles. It’s more like 8.5.

2 months ago

Hiked this loop starting from Skyline Drive. We originally planned to start at the bottom, but the road was closed due to high water. We actually drove a bit past the sign and a van had been left abandoned in the middle of the road, and from a distance the road looked rough. We decided to turn back and start from Skyline Drive instead. I would definitely start from Skyline Drive if heavy rains occurred the day before, just to be on the safe side. From Skyline Drive, we descended the Cedar Run Trail, which had several nice little waterfalls and a steady, pretty stream. “The Slide” was very cool and the water was absolutely roaring today; one benefit of coming after a heavy rainfall. The first “official” waterfall on White Oak Canyon was breathtaking, and probably the highlight of the hike. Further up, there were some pretty great falls as well. All in all, “The Slide” on Cedar Run and the first big waterfall on White Oak Canyon stole the show...but there were plenty of other cool medium to small waterfalls to be seen. Would definitely come here again!

2 months ago

Road to the base is washed out about 2 miles from the trailhead as of 3/23. After rain, you may have to go around to Skyline Drive to access this hike unless it’s been dry the day before.

Great Hike, nice waterfalls. Wasn’t too strenuous or muddy, though can be difficult to keep your shoes dry if it’s rained recently. The area between high and low white oak falls is a little steep, but it’s not too bad. Plenty of spurs to go off the main trail and get up close to the water. Plenty of flat rocks to relax and have lunch on.

3 months ago

Love this trail. The scenery is SOOO beautiful. The waterfalls are breath taking. Take your time, make a day out of it and enjoy. The trail is difficult but there ia many stops along the way to cool off.

hiking
3 months ago

Tough hike but one of the best in Virginia. Lots of waterfalls and river crossings. Very steep and not recommended if wet.

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