White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails is a 7.3 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.
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.
Great trail, but very tough, a lot of rocks, steep accents, descents, and switchbacks. Give this one time. The full 7.7 mile circuit will take at least 4-5 hours and the scenery is worth spending some time admiring. For reference we started the trail from hawksbill parking off the skyline drive and went down Cedar Run first and the up white oak canyon trail to the fire road.
Arrive early. I parked at 8am in the White Oak lot and by 8:30am, 15-20 cars parked. When I finished the hike at 1pm the place was packed.
I did the Cedar Run to Hawksbill Peak to the horse trail down to White Oak Canyon. I thought White Oak was much more scenic, but a lot busier. A lot of peole were hanging out along the banks of the waterfalls and there were several people fishing.
The trails are steep in spots, with lots of rocks, but I saw kids all along the trail.
Good hike. We only went to the lower falls and back which was right around 3 miles total. With a lunch break at the falls it took about 2 hours. Rocky paths, but easily passable. The parking situation is terrible. Very limited spaces and hard to maneuver with a lot of cars there. Plan to show up early for parking or you can pay $10 to a couple local residents that allow you to park in their yards (bring cash for that). All in all, entertaining with great views of the falls. Good for families and dogs.
Definitely a challenging one! But My mom (56yo) and I were able to complete it in 5 hours (with a 30 min lunch break). We went up Cedar Run Trail and down White Oak Canyon. Hiking shoes are a must, very rocky, very steep at times.
Did this loop trail for the first time in February in 40+ temperatures. Went up the white oak canyon and down the Cedar Run Trail. Portions of the Cedar Run Trail, near the falls, was wet and muddy and could be slippery. Watch you steps, in particular if you choose to come down this way. Still enjoyed the hike very much. It took us 4.5 hrs to complete this 7.5 mile loop.
Pretty difficult but beautiful!! We took a left from the white oak parking lot. Was expecting to reach a peak, above the mountain scenery at the end but it just led to skyline drive. The way up to it, however, was incredible. Refreshing water fall sounds. Expect to cross a couple of falls through stones in between. Also, expect to get your feet/shoes wet during this. It's easier and probably a bit safer than avoiding getting wet all together--cause it'll be tough and you don't know how slippery the rocks may get. Came out for a hike with my pup during mid 40 degree weather with the sun out. I got pretty warm throughout most of it. Enjoy!! Beautiful and I've been telling others about this place!
We did this trail on end of January, 2017. We started from White oak trail to Cedar run trail. It is more then 7.3 mile loop. Trail has lots of rocks so good hiking shoes is very much helpful. For many miles we hiked along the water which makes this trail very beautiful. You will enjoy many waterfalls along the trail as well. I would love to do this trail again.
Hiked from the trailhead on cedar run to skyline and back today . Pretty hard trail but man the views and water features are amazing !!! Rocky and lots of up. Was going to go for hawksbill but ran out of time and it was extremely cold on skyline . The decent was pretty technical and snow and ice added a layer of wet complexity . Awesome place though !!!